The author of Hebrews has just repeated a line from Psalm 95:8 for us. That passage refers to some people who caused God to become angry. The author has a question for his readers. He asks who these people were. Who would actually do such a terrible thing?
The authorís question is actually just the first in a series of questions. The answer to all the questions is the same. And they are not hard questions to answer. Everyone in Israel already knew their nationís history. They would all know which people the passage refers to.
But the author writes in this style because he has to overcome a problem. Bible teachers often have this problem. People often think that they already know the answers. And so they are not ready to learn. But the Bible teacher is not merely trying to teach the answers to questions. He wants people to understand and to believe what the Bible says. If they really did that, the Bibleís message would change their lives.
The author of Hebrews needs to show how terrible the attitude of unbelief is. His readers already know the facts. But perhaps they do not yet realise the lesson that they must learn from those facts. So he expresses shock. It is as if he cannot believe it. And, with one question after another, the shock only seems to become worse.
So let us answer his first question. Who caused God to become angry? The answer is the people that Moses led out of Egypt. If that question and answer do not seem terrible to you, you have not yet understood the authorís lesson. But let me explain, and then you too will feel the sense of shock.
It is terrible that anyone should ever cause God to become angry. God is good and he is kind. He is patient, and he does not become angry easily. People must do something terrible in order to make God angry.
But who was it who caused God to become angry? That is the most terrible fact. It was the people whom God saved. God himself had sent his servant Moses to rescue them from Egypt. God had done wonderful things to make them free. But they were not grateful. They did not obey him with glad hearts. They refused to obey him. They did not want him to have any part of their lives. They even wanted to return to Egypt.
And the shock is this. Today, Christians are the people whom God has saved. And we too can make God angry if we have those same wrong attitudes. That is the authorís clear message.
Many Christians do not believe that real Christians can ever lose their relationship with God. Other Christians do not agree. But they should all read again the story that Jesus told in Mark 4:1-20. He spoke about 4 groups of people who heard Godís message.
The first group lost what they had heard immediately. It had no effect in their lives. The last group remained loyal to God. They achieved the results that God wanted in their lives. The author of Hebrews always urges us to be like that group.
But the second and third groups both seemed to accept Godís message. They believed it and they followed it for some time. But in the end, they failed. They did not remain loyal to God. And so they did not achieve the results that God wanted from their lives.
We must not be like them.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.