I think in some ways, Hebrews is the most unusual and “mysterious” book in the New Testament (along with Revelation), and it is one of my favorites. As I was reading it recently, three explicit warnings given in the first few chapters stood out to me, and as I thought about and looked into them further, I found some really cool stuff. I was also reminded that while it might be more pleasant to focus only on the promises and the positives, if we believe those, we should equally believe the warnings that came from the same source. (All scripture quotations from the WEB ® translation).
(Hebrews 2:1): “Therefore we ought to pay greater attention to the things that were heard, lest perhaps we drift away.”
(Hebrews 3:12-13): “Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God; but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called “today;” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
(Hebrews 4:1-2): “Let us fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did, but the word they heard didn’t profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith by those who heard.”
Condensing and summarizing these warnings helps clarify them:
(2:1) Our Call: Pay closer attention to God’s word; first and foremost as given through Christ himself, but also as given through His apostles and prophets. What is Being Avoided: Drifting away from God’s heart and Kingdom, into religious deception or spiritual apathy.
(3:12-13) Our call: Be aware that an evil heart of unbelief (spiritual blindness) can take root, exhort each-other. What is being avoided: An evil heart of unbelief (a spiritually blind, deceived heart), falling away from the living God (walking in old religion instead of fresh revelation), being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (having a heart and mind which is callous and impenetrable to the truth, being covered by layers of convincing deception).
(4:1-2) Our call: To fear, to ensure faith (gift of true spiritual perception) is “mixed” with what we hear from God. What is being avoided: Coming short of and failing to enter God’s promised rest.