KNOW OR NO?
In our journey through Hebrews we are seeing the author relying heavily on Old Testament stories and scriptures to exhort his readers (who were Jewish Christians and would give major weight to the Old Testament). Let me briefly map this out for us. In Hebrews 2:2 the writer broadly introduces the fact that people in the Old Testament were punished for disobedience within their covenant relationship with Almighty God. He begins to build on that theme in chapter 3 by introducing a specific major defining moment in the history of Israel when they were in their infancy coming out of Egypt. In Numbers 13 and 14 we find the narrative that the author is alluding to through a quotation out of Psalm 95 in Hebrews 3:7-11. The Israelites are on the verge of entering the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses sends out scouts to scope out the land. 10 of the 12 scouts bring back a fear-based report to the people centred around the “giants” that lived in the land. The people buy that fear-mongering and rebel against God saying they want to appoint a new leader and return to Egypt. As a result, this redeemed group of people are banned from the Promised Land. The writer of Hebrews will continue to use this story as the base for warning in chapter 4. But for the purposes of this post I want draw out truth based on the Psalm 95 quote.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
11 As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
Going astray, the hardening of hearts, and rebellion against God are associated in 3:10 with not knowing “his ways.” The expression seems to indicate a failure to understand how God works. Yes, there are some giants in the land! But, that was all part of God’s plan to show his power in delivering them. In a sense, the Israelites were well aware of how God worked. They had experienced his amazing intervention in their lives repeatedly from the exodus out of Egypt until this present time. So perhaps for the Israelites it was more of a NO instead of a lack of KNOW. When God charges them with not knowing his ways, then, what he was referring to was the fact that the Israelites clearly did not WANT to know his ways. They KNEW how God worked, but didn’t like it; and they would not commit themselves to doing this his ways.
How about us? Hopefully the longer we have been a follower of Christ, the more we KNOW God’s ways; We come to know his character, his power, and his voice through experience and increasing knowledge of the Bible. We can look back and confidently see where his Hand has been at work. We can make a list of definitive moments and answers to prayer. We know his promises. But when the next crisis arises, how do we respond? Facing it with hope and confidence and faith because we “know His ways”? Or do we fight it and expend all our energy and resources because we say “NO” to God’s methods, wanting to have a hand of control in our circumstances?
May we never be found guilty in the eyes of God of “not knowing his ways”.