Jesus: Loud & Clear;
Front & Center (Hebrews)

The Danger of Hard-Heartedness

December 14, 2014

Group Resources

For the Week of December 14, 2014

Sermon in a Sentence: “In the midst of trials, continuing rebellion against God is a sign of an evil, unbelieving heart. But, true believers rely on Christ and hold fast to the end.”

This Week’s Resources:


  • Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
  • Can you describe one of the most stressful times in your life? What was the cause of the stress? How did you respond?
  • Can you describe one of the most restful times in your life? Why was it restful? Did you know and appreciate the time of rest?

Read the Text (Hebrews 3:7-19)

As we have noted in prior weeks, Hebrews contains five important warning passages. This week we see Warning Sign #2 in our headlights. The writer to the Hebrews is warning his readings of the danger of hard heartedness. To illustrate his point, he pulls from Israel’s early history as a nation, and to two important tests the Lord placed in front of Israel. As we study this week’s lesson, it’s important to remember that the trials we face in life are often placed there by the Lord to test our faith. Read Hebrews 3:7-19.

Digging Deeper

God places tests in our pathway to prove our faith and refine our faith (1 Peter 1:6-9). In this week’s lesson, we will examine two tests from Israel’s history and learn how not to respond. This is the point of this second warning passage.

The Internal Test–The Waters of Meribah. (Read Exodus 17:1-7).

  • How did the Lord test Israel in Exodus 17?
  • What was the response of the people?
  • What does their response tell us about their faith in the Lord?
  • Why would the writer to the Hebrews use this example to demonstrate a hard-hearted response to God?

The External Tests–Kadesh Barnea (Read Numbers 13:25-14:4).

  • How did God test Israel in Numbers 13 & 14?
  • What was the response of the people?
  • What does their response tell us about their faith in the Lord?
  • Why would the writer to the Hebrews use this example to demonstrate a hard-hearted response to God?

The Holy Spirit’s Response to Israel’s Testing (Read Psalm 95:6-11).

  • How do we know this is the Holy Spirit Speaking?
  • With all of this as context, how does the warning in Hebrews 3:12-14 apply to us today? Specifically, what does this tell us about the concept of rest as it relates to trials?

Three practical lessons emerge from our lesson this week. One, tests come to soften our spirits, not to harden our hearts. Two, rest means that I accept what God wants, not what I want. And three, when resting accompanies testing, divine surprises replace human striving.

Concluding Thoughts

  • Knowing what we now know about the decisions Israel made that determined their destiny, what advice would you give them if you could speak into their trials at these two crossroads?
  • Think back on the various cross roads in your life. How did you respond in the midst of those trials? How could you have responded differently in a way that would have honored God?
  • Are you in the midst of any trials right now that are testing and refining your faith? Take a few minutes to think through your responses. How should you respond in a way that shows you trust God?
  • What is keeping you from trusting God in the midst of your trials?
  • Verse 13 tells us, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Another word for exhort is encourage. Is there someone in your circle of influence who is in the midst of a trial? How can you be faithful to this biblical command and encourage that person?

The perseverance of our faith in testing is the way to enter God’s rest. Very simply, here’s how it works. Whenever we come to a barrier that creates an inner churning, rather than rolling up our sleeves and resisting, we should take a deep breath and relax. Instantly, we should turn to God and say, “Lord, I don’t know what it means, but I take this as a test from You. Give me the heart of a learner and teach me from it.” –Charles Swindoll