Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works for 40 years. Hebrews 3:7-9
One of the signs of getting older is telling others the same stories over and over. You think it’s not going to happen to you, but I find myself saying quite often, “If I’ve told you this, stop me!” Most of the time, stories over lunch need only be told once. But there are exceptions. Teachers repeat themselves to get important facts across. Parents repeat themselves to teach fundamental principles. Lovers build a repetitive love language because they can’t help themselves and they know that you can’t say ‘I love you’ often enough. I, perhaps like you, even have things I repeat to our pets. I make up songs, poems, and enjoy calling them endearing nicknames. It’s fun to sing them and eventually, the animals come running when they hear something they recognize.
One thing about scripture is how often it repeats itself. Jesus quoted the Old Testament 78 times. Most books will also reference direct quotes from previous authors and there are also indirect quotes.
- Direct quotes: 302
- Allusions to other passages: 493
- Possible allusions: 138
When God repeats Himself, as His child, I must sit up at attention to ask why. God is not forgetful, so He is intentionally choosing to say something a second or third time. There are no stray words that exit His mouth. No word or phrase is insignificant. Furthermore, God doesn’t even need language to make a point.
In today’s scripture, the writer of Hebrews reaches back to quote Psalm 95. The topic is ‘being careful not to harden my heart.’ God not only repeated himself this once, but it’s repeated 42 more times. It must be critical. I must not know how easily I allow my heart to get hard and calloused. It’s instinctive to my flesh and therefore I must be on guard to prevent it from happening.
For me, hardening my heart happens for several reasons. When I want something different than what God wants for me and turn off my ears to a command, when I repeatedly refuse to embrace a promise as mine, when I refute His proclamations of love because He doesn’t relieve my pain, when I’m tested and get angry with the test, when people I love hurt longer than I think they should, when the person delivering God’s Word is someone I don’t like ~ these are often the catalysts.
God tested His people in the wilderness. Testing was to bring about spiritual growth, to tone their faith muscles, but they strained under the lessons and chose the easy way out. Unbelief and rebellion were always the result. The long-term tragedy was that most in that generation never saw Canaan. The cost for turning off God’s voice is more than I can afford but I think I’ll be the exception. Satan lies! I’ll miss out on what I believe I’m seeking elsewhere ~ blessing and reward.
I’m asking this one thing today, Father. Have I hardened my heart about anything that You’ve told me? I am sincerely asking. Show me. Amen