Guarding Against Unbelief
Before the Israelites entered the promised land, God had them send twelve spies into Canaan on a reconnaissance mission. Two of those spies, Joshua and Caleb, are famous for their “minority report,” which concluded that the land was ripe for the taking. The people, though, would not listen to them, demonstrating their distrust of God. Despite all the evidence they had had of God’s reliability, the Israelites quickly reverted to trusting their own judgment.
In a moment of unbelief, the people feared they would die if, as Caleb and Joshua were urging them to, they chose to rely on God’s power to overcome a great enemy (Numbers 13:25 – 14:4). God responded with judgment: instead of enjoying the promised land, an entire generation spent the remainder of their lives in the wilderness, never experiencing the joy God had offered them (14:21-23).
Like the Israelites, you and I have a propensity for unbelief. The writer of Hebrews warns us, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). Such an exhortation wouldn’t be necessary if it weren’t possible for us to have sinful, unbelieving hearts! We do want to sin. We do want to go our own way. We do not wish to trust.
Unbelief hardens us so that when the Bible is preached, instead of God’s word coming into our hearts and minds like seeds sown in the ready earth, our hearts and minds become like a corrugated tin roof. The more the Bible is taught, the more its effect on us becomes like rain hitting against that which it cannot permeate.
So be on guard, lest your heart become impervious to the truth of Scripture. Be wary that you don’t become someone who defends the Bible, tells other people about it, and quotes from it, but all the while hardening your heart against what God is saying to you in it.
How do we protect ourselves against such unbelief? Exhort others to remember what God has done in and through Christ, and ask them to do the same for you (Colossians 3:16). And ask the same Spirit who authored Scripture to work in your heart as you hear His voice. As you are reminded of God’s power and care and as the Spirit goes to work in you, your heart will be softened to receive the seeds of His word.
The Mustard Seed and the Leaven
18He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
20And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”
The Narrow Door
22He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Lament over Jerusalem
31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
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