Last time we posed the question “How do we enter the believer’s rest?” How do we go from wilderness Christian to God’s promised land experience in the here-and-now? The author of the book of Hebrews gives us some insight.
Starting first with the Old Testament example of those who refused God’s promised rest. “Today if you hear My voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with this generation and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways;’ and I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest’ ” (Heb 3:7-11).
With this picture of the children of Israel missing God’s rest firmly in view, the author now brings us into the story in the next verse. “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God” (Heb 3:12). This is not falling away from salvation, but falling away from the promised rest of God due to an unbelieving heart.
The author continues in this chapter with a more specific point about what kept the children of Israel out of the promised land. “For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief” (Heb 3:16-19).
What was the sin (vs 17) that kept the children of Israel out of the promised land? It was the sin of unbelief (vs 19). What keeps us from experiencing the believer’s rest? It is the sin of unbelief (vs 12). They are one and the same. The key to experiencing the promised land rest of God in the here-and-now for New Testament believers is faith. It is not some super acts of spirituality. It is an act of faith.
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience” (Heb 4:11). Do not follow Israel’s example. Their “disobedience” was their unbelief and their lack of faith cost them the promised land experience. Don’t let unbelief, a lack of faith, keep you from experiencing the precious rest of God this very day.
Again, unbelief here does not refer to salvation. Your salvation is secure. Unbelief refers to not believing the new covenant promises of God. Not believing that your old sin nature died at the cross with Christ. Not believing you have a new heart with God’s law written upon it. Unbelief is not believing the Holy Spirit lives inside you and is influencing and forming your spiritual walk. If unbelief in these promises describes your experience, repent, turn around, leave your wilderness living and enter His rest. It is available to you right now. Won’t you enter in? Let’s believe all that He says to us!