“Today if Ye Hear His Voice”
Reading: Heb. 3.
“Today if ye shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts… Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God: but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called Today; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin: for we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end” Heb. 3:7,12-14.
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” Heb. 4:1.
Everything in God’s purpose is bound up with our hearing His voice. I want to point out that the translation needs to be kept very accurate here. Unfortunately the Revised Version does not maintain its tradition of improvement at this point, and it should not be: “If ye shall hear His voice”, it should be: “If ye will hear His voice”. If you look at that very carefully you will immediately detect the difference. If we say: “If ye shall hear His voice” we put the onus on God, when really the onus is not upon God. The context makes it perfectly clear about having heard the Good News, and it is: “If ye will hear His voice”. God has spoken, the voice of God has sounded, and it is sounding today, and it is a matter of whether we will hear.
The force of that “will” is suggested by the earlier part of chapter 4. “Let us fear therefore, lest haply, a promise being left of entering into His rest, any one of you should be deemed to come short of it.” There is a tremendous emphasis upon our responsibility in relation to the voice of God. It is not that God will not speak, but that, God speaking, we shall not hear.
The word “consider” in the first verse of chapter 3 is a very strong word. Our simple English word there does not convey the force of the original language. The word really means “attentively consider”. It implies giving a fixed and prolonged attention to the matter. So you see that the atmosphere of this part of God’s Word is all that which suggests to our heart the necessity for attention.
In such an atmosphere there is this word: “If ye will hear His voice”. That means that we have to apply ourselves to hearing what the Lord is saying. It is a matter of application, of will, to hear His voice. Everything hangs upon that, as the whole context shows. All the promises of the land, all that which was presented to Israel as God’s great and glorious purpose to which they were called, were lost to that generation; and the implication is that they missed it all because they would not hear His voice.
That carries us to a very serious consideration. What was the voice to be heard? What was the voice saying? What was it that the voice was carrying with it? What was it that they would not hear? What was it they did not earnestly apply themselves to hear? If you look closely into the forty years’ history in the wilderness, you will see that everything called for application of heart, of mind, of will to understand. It called for close attention, because that which the Lord was doing with them had a meaning which was not too obvious, did not lie on the surface, could not be grasped instantly by any superficial glance. The dealings of God with them, the ways of God with them, contained a voice, a call, a message, a meaning, and it therefore required that they should earnestly attend to and apply the will, to say, in effect: “This means something more than we can see at a glance; we want to know what God means by this! There is a voice in this that is deeper than can be discerned by the outward ear; there is an inward ear required for this: there is something here to be seen which cannot be seen by the natural eye! The inner eye needs to be opened to see what God means by this!” And because they would not take that attitude and adjust themselves in that way, they missed everything. They simply took things as they saw them, and allowed them to become mere happenings, mere events, and judged by how those things affected their own personal interests and natural, earthly good. Chapter 3, verse 1 is the key to the whole thing. “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling” – “Today, if ye will hear…”
A heavenly calling! That puts a new complexion upon everything. What is the heavenly calling? A calling from above to glory and honour. How does the letter begin: “For not unto angels did He subject the inhabited earth to come, whereof we speak. But one hath somewhere testified, saying, What is man, that thou makest mention of him?” “But we behold Jesus… crowned with glory and honour.” “Thou dost make mention of him… wherefore, holy brethren, partners in a heavenly calling…” a calling from heaven, of glory and honour in association with the Son of Man, in relation to the inhabited earth to come. It is dominion with Christ that is in view. And today God is dealing with us in relation to that, and there is a heavenly meaning in God’s dealings with us.
Now go through Israel’s history. Not long after they had come into the wilderness they found themselves short of water, and they murmured against Moses and against the Lord. In effect they said, “We have been brought out here to perish!” That is taking the earthly point of view. There are two ways of viewing that. They could look at it like this, and say, “At least we had water to drink in Egypt, but here we are with no water to drink, and if we were going to perish we might as well have perished in Egypt!” They could have taken another view, and said, “Well, the Lord marvellously delivered us from Egypt; marvellously brought us through the Red Sea when it stood up like walls on either side; marvellously overwhelmed our enemies before our eyes, and wiped them out. He can surely provide water in a wilderness!” It depends whether you look up or down, whether you murmur, or whether you triumph.
Later they found themselves without anything to eat. Here was another chance for them to take one of two attitudes. They could take the downward attitude and say, “Now we are going to perish in the wilderness; we are going to die of starvation out here. We have been brought into a trap, all resources have been kept from us, and now this is the end of everything!” They could take the upward look and say, “God, who provided water, will surely provide bread in the wilderness!” Deliverance would have come from heaven, if they had seen the heavenly aspect of things.
In the lack of water, and in the lack of bread, and in every circumstance, no matter what it was – and the circumstances were numerous: adversity, want, hardship, weariness – there was a heavenly resource, but it required a heavenly faith, a heavenly aspect, a heavenly look. God was speaking in it all. What was He saying? In the absence of water, in the absence of bread, in these various and numerous situations, where nature and the world could make no provision, God was speaking, and He was saying continually through the forty years: “I am your resource! I am your portion! I am your life! I am your strength! I am thy sufficiency! I have brought you out here, not to let you perish, not to make you the victim of circumstances, but to teach you that for you earthly things at best could never be satisfying. And finally, your life; but in Me you have that which will not only maintain you here from stage to stage, but will be your everlasting portion, and bring you at last into My whole fulness.” God was seeking to say, “Here is another circumstance in which you can make a new discovery of Me, but if you look at the circumstance itself, you will go down! If you listen to My voice in the circumstance you will make a discovery, and that discovery will become your deliverance, your life.”
In His mercy they did make discoveries, but they never allowed the discoveries which they made to be permanent lessons. When every fresh trial came they forgot the Lord, because they were so centred upon their own interests. They could not, they would not, escape from themselves. As a thing came up before them, they immediately regarded it in the light of their own present personal interest: “Here is a bit more trial! That is a new blow! That is one more trouble to add to all my troubles!” That is one way of viewing things. There is another view. They could have said, “This is another lesson the Lord is trying to teach! What is the measure of the Lord that this trial will lead into if taken hold rightly, if viewed rightly?”
That land to which they were going was a great type of Christ in heaven, over the other side on resurrection ground, and they were brought through these trials in order that they might learn how now to live a heavenly life on the earth, by heavenly resources, here in the wilderness. But so set were they upon their own comfort, their own enjoyment, their own pleasure and satisfaction, that they could not detach themselves to listen to the voice; and because things were always regarded in a personal light, from the standpoint of personal interest, when troubles came they hardened their hearts against the inner voice.
It was, “Today”! What a tremendously impressive word that is, viewed in this light. Today! What does that mean? That text has been almost always used for Gospel sermons, and we do not do wrong in making an appeal by it to the unsaved, because the truth applies that there is a “Today!” when God’s voice is sounding to the unsaved, and God does not offer a tomorrow. This word is: “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts!” His voice heard in your heart will not give you a tomorrow. Let this day go, and you have no tomorrow for responding to His voice and doing what you have failed to do now in the presence of the voice with the heavenly calling. That is quite true.
But this text was never written for the unsaved, with all its value and application to them. It was written to the Lord’s own people, and it is tremendous when you hear such a word to the Lord’s people. That says to us that today God is speaking; in adversity, in trial, in suffering, in affliction, in all manner of difficulties into which He Himself has allowed us to come. He has brought us out into a place where all nature is cut off from us, where we are helpless in ourselves, and He allows us to come into the fires of trial and difficulty, and in them all He says, “My voice is the voice of a heavenly calling, the voice which is calling you up, ever higher, to know your heavenly resources, to know what there is for you in Christ even here, in order to prepare you for that dominion over the inhabited earth to come, for glory and honour with Him Who is now crowned with glory and honour.” We are become partners with Christ, if we hold fast.
“Today, if ye will…” What does that say to me and to you? It says, “Here is a trial, a difficulty; here is an adversity, a sorrow, a suffering. How am I going to view it? Am I going to say, Oh, more trouble! One thing after another! Or am I going to say, Yes, more trial – we feel it – and yet always there’s some new knowledge of the Lord, some new discovery, I must hear the voice in this! It is going to lead into some greater fulness, where we have never been before.” Harden not your heart. In other words, do not become bitter because of the trial, the difficulty, the suffering, but listen! The Lord is speaking, this is a great ‘Today’! I venture to say that when this ‘Today’ is past, and all that it was intended to mean to us, and we see its meaning, we shall be sorry that we did not adjust ourselves more wholeheartedly to what the Lord was saying to us here in the very difficulties into which He brought us. We shall say, “Oh, if only I had been more attentive and less self-occupied, I should have seen that in that particular experience the Lord was speaking to me, but it came and it went, and I regarded it as a bit of suffering and no more, and it led to nothing. It may be even that I became bitter, I rebelled and I hardened my heart because of the suffering.”
God forbid! “Today, if ye will hear… Wherefore, holy brethren, partners in a heavenly calling, today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
Edited and supplied by the Golden Candlestick Trust.
Tag Archives: Sabbath Rest
Entering God’s Rest by Joanne Panettieri
Ex 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. ”
Jeremiah 31: 33“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
2 Cor 3:3 “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
I recently ran across a Christian sister on Youtube who made the comment that she was a “Sabbath keeper”. After a lengthy chat she challenged me by saying, “What, don’t you obey the 10 commandments??” The question that arises for a New Testament believer is “are we still required to keep the 10 commandments”? Unfortunately for anyone trying to keep the them, you just can’t go one day without breaking them!
The apostle Paul clearly states that we are not made righteous by obeying the law. That is why Paul said he didn’t know what a lawbreaker was without the LAW. Paul says this, “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.” You can never be justified by religion or any practice outside of faith! If you replace faith by grace with obeying the law (or any of the 10 Commandments) you come under witchcraft (Gal 3). And in order to be justified by the law you must obey ALL of the laws. The point is that we can NOT keep the 10 commandments no matter how hard we try! This is why a New Covenant was given, “to write the laws on our heart”.
Ezk 36: 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; (The promised land, or Kingdom of God!) you will be my people, and I will be your God.
The apostle Paul takes this one step further in his constant battle against the Judaizers of his day where he states:
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
Is Keeping the Sabbath-rest a once a week occurrence?
For the New Covenant Christian the sabbath is NOT a day of the week any more! A careful reading of Hebrews 3 and 4 clearly shows that. The Sabbath Rest that God gave to Moses under the Old Covenant was a type and a shadow of a fulfillment of something found in Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 4 it is Canaan, the promised land, which is a type of the Kingdom of God on earth.
The following verses show that the REST is Canaan and NOT a day of the week!
Hebrews 3 – 4
3: 7: So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Hebrews 4: 1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’
8: For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.
It is not OUR Rest!
The Sabbath rest is typified by the 7th Day of creation, when God rested from His works and said “it is good”. God’s first day of rest is man’s (Adam’s) first day of taking up the work of God and continuing it on earth! It’s not OUR rest, we enter GOD’S rest! and it is TODAY! “TODAY if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts” The Sabbath of God is to enter the promised land by hearing his voice and obeying! Anytime you hear God’s voice and obey him you are entering God’s Rest! It is any time, any day! This is why Jesus was the living Sabbath because he ALWAYS DID WHAT HE HEARD THE FATHER TELL HIM TO DO! (John 5: 19-20)
We enter God’s rest when we cease from our works and enter HIS!
Isa 58: 13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The apostle Paul tells us that if we try to gain our righteousness from keeping the law that grace is of no effect!
Gal 5: 3 “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.”
Phil 3: 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith
“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 3:4