Hebrews – Chapter Twelve XLIV

by Ed Urzi

“Take care not to refuse the one who is speaking! For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less shall we, if we reject the one who warns from heaven?” (Hebrews 12:25 NET).

In light of Israel’s failure to heed God’s direction following their departure from Egypt, the author of Hebrews encouraged his readers to avoid replicating their poor example. This recalls our author’s historic reference from earlier in this epistle…

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! “‘Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness. There your fathers tested me and tried me, and they saw my works for forty years'” (Hebrews 3:7-9 NET).

The example set by the ancient Israelites thus provides us with an object lesson that directs us toward a universal truth: choices lead to consequences. The people of Israel made the wrong choice in refusing the One who spoke to them during that period. That choice led to some painful and irreversible consequences…

“…Then the Lord said ‘…not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will ever see it… The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.'” (Numbers 14: 22-23, 30 NLT).

This passage also reinforces a cautionary message that appeared in Hebrews chapter ten…

“…anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said, ‘I will take revenge. I will pay them back.’ He also said, ‘The Lord will judge his own people.'” (Hebrews 10:28-30 NLT).

Therefore. we would do well to remember these historical lessons to help avoid repeating them. In the words of one author, “God’s voice speaking the gospel must be heard with even greater attention and faith than the law spoken at Sinai (2:1–4; 3:1–5; 10:28, 29).” (1)

(1) R. C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 2220