The recent movie Inception explored the possibility of having a dream within a dream. This engaging sci-fi thriller imagined going even deeper, as much as four levels deep. In the text covered today, the Hebrews writer explores a text within a text, as much as three or four levels deep. Let’s see if we can peel back the layers.
The first level is the text of the sermon (focusing today on Hebrews 3.7-4.13), which cites Psalms 95.7-11 that is itself a reflection on the events of Exodus 17 and Numbers 14. Working backwards through this text, we discovered that the Exodus and Numbers texts tell of how Israel rebelled against God, first, in not trusting God to provide water for the journey, and, second, for refusing to trust God’s ability to lead them into the Promised Land. The Book of Numbers records several rebellions against God: Aaron and Miriam conspiring against Moses (chapter 12), the people refusing to enter the land (14), and Korah’s rebellion (16).
In Numbers 14, God promises that everyone, except the faithful spies Joshua and Caleb, would die in the desert. Not one of them would get to enter the Promised Land.
Today—if you hear his voice:
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion
Like the day of testing in the desert
where your fathers tried me;
they tested me though they viewed my deeds.
Forty years this generation irked me
So I said, “Their hearts were deceived and
they did not know my ways;
As I swore an oath in my anger,
“They will never enter into my rest.”
(Psa 95.11b-11 LXX, my translation)
Psalm 95 begins as a psalm of praise but ends with the warning not to harden one’s heart against the voice of God. The psalm ends with a declaration of warning: “They [the Israelites] shall never enter my rest.”
Finally, years later, the Hebrews writer picks up Psalms 95 to warn his people not to rebel against God. However, he does not stress the ominous “They shall never enter my rest,” but rather a single word that occurs earlier: “today.” So encourage each other today. Don’t be hardened by sin today. Hear his voice today.
Because Today is really all you have.