The time is today. Today helps explain if. The if of Hebrews 3:6 is a call to perseverance. Hebrews 3:7–4:13 is an amplification of that call. Your salvation is a present reality. You are in the last days, Hebrews 1:2. God has spoken definitively. Christ has accomplished the work of redemption, Hebrews 1:3. The Lord’s Supper assures you that that work has been completed. He is crowned, Hebrews 2:9, and you are his brothers, Hebrews 2:11, 3:1:12. You are the house of God, Hebrews 3:6. Your salvation is not yet fully realized. There is a certain tension to the Christian life. You are the house of God, Hebrews says, if. . . . (Hebrews 3:6). The Christ who was sacrificed once for all, is still coming to bring salvation, Hebrews 9:28. You are strangers and pilgrims in this earth, Hebrews 11:13. In our Scripture reading, your position is parallel to that of Israel in the desert. You are still looking for the promised rest.
Hebrews contrasts today with my rest. Notice how Hebrews uses the Old Testament. He makes his point in what he quotes and supplements it with his comments. Here we have an inspired interpretation of Psalm 95:7-11 and Genesis 2:2. Your position is like that of Israel in the wilderness. The quote is bracketed by today (v.7) and my [God’s] rest (v.11). The two are not identical to each other. Israel was looking ahead to Canaan, the promised land. Hebrews describes your goal in terms of location. You look ahead to God’s rest, heaven, Christ’s completed work. Today is the time of hoping for the promise. Today is the time for faith, trust, repentance, and preaching of God’s Word. God’s judgment is still future. Come to him now. Don’t demand the immediate fulfillment of your imaginations. Instead, rest on the reality of God’s promises. “To forsake the living God is always to fall into idolatry. Not that the recipients of this letter were in danger of transferring their worship to images of wood and stone; the constructions of human philosophy and speculation are no less idols, man-made and powerless to save. The essence of all idolatry, whether primitive or sophisticated, is the abandonment of the truth about God for a lie and the worship and service of the creature rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:25).” (P. E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 146).
Encourage one another. Do exhort one another. The whole letter is one of exhortation. Exhortation includes teaching, rebuke, encouraging, comforting, coming alongside. Show your concern for your brothers. The unity of the body of Christ is reason for you to care for your brothers. As dangers arise, make the rest of the house aware. Encourage and exhort them–and receive the same. Apply God’s Word to concrete situations, as the author of Hebrews does.
Instead of being hardened, hold onto Christ. Israel failed to enter God’s rest. Numbers 14 describes the rebellion, the unbelief, the failure to depend on God for what he had promised, Hebrews 3:19. They hardened their hearts and were punished, Hebrews 3:17,18. They failed to enter God’s rest—beware of the same danger. Sin is deceitful. Don’t become hardened. Instead, hold fast to your hope in Christ. Don’t be set on externals. Remember God’s promises. “The author instructs the readers that they must rely less upon the fulfillment than upon the promise. What they need is an eschatology of faith, not an eschatology of imagination.” (Geerhardus Vos, The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 21). Exhort and encourage one another to keep Jesus central in what you do, say, and even think.
Today is the day God has given you to respond to his Son, to trust—and keep on trusting in him.