The author of Hebrews warned Christian friends going through a spiritual wilderness, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways’; as I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest’” (Heb. 3:7-11 NASB).
He went on to explain, “To whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:18-19 NASB). Thus He used strong terms to warn His Church against disobedience in a spiritual wilderness. Just as God disciplined Israel, so would He discipline them if they continued to disobey. Suffering a difficult season was no excuse for violating God’s Word.
Now let’s look a little closer. The author of Hebrews linked obedience to faith like two sides of the same coin. The two words were interchangeable in the verse quoted just above. God banned Israel from the Promised Land for disobedience in the first sentence, and for unbelief in the second. Their lack of faith led to their disobedience. Their disobedience indicated their lack of faith. Further, the author made very clear exactly what “word” Israel disbelieved and disobeyed. “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” (Heb. 4:2 NASB).