Sunday, August 27, 2017

Jacob trying to keep his people from provoking God

 
Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness. (Jacob 1:7)

Here Jacob tells us his major concern about his people—that with their stubbornness they would provoke the Lord into decreeing that they would not enter the rest of the Lord.

It is clear to me that Jacob used the stories of the children of Israel in the wilderness as an example of the consequences of rebelling, murmuring, and not believing the Lord. He realized that this wasn’t an isolated incident, but there was a danger it would happen in each generation of Israelite descendants. (And of course that means there is a danger it can happen today in the church.)

Jacob's words seem to have been influenced by Psalms 95:7-11:

7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,
8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

In Psalms it is pointed out that the Israelites saw the Lord’s work, tested Him, but apparently hardened their hearts anyway. That provoked the Lord.

We also gain more insight about what might have been taught if we read Hebrews 3:7-19:

7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,
8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;
15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.
17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Paul’s warning to the Saints is that they make sure they don’t depart from the Lord, follow the deceitfulness of sin, become hardened, and die in their sins.  Instead, they were to hold their confidence steadfast to the end.  In short, this appears to be about the need to endure to the end.