16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?
Verses 16-19 constitute an application of the principles set forth from 3:7. The author of Hebrews posed three serious questions that arise out of the lessons in this chapter:
—who provoked God when they were exposed to God’s Word?
—with whom was God displeased for 40 years?
—about whom did God take an oath that they would not enter His rest?
The “for” here explains the need to take what God has said seriously. Of the 600,000 people who fled Egypt, God allowed only two (Caleb and Joshua) to enter the Promised Land. We come now to the first of three warning questions.
who, having heard, rebelled?
The rebellion here occurred at Kadesh-barnea (Nu 14). In Numbers 12 God sent out 12 spies to determine the nature of the land and what kind of enemy they would face. All agreed that the land was good but 10 reported that the enemy was too powerful for them. They deemed they were like “grasshoppers” in the sight of the people of the land. Joshua and Caleb gave a confident report that God was able to empower them to conquer the land. However, Israel believed the negative report and decided to turn back to become pilgrims in the desert.
“Indeed” is a strong adversative. Most did not enter the Promised Land.
was it not all [the whole] who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?
The first question is answered by another question. Everyone who came out of Egypt rebelled against God’s Word. They did not believe God and would not claim His promises to them. Joshua and Caleb believed God and were willing to claim His promises.
Unanimity of unbelief does not make it right.
Because everyone else embraces an error does not make it right. Unanimity of unbelief is no excuse for believing it.
The Israelites who came out of Egypt did not hold on to their original beliefs. A good beginning is not enough.