See that you refuse not him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape…
I. THE SOLEMN POSSIBILITY OF REFUSAL. NOW, to gain the whole solemnity of this exhortation, it is very needful to remember that it is addressed to professing Christians, who have in so far exercised real faith as that, by it, they " are come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God." Then, again, it is to be noted that the refusal here spoken about, and against which we professing Christians are thus solemnly warned, is not necessarily entire intellectual rejection of the gospel and its message. For the Israelites, who made the original " refusal," to which that which we are warned against is paralleled, recognised the voice that they would not listen to as being God's voice; and just because it was His voice wanted to hear no more of it. Then, remember, too, that this refusal, which at bottom is the rising up of the creature's will, tastes, inclinations, desires against the manifest and recognised will of God, may, and as a matter of fact often does, go along with a great deal of lip reverence and unconsciously hypocritical worship. The unconscious refusal is the formidable and fatal one. Will God's voice be heard in a heart that is all echoing with earthly wishes, loudly claimant for their gratification, with sensual desires passionately demanding their food to be flung to them? Will God's voice be heard in a heart where the janglings of contending wishes and earthly inclinations are perpetually loud in their brawling? Will it be heard in a heart which has turned itself into a sounding-board for all the noises of the world and the voices of men? The voice of God is heard in silence, and not amidst the noises of our own hearts. And they who, unconsciously perhaps, of what they are doing, open their ears wide to hear what they themselves, in the lower parts of their souls, prescribe, or bow themselves in obedience to the precepts and maxims of men round them, are really refusing to hear the voice of God.
II. THE SLEEPLESS VIGILANCE NECESSARY TO COUNTERACT THE TENDENCY TO RERUSAL. "See that ye refuse not." A warning finger is, as it were, lifted. Take heed against the tendencies that lie in yourself and the temptations around you. The consciousness of the possibility of the danger is half the battle. If there is any need to dwell upon specific methods by which this vigilance and continual self-distrust may work out for us our seem try, one would say — by careful trying to reverse all these conditions which lead us surely to the refusal. Silencethe passions, the wishes, the voices of your own wills and tastes and inclinations and purposes. Bring them all into close touch with Him. Let there be no voice in your hearts till you know God's will; and then with a leap let your hearts be eager to do it. Keep yourselves out of the babble of the world's voices; and be accustomed to go by yourselves and let God speak. Do promptly, precisely, perfectly, all that you know He has said. That is the way to sharpen your ears for the more delicate intonations of His voice, and the closer manifestations of His will.
III. THE SOLEMN MOTIVES BY WHICH THIS SLEEPLESS VIGILANCE IS ENFORCED. "If they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth" — or, perhaps, "who on earth refused Him that spake" — "much more shall not we escape if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven." The clearness of the voice is the measure of the penalty of non-attention to it. The voice that spoke on earth had earthly penalties as the consequence of disobedience. The voice that speaks from heaven, by reason of its loftier majesty, and of the clearer utterances which are granted to us thereby, necessarily involves more severe and fatal issues from negligence to it. Mark how the words deepen and darken in their significance in the latter portion. The man that stops his ears will very soon turn his back and be in flight, so far as he can, from the voice. Do not tamper with God's utterances. If you do, you have begun a course that ends in alienation from Him. Then mark, again, the evils which fell upon these people who turned away from Him that speaketh on earth where their long wandering in the wilderness, and their exclusion from the Land of Promise, and final deaths in the desert, where their bleaching bones lay white in the sunshine. And if you and I, by continuous and increasing deafness to our Father's voice, have turned away from Him, then all that assemblage of flashing glories and majestic persons, and of reconciling blood to which we come by faith, will melt away, "and leave not a wrack behind." We shall be like men who in a dream have thought themselves in a king's palace, surrounded by beauty and treasures, and have awakened with a start and a shiver to find themselves alone in the desert.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: