Greek: Dio kathos legei (3SPAI) to pneuma to hagion Semeron ean tes phones autou akousete (2PAAS)
Amplified: Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you will hear His voice, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: (Westminster Press)
NLT: That is why the Holy Spirit says, "Today you must listen to his voice. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: We ought to take note of these words in which the Holy Spirit says: 'Today, if you will hear his voice, (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Wherefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if His voice you will hear, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
THE FIVE WARNING PASSAGES
|Hebrews 2:1-4 (notes)|
|Hebrews 3:7-4:13 (notes)|
|Hebrews 5:11-6:12 (notes)|
|Hebrews 10:19-39 (notes)|
|Hebrews 12:14-29 (notes)|
THEREFORE: dio: Spurgeon says this introduces "a long parenthesis."
Wuest explains it this way - The word “therefore” reaches back into the epistle to the three preceding arguments. In view of the fact that Messiah is better than the prophets, the angels, and Moses, the warning is, not to harden their hearts in renouncing their professed faith in Messiah and returning to the sacrifices. The construction is; Wherefore (Heb 3:7), take heed (Heb 3:12), the contents of Heb 3:7–11 being the parenthetical background and scriptural enforcement of the warning of verse 12. The warning of the parenthetical passage is however addressed to the readers. (Hebrews - Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)
Therefore - for discussion of the value of taking note of terms of conclusion. In short, whenever you encounter a "therefore" (consequently, for this reason, etc), take a deep breath, slow down and ask yourself what is it "there for"? As you begin to make this your habitual practice, you will find that it becomes second nature and begins to uncover the writer's train of thought in a way that heretofore you may have overlooked.
The point is that the preceding verse is a serious exhortation which leads the writer to reinforce the truth with a familiar illustration of the danger of not holding fast. He reminds his readers of the sad time in Israel's history when they did not hold fast. He explains that the results of their failure to hold fast was the stimulation of the anger of God and of their failure to enter God's rest. He explains that their "not holding fast" was manifest by their disobedience which was directly related to unbelief, an unbelief which produced a hard hearts which apostatized. So his point is "Therefore" remember their example of disobedience... we have a "holy calling" and it is proven genuine by our holding fast to the end.
In view of the fact that God has spoken in His Son in these last days and the Messiah is better than the prophets, the angels, and Moses, the readers were being warned not to harden their hearts in renouncing their professed faith in the finished work of Messiah and returning to their daily sacrifices!
JUST AS THE HOLY SPIRIT SAYS TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE: kathos legei (3SPAI) to pneuma to hagion Semeron ean akousete (2PAAS) tes phones autou: (He 9:8; 2Samuel 23:2; Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; 28:25) (He 3:13,15; 4:7; Ps 95:7, 8, 9, 10, 11; Pr 27:1; Eccl 9:10; Is 55:6; 2Co 6:1,2; Jas 4:13, 14, 15) (Ps 81:11,13; Is 55:3; Mt 17:5; Jn 5:25; 10:3,16,27; Rev 3:20)
The writer goes on to quote from Psalm 95:7-11 and in so doing corroborates the divine inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures explaining that they were the words of the Holy Spirit.
Peter's explains the Holy Spirit's role in divine inspiration writing that "no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (see note 2 Peter 1:21)
Spurgeon - The apostle is continually quoting from the Old Testament, but he does not often present his quotations in this peculiar fashion. In the very next chapter, when he is speaking of the same passage, he uses the expression, “speaking by David” (Heb 4:7)—mentioning the human author of the psalm. But in this case, to give full emphasis to the truth, he quotes the divine author alone—“As the Holy Spirit says.” These words, it is true, are applicable to every passage of sacred Scripture, for we may say of all the inspired books, “As the Holy Spirit says.” But it is designedly used here that the passage may have the greater weight with us. The Holy Ghost, in fact, not only speaks thus in Psalm 95, but it is His unvarying utterance. The Holy Ghost says, or continues still to say, “Hear His voice today.” How does the Holy Ghost thus speak? He says this first in the Scriptures. Every command of Scripture calls for immediate obedience. The law of God is not given to us to be laid on the shelf to be obeyed at some future period of life, and the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is not so intended for the eleventh hour as to be lightly trifled with during the first ten. Wherever the Holy Ghost exhorts, He speaks in the present tense, and bids us now repent, or now believe, or now seek the Lord. Further, while the Holy Ghost speaks in Scripture, He speaks in the same manner in the hearts of His people. He is a living and active agent; His work is not ended; He speaks and writes still. The pen is still in His hand, not to write with ink upon paper, but upon the fleshy tablets of prepared hearts. The like is also true when the Holy Ghost speaks in the awakened. They are not yet numbered with the people of God, but they are under concern of soul. Everywhere a truly awakened sinner pleads in the present tense, and cries mightily for a present salvation, and it is certain that whenever the Holy Ghost strives with men, He urgently cries, “Today! Today!” Once more, the Holy Ghost speaks thus by His deeds as well as by His words. We have a common proverb that actions speak more loudly than words. Now the acts of the Holy Spirit in the leading of many to the Savior are so many practical invitations, encouragements, and commands to others. The gate of mercy stands open every day in the year, and its very openness is an invitation and a command to enter. Is not the bringing of one sinner to Himself intended to allure others?
In Psalm 95 David writes...
The children of Israel tested God and challenged His authority by rebelling in the wilderness and because of their rebellion, they failed to enter into the rest of Canaan, the land of milk and honey and instead perished in the wilderness land.
John MacArthur emphasizes the point that "The Holy Spirit was involved in the writing of every word of Scripture. That is why it is sin in the first degree, and opens the floodgates to every kind of heresy possible, to deny the absolute verbal inspiration of Scripture. God originated the autographs, the first copies, to the very word." (Hebrews. Moody Press)
Wuest - The writer quotes from Psalm 95:7–11. The psalm was written by David, but the writer attributes it here to the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost spoke the words. David, the inspired penman, wrote them down. The Hebrew reads, “O that you would hear his voice.” The Greek has the conditional particle ean introducing a conditional sentence, undetermined but with prospect of determination. The condition which must be met if these Hebrews are to hear the voice of God that they not harden their hearts. In the psalm, the pronoun “he” refers back to God. In the context into which the writer of this epistle has put it, it refers back to Christ. This makes the Jehovah of the O.T., the Messiah of the N.T. It is He who is said to have spoken the words of the New Testament (Heb 2:3). These Jews were leaning back towards the First Testament. This was a heart-hardening process. They are warned against it.
Today is a key word in this first section of Hebrews being used in this verse and in (Heb 3:13-note, Heb 3:15-note, Heb 4:7-note). Today emphasizes urgency. Not yesterday, not tomorrow but today. At this very time, this present moment. Now! The point of this section of Hebrews is that if one knows the truth about Jesus and His gospel, they should not imitate the sluggish response of Israel who knew God's truth and saw His miracles and yet failed to surrender to His truth. To harden one's heart is not only very foolish but is also very dangerous, for you do not know how long you will have to decide. Benjamin Franklin was correct when he advised never to put off until tomorrow what you can do today, especially if it relates to your eternal destiny!
Spurgeon - Today is the only time we have. Happily for us, the Holy Ghost says, “Today, if you hear his voice.” Never do I find Him saying “tomorrow.” His servants have often been repulsed by men like Felix who have said, “Go your way for this time. When I have a more convenient season I will send for you.” And never did any apostle say, “Repent tomorrow, or wait for some convenient season to believe.” The constant testimony of the Holy Ghost, with regard to the one single part of time, which I have shown indeed to be all time, is, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” The text inculcates a special duty. The duty is that we should hear the voice of God. The text bids us hear the voice of the Father saying, “Return to me, you backsliding children. Come now, and let us reason together. Even though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white like snow” (Isa 1:18). Or it may be the voice of Jesus Christ, for it is of Him that the apostle is here speaking. It is Jesus who calls, “Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). In fact, the voice to be heard is that of the Sacred Trinity, for with the Father and the Son, the Spirit also says, “Come.”
If you hear - The idea of hearing is a key idea in Hebrews...
This is a well-known exhortation found in the Talmud: “Rabbi ‘Eli‘ezer said, "Repent one day before you die.’ His talmidim objected, ‘Does one know in advance the day of one’s death?’ He replied, ‘All the more reason to repent today, lest you die tomorrow! In this way, your entire life will be one of repentance.’ ” (Shabbat 153a)
Every Jew knew this passage by heart because its opening line served as a call to worship every Sabbath evening in the synagogue with these words: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”
These solemn words were proclaimed week after week, year after year, as a call and a charge to carefully listen to the voice of God. Hebrew ears perked up at their sound or at least they should have! And so should ours, especially if we are reading these solemn passages and have only made a profession of faith but lack evidence to validate our profession (see the important discussion of what constitutes faith that is alive and that is useful, i.e., faith that brings about salvation - )
No one knows if he will have a tomorrow in which to decide. Today signifies the present time of grace. Men today, as in the time of Moody and in the time of Hebrews and in the time of David and in the time of Moses, never know how long that time of grace for them will be.
In the psalm, the pronoun “He” refers back to God. In the context into which the writer of this epistle has put it, it refers back to Christ. This makes the Jehovah of the OT, the Messiah of the NT. It is He who is said to have spoken the words of the NT (James 2:14-26-notes).
Listening to God and obeying Him are matters of the will. So is hardening the heart to Him, as Israel did. Paul warns that our hearts, or consciences, can become seared and insensitive, as skin does when it is badly burned (1Ti4:2). The scar tissue that replaces the skin has very little feeling.
Something very much like this happens to a conscience that is repeatedly disregarded.
Today lasts only as long as there is opportunity to decide-and as long as the conscience is sensitive to God. When a person’s “today” is over, it is then too late. His heart gets harder every time he says no to Jesus Christ or to any part of His truth or will. When the heart is soft, when the conscience is sensitive, when the intellect is convinced about Christ-that is the time to decide, when one is still pliable and responsive. Otherwise he will eventually become spiritually hard, stubborn, and insensitive. The gospel will no longer have any appeal.
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Our Daily Bread - Are You Listening? - One summer an annoyed senior citizen from Richmond Heights, Missouri, hung up on President Reagan. He did it not just once but half a dozen times. The elderly gentleman didn't knowingly refuse to talk to the Chief Executive; he just didn't believe that the President was calling him. He was sure it was a prank. But the Southwestern Bell operator and a neighbor finally convinced him it was for real. As a result, the man had the privilege of chatting with Mr. Reagan for about fifteen minutes.
Many centuries ago a young Israelite named Samuel also received a call from a surprising source. He didn't realize who was calling, even when it was repeated. It came from one greater than a president. At first Samuel was perplexed, but when Eli told him God was trying to get through to him, he listened.
We Christians sometimes have the same response when God speaks to us. Deep down in our awareness we may have a thought or conviction that we cannot understand. At first, we may not recognize it as God's voice. Then, when we're convinced it's Him, we're surprised that He would want to speak to us. But God is personal. He wants us to know Him. He has spoken through His written Word, the Bible, and through the living Word, Christ. In addition, He indwells us in the person of the Holy Spirit who enables us to "hear His voice."
God is always trying to get through to us. That means we must always be listening. —M. R. De Haan II (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
There are two kinds of Christians—
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Hebrews 3:7ff - D. L. Moody called it the biggest blunder of his life. It happened on October 8, 1871, during a preaching series in Farwell Hall, Chicago. His text was “What then shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ.” At the conclusion of the sermon Moody said he would give the people one week to make up their minds about Jesus. He then turned to Ira Sankey for a solo, and Sankey sang “Today the Saviour Calls.” But by the third verse Sankey’s voice was drowned out by the noise outside the hall. The great Chicago fire had begun, and the flames were even then sweeping toward the Hall. The clanging of the fire bells and the noise of the engines made it impossible to continue the meeting. In the years that followed, Moody wished that he had called for an immediate decision for Christ. (Wiersbe, Warren: The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers. Moody, 1984)
Steven Cole writes...
Greek: me sklerunete (2PAAS) tas kardias humon hos en to parapikrasmo kata ten hemeran tou peirasmou en te eremo (this is almost a direct quote of Lxx of Ps 95:8)
Amplified: Do not harden your hearts, as [happened] in the rebellion [of Israel] and their provocation and embitterment [of Me] in the day of testing in the wilderness, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Don't harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested God's patience in the wilderness. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: do not harden your hearts in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: do not go on hardening your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of the putting to the test in the wilderness (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS: me sklerunete (2PAAS) tas kardias humon: (He 3:12,13; Exodus 8:15; 1Samuel 6:6; 2Kings 17:14; 2Chronicles 30:8; 36:13; Nehemiah 9:16; Job 9:4; Proverbs 28:14; 29:1; Jeremiah 7:26; Ezekiel 3:7, 8, 9; Daniel 5:20; Zechariah 7:11,12; Matthew 13:15; Acts 19:9; Romans 2:5,6) (Procrastination; Self-will and Stubbornness)
Spurgeon on do not harden your hearts - Do not provoke your God by your quibbling, or your murmuring, or your idolatry; act not as those unbelievers did who died in the wilderness. You are His house. Give Him rest; do not provoke Him. If you belong to Him, be holy; do not grieve Him. If you are His house, be not defiled; surely He should dwell in a holy place. A common way of provoking God and hardening the heart is that indicated by the context. “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness.” That is to say, by unbelief, by saying, “God cannot save me. He is not able to forgive me; the blood of Christ cannot cleanse me; I am too black a sinner for God’s mercy to deal with.” That is a copy of what the Israelites said: “God cannot take us into Canaan; He cannot conquer the sons of Anak.” Though you may look upon unbelief as a slight sin, it is the sin of sins. I once preached in a certain city, and I was the guest of a gentleman who treated me with great kindness, but I noticed on the third occasion of my preaching that he suddenly left the room. One of my friends followed him out of the place and said to him, “Why have you left the service?” “Well,” said he, “I believe I should have been converted altogether if I had stopped any longer, for I felt such an influence coming over me. But it would not pay. You know what I am; it would not pay.” Many persons are of that kind. They are shaped for a while according to the earnest word they hear, but it is all in vain. The dog returns to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. This is to harden your heart and provoke the Lord.
The Greek construction of Harden with a negative particle ("me sklerunete") = forbids the continuance of an action already going on. The largely Hebrew readers of this epistle were already hardening their hearts just like there forefathers had done. The writer draws their attention to this tragic example which should have cut his readers to the quick. He reminds them of what happened to their ancestors who kept hardening their hearts...they died in the wilderness, most of them restless not only in this life but in the life to come!
Spurgeon commenting on Ps 95:8 writes "If ye will hear, learn to fear also. The sea and the land obey him, do not prove more obstinate than they! "Yield to his love who round you now/The bands of a man would east." We cannot soften our hearts, but we can harden them, and the consequences will be fatal. Today is too good a day to be profaned by the hardening of our hearts against our own mercies. While mercy reigns let not obduracy rebel. "As in the provocations, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness" (or, "like Meribah, like the day of Massah in the wilderness"). Be not wilfully, wantonly, repeatedly, obstinately rebellious. Let the example of that unhappy generation serve as a beacon to you; do not repeat the offences which have already more than enough provoked the Lord. God remembers men's sins, and the more memorably so when they are committed by a favoured people, against frequent warnings, in defiance of terrible judgments, and in the midst of superlative mercies; such sins write their record in marble. Reader, this verse is for you, for you even if you can say, "He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture." Do not seek to turn aside the edge of the warning; thou hast good need of it, give good heed to it.
An old man, one day taking a child on his knee, entreated him to seek God now -- to pray to him, and to love him; when the child, looking up at him, asked, "But why do not you seek God?" The old man, deeply affected, answered, "I would, child; but my heart is hard -- my heart is hard." -- Arvine's Anecdotes.
Heart (2588)(kardia [word study]) in the NT does not refer to the physical organ that pumps blood but always refers (figuratively) to the seat and center of human life. The heart is the center of one's personality, and as such it controls one's intellect, emotions, and will. If one has a believing heart, such a heart is the wellspring of this person's spiritual life. You do what you do because you believe what you believe in your heart. As Jesus taught "the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart" (Mt 12:34). What fills your heart as you read these notes? You can know by what has come out of your mouth over the past few days. Remember that "the good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good (agathos)" (Luke 6:45).
The heart is a key word in Hebrews 3-4 - Heb 3:8, 10, 12, 14 Heb 4:7, 12 - Six of the ten uses are in these two chapters! Why would this be the case? Other uses = Heb 8:10, 10:16, 10:22, 13:9.
Hardening one's heart suggests a cruel or unfeeling attitude. In Hebrew thought the heart was the center of the whole personality, including the intellect and will. Therefore “to harden one’s heart” is to refuse to listen to or understand what someone is saying. Do not be stubborn is often rendered idiomatically; for example, “do not stop up your ears,” or “do not shout ‘No’ to what is said,” or “do not close the door of your mind.”
Hardness of heart originates in unbelief leading to contempt for God and in turn to distinct behavioral patterns: negativism, grumbling, quarreling, disobedience, bitterness.
The one who tests God today does so for the same reason as did the Israelites in Moses day---to put Him off, because they love their sin, their own way, their own plans too much to give them up for God’s. (Rebellion is the heart issue & it is as the sin of divination 1Sa15:23!)
The grand and terrible lesson of Israel’s history is that it is possible to begin well and end poorly. In fact, this tragic human tendency dominates much human spiritual experience. It is this concern that haunts the writer of the book of Hebrews, as we have repeatedly seen.
Sidney J. Harris wrote that "Once we assuage our conscience by calling something a “necessary evil,” it begins to look more and more necessary and less and less evil.
How does one harden their heart? It's a process that occurs gradually as we complain about God's work and ignore His Word. The Israelites complained about the way He led them and the way He fed them. They heard God's Word and deliberately disobeyed. This is called testing God. When you see God at work and you complain instead of rejoice, when you hear His Word and deliberately disobey it--you're testing Him. It's like a little child just daring mom or dad to discipline him. When you harden your heart, you miss God's best for your life. The people of Israel saw the miracles. They heard the messages. They were fed day after day. But in a period of 40 years, that whole older generation died. What should we do to prevent a hard heart? Repent. Listen to God's Word and respond to it tenderly. Watch God's work and respond to it thankfully. Stop complaining and disobeying. Worship the Lord and keep a tender heart before Him. As an aside when we take God and His provisions for granted, we become less thankful and less responsive to Him. Heed the warning: Keep your heart open to God's Word and obey Him.
William Gouge (quoted by Spurgeon) has this note...
AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS: hôs ên tôi parapikrasmôi ten hemeran tou peirasmou en te eremo: (Numbers 14:11,22,23; Deuteronomy 9:22, 23, 24; Ps 78:56) (Exodus 17:7; Deuteronomy 6:16; Ps 78:18; 106:14; 1Corinthians 10:9)
Spurgeon - All the histories of Scripture are written for our examples (1Cor 10:6,11, Ro 15:4), but especially the story of the Israelites in the wilderness. It is given to us at a length far exceeding the value of the narrative, except it be intended for purposes of spiritual instruction, for it occupies four books of the Old Testament, and those by no means short ones. These things were written that we might see ourselves in the Israelites as in a mirror, and so might be warned of dangers common to us and to them, and be guided to a worthier use of the privileges we enjoy.
Provoked (parapikrasmos) is used only in the LXX, in the present verse and in verse 15. Parapikrasmos means embitterment, exasperation. This word is a translation of the Hebrew "Meribah" (Nu 20:13, 24; 27:14; Ps 81:7) which means conflict, contention, strife or rebellion or quarrel. For the simple verb pikraino , to make bitter, see Col 3:19
The reference in this verse is to Massah and Meribah in (Exodus 17:7) - "And he named the place Massah (Lxx substitutes peirasmos) and Meribah (Lxx substitutes loidoresis = railing, abuse, reproach) because of the quarrel (Hebrew = riybah = strife, a controversy, a contention. The primary idea = that of a quarrel or dispute) of the sons of Israel, and because they tested (Hebrew = nasah = Testing which shows what someone is really like!; ) the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us, or not?"
Trial - Literally "the trial" where "the" (definite article) identifies this trial as a very specific event, the episode in Exodus 17.
Trial (peirasmos) means simply to test or prove, and has no negative connotation (Click study of peirasmos). Whether it becomes a proof of righteousness or an inducement to evil depends on our response. God tested them & they in turn "tested" Him. Instead of trusting God in the midst of adverse circumstances, they demanded that He show His hand in order to demonstrate to them that He was in their midst to help them.
Wuest - The writer recalls to them the provocation Israel caused God by its hardness of heart on account of the lack of water at Rephidim, when the people murmured against Moses (Ex. 17:1–7). The word “temptation” (peirasmos) is preceded here by the definite article, pointing to a particular temptation. The Greek word means in its primary usage, “to put to the test.” Israel put God to the test by asking, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” Instead of trusting God in the midst of adverse circumstances, they demanded that He show His hand in order to demonstrate to them that He was in their midst to help them.
Greek: hou epeirasan (3PAAI) oi pateres humon en dokimasia kai eidon (3PAAI) ta erga mou
Amplified: Where your fathers tried [My patience] and tested [My forbearance] and found I stood their test, and they saw My works for forty years. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: (Westminster Press)
NLT: That is why the Holy Spirit says, "Today you must listen to his voice.There your ancestors tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: do not harden your hearts in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested me, proved me, and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said they always go astray in their heart, and (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: when your fathers put me on trial when they put me to the test for the purpose of approving me should I meet the test, and saw my works forty years. (Eerdmans)
WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED ME BY TESTING: hou epeirasan hoi pateres humon epeirasan (3PAAI) en dokimasiâi:
Where - Where? Answer = "the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water" (Dt 8:15)
This quote would certainly seem to support he is speaking most directly to ethnic Jews who should be very familiar with these passages. -
Tried (3985)(peirazo from the noun peira = test from peíro = perforate, pierce through to test durability of things) is a morally neutral word simply meaning “to test”. Whether the test is for a good (as it proved to be in Heb 11:17-note) or evil (Mt 4:1 "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil") depends on the intent of the one giving the test and also on the response of the one tested.
Testing (1381)(dokimazo from dokimos = tested, proved or approved, tried as metals by fire and thus purified from dechomai = to accept, receive) means to assay, to test, to prove, to put to the test, to make a trial of, to verify, to discern to approve. Dokimazo involves not only testing but determining the genuineness or value of an event or object. That which has been tested is demonstrated to be genuine and trustworthy.
They “put Me to the test to see what evil or good there is in Me when they put Me to the test for the purpose of approving Me should I meet the test.” What crass, blatant, presumptuous (stupid) unbelief!
What an insult this flings into the face of an all-loving, all-powerful God. The first-century readers of this letter are warned not to take this attitude toward God...to do so would be to end up missing His rest.
Proving a thing worthy or not, genuine or not. They were not content with God's promise, and miracles but demanded more proof of God.
John MacArthur makes the point that "Most people do not need more proof that God is real or that Jesus is His Son and the Savior. They need to hate and repent of their sin and to commit themselves to Him. A God who is continually tested will never be accepted. The one who tests God today does so for the same reason as did the Israelites in Moses day—to put Him off, because they love their sin, their own way, their own plans too much to give them up for God’s." (MacArthur, J. Hebrews. Chicago: Moody Press)
Wuest - The Greek words translated “tried” and “testing,” are peirazomai and dokimazo respectively. They are an interesting contrast. Peirazomai means “to put to the test to see what good or evil may be in a person.” Dokimazo means “to put to the test for the purpose of approving the person if he meets the test.” The Greek here is “put Me to the test to see what evil or good there is in Me when they put Me to the test for the purpose of approving Me should I meet the test.” What crass unbelief is shown in such a procedure. What an insult it flings into the face of an all-loving, all-powerful God. The first-century readers of this letter are warned not to take that attitude toward God. They were being bitterly persecuted because of their professed faith in Messiah and the New Testament. But they should trust God in the midst of it all and not harden their hearts against Him.
AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS: eidon (3PAAI) ta erga mou tesserakonta ete: (Exodus 19:4; 20:22; Deuteronomy 4:3,9; 11:7; 29:2; Joshua 23:3; 24:7; Luke 7:22) (Numbers 14:33; Deuteronomy 8:2,4; Joshua 5:6; Amos 2:10; Acts 7:36; 13:8)
They perceived and understood and even experienced God's works! Despite God’s miraculous works and His faithfulness to them, the people still failed to commit themselves to Him in faith
Spurgeon comments on saw My works - They tested him again and again, through out forty years, though each time his work was conclusive evidence of his faithfulness. Nothing could convince them for long.
"They saw his wonders wrought,
Fickleness is bound up in the heart of man, unbelief is our besetting sin; we must for ever be seeing, or we waver in our believing. This is no mean offence, and will bring with it no small punishment.
Moses reminds the Israelites that for forty years "the LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. (Exodus 13:21)
And they saw manna from heaven (Exodus 16:4-5) and water from a rock (Exodus 17:6)
Moses records God's words to Israel declaring that 'You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. (Exodus 19:4)
And shortly before his death "Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; 3 the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. 4 "Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. 5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandal has not worn out on your foot." (Deut 29:2-5)
It may be no coincidence that God gave Israel 40yrs to repent after Christ's crucifixion before sending the Roman army under Titus (AD70) to destroy Jerusalem.
John Owen (quoted by Spurgeon) comments on forty years noting that...