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Volume 12 - Page 83 of 160 Index | Zoom | |
The Provocation (3:)
pp. 88 - 91
Chapters 3: & 4: are bounded by the word "confession":--
"Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession" (3: 1 R.V.).
"Let us hold fast our confession" (4: 14 R.V.).
It is evident that the Hebrew believers were exhorted to consider Christ as an
example in the matter of this "confession". A somewhat parallel double occurrence is
I Tim. 6: 12-14 where Timothy's "good confession" is associated with that of Christ
before Pontius Pilate. The word contains an element of danger and opposition, and the
exhortation is to hold it unto the end. The one great feature which is singled out by the
apostle in the case of Christ Himself is that He "was FAITHFUL" (Heb. 2: 17, 3: 2).
Within the bounds set by 3: 1 and 4: 14 therefore will come some further teaching,
example, exhortation, encouragement and warning, such as will, by the grace of God,
help the tried believer to hold on his way.
The one feature of Christ which the Hebrew believers were called upon to consider
was His faithfulness; the one great warning which follows is that against unbelief:--
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of UNBELIEF, in
departing from the living God" (3: 12).
"So we see that they could not enter in because of UNBELIEF" (3: 19).
"The word preached did not profit them, because they were not united by FAITH with
them that heard."
The great example is "the provocation". This word comes from pikraino--"to be
bitter", and illuminates Heb. 12: 15, 16, where another type for the believers' warning
(Esau) is closely linked with a "root of bitterness". The great "text" of the apostle in
these two chapters is taken from Psa. 95:, which he introduces with the solemn words,
"As the Holy Ghost saith".
It is evident that we must know something of this "provocation" on the part of Israel if
we would profit by the Scripture before us. In Num. 14: we have the record. Caleb and
Joshua had urged upon the people a confident faith in the Lord with respect to the entry
into and possession of the land of promise.
"But all the congregation bade stone them with stones . . . . . And the Lord said unto
Moses, How long will this people PROVOKE Me?" (Num. 14: 10, 11).
Their provoking was largely due to their unbelief, for the passage continues, "How
long will it be ere they believe Me?" The Lord threatened to disinherit and smite the
people, but upon the prayer of Moses He said, "I have pardoned according to thy word".
The people therefore were a pardoned people. But does this mean that they did go up
and possess the land? No, for after pronouncing the gracious pardon the Lord added:--