Hebrews 3:16 — Fire Insurance or Full Assurance
For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?
Every person who holds a mortgage is required by their mortgage company to hold insurance on their house. The insurance provides the bank a manner through which it may recover the loss if you default on your loan. Having insurance on your house is a wise and responsible financial investment. The insurance gives you a peace of mind that, if your house should be destroyed, you can replace your house. The peace of mind that is bought is priceless.
Every Christian should possess peace of mind regarding his fellowship with Christ. Knowing the blessings of full salvation in Christ, the believer rests in the faith that Christ has done everything that is necessary for salvation, including the believer’s ability to experience a victorious Christian life. Some Christians do not want to experience the rest that faith provides. They remain content with the knowledge that they are saved from hell rather than resting in the knowledge that heaven is their final destination. They make little or no progress in their spiritual lives, and they are content with the progress they have made. The writer of Hebrews calls such pathetic behavior unbelief. The third chapter of Hebrews is written to present Christ is the perfect rest. Moses is compared to Christ, and the illustration of entering into rest is found in Moses’ leadership of Israel as they left Egypt for the promised land. Because of unbelief, the Israelites were cursed to wander in the wilderness. The third chapter of Hebrews gives a strict warning to the Christian. Do not allow unbelief to prevent you from experiencing joy and blessing in the Christian life.
In order to understand our text, we must understand the context. Starting in verse fifteen, we see a quotation and explanation of Psalm 95:7-11. “7) For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, 8) Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness, 9)When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. 10)For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways. 11)Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest.”
The Lord punished Israel for their unbelief. Because they refused to believe what God had told them about entering the land, God commanded that all over the age of twenty would perish as the nation wandered in the wilderness for forty years. The writer of Hebrews uses strong language to describe those who died in the wilderness. “And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?”1 The people were so useless and faithless in God’s sight that their dead bodies were likened to the carcass of a dead animal. Such is the hatred of God upon unbelief.
What does the dying of faithless Israelites in a desert over 3,400 years ago have to do with today’s Christian? The writer of Hebrews warns his readers against the sin of unbelief.
The recall of our memory to the pathetic story of Israel’s forty years of wandering gives today’s Christian a warning of the dangers of unbelief. There are two basic dangers of unbelief.
The first is the danger of disobedience. Andrew Murray says, “Unbelief is ever the cause of disobedience.”1 Unbelief is the core of the original sin. Eve did not believe that God’s command was sufficient for her happiness, so she ate the fruit. All sin is exactly like the sin in Eden. When we sin, we tell God that we do not believe that He has provided adequately for our happiness. We tell God that we are not willing to do what He desires because we know better than He does. The Lord told the Israelites that He would drive the Canaanites from the land before them, but Israel did not believe Him. They saw that the people were giants, not believing that God was bigger than the giants. As a result, God caused the Israelites to wander. When they did enter the land, they had to fight to conquer the land. If they had only believed and obeyed, they could have entered the land with ease. Unbelief only made later obedience harder. When you sin, you exercise your unbelief, and your later obedience will only be harder. You might have been on the verge of victory, but you rejected victory because of unbelief. You will realize that you missed blessings because you were wandering in the wilderness. Believe that God has provided for your happiness, no matter how dark or difficult the immediate future seems. God knows better than we do what the future holds. Trust that He will maintain your happiness with blessings you cannot imagine. Do not allow your limited imagination to convince you that the blessings of the future do not outweigh immediate self-gratification. Believe that obedience, no matter how difficult or seemingly illogical, will provide blessing. Rest in God’s care.
The second danger of unbelief is disinterest in spiritual things. We could use several words to describe spiritual disinterest: apathy, indifference and laziness. What does apathy look like? The Christian holds little interest in the things of God. He contents himself with the fact that he is saved from hell. He possesses little or no delight in salvation beyond the fact that he has fire insurance. The well-known author Andrew Murray wrote, “They would … be made happy in being delivered from bondage; they long not to be made holy in a life of separation and service.”2 Holiness is not beautiful to the apathetic believer. Rather, the Christian would cling to sinful behaviors, taking for granted the grace and forgiveness of God. Such a Christian finds no rest in salvation because He does not take God at His word. Instead, he finds himself fighting against God, asking God, ‘Why are You allowing these things to happen to me? Why do things never seem to go my way? Why won’t You answer my prayers?” James 4:4 says, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” To befriend the sins of this world is to place one’s self at war with God. No wonder the unbelieving Christian finds no rest in his relationship with God. God has said, ‘He will not enter my rest.’ Living in holiness becomes a fearful proposition when one does not believe that holiness is the best way to live.
Rest in the fact that God loves you with a passion. Rest in the fact that your salvation provides you with all of the blessings of the eternal inheritance in Christ. Rest in the fact that God has not just barely saved you; He has given your full salvation. Rest in the joy of the assurance of salvation your fellowship with God affords.
What are your thoughts on this verse?
Why did Israel not enter the Promised Land when they should have?
Do you see the two dangers in your life? If so, how?
What does this verse mean for your salvation?