Heed the Warning
Referring to the writings of the Old Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “These things took place as examples for us that we might not desire evil as they did.” And a little later, “But they were written down for our instruction on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11b). The Preacher is doing the same thing here in his sermon to the Hebrews: He uses Psalm 95 and Israel’s rebellion in the wilderness to encourage, indeed warn, the Hebrews to “hold [their] original confidence firm to the end.”
Those ancient Hebrews had seen the Lord do so much for them: plaguing the Egyptians ten separate times, parting the Red Sea, drowning the Egyptian army, spreading a table of manna and quail in a desert, providing a fountain from a rock, descending on Mount Sinai in thunder, lightning, and earthquake, and carving his law in stone for them to follow. There were no questions left unanswered; theirs was only to obey. It is true that there were giants in the land, but the Lord had conquered every “giant” they had encountered thus far. They need only trust and obey and they would enter into the land promised to their father, Abraham, the land the Preacher borrowing from Psalm 95:11 calls here, “rest.” But they didn’t obey. At the crucial moment, they would not trust God, take courage, and enter in. They even spoke of choosing a leader to take them back to Egypt. And God took it personal: “How long will this people despise me (Numbers 14:11)?”
The ancient Hebrews thus serve as a negative example for those “on whom the end of the ages has come.” And the warning for both the Hebrews to whom the Preacher was writing and to us is: Don’t let this happen to you! And it would be entirely inappropriate at this point to interject arguments about how this passage supports or does not support “once saved, always saved.” To sum, it does not touch on that at all. The point of this passage is to issue a stern warning to God’s people that falling prey to hardening due to the deceitfulness of sin, not holding to our original confidence, falling away, rebellion, disobedience, is all rooted in unbelief—a despising of the Lord God who sent His Son to deliver us from temptation and sin—which is a far greater thing than all plagues, parting of seas, shaking of mountains, and any other miracle He performed in the desert. We have less excuse than they did to balk right at the door. And if we do balk, if we do faint, if we do fall away, if we do quit before we finish the race—we will NOT enter His rest—“once saved, always saved,” notwithstanding. Heed the warning!