The book of Hebrews in our Bible paints a clear picture of how Israel’s inability to enter the promised land due to a lack of faith is an example for us to learn from today.
“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).
This is Israel’s story. They could not enter God’s rest because of unbelief. And the rest they failed to enter is a picture of God’s rest offered to us today; the simple rest of walking in God’s Spirit by faith. This thought is taken up in the next verse.
“Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed, we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united with faith in those who heard. But we who have believed enter that rest” (Heb 4:1-3).
Notice the emphasis on faith for entering God’s rest. The promise of entering the promised land did not profit Israel because the promise was not accompanied by faith on the part of the hearers; was not “united with faith” as the Scripture says. Israel’s lack of faith made the promise essentially useless. Likewise, faith is the key for us to enter God’s rest today. “But we who have believed, enter that rest” (Heb 4:3).
There is a beautiful rest promised to believers today. Jesus described it in the gospel of Matthew. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my load is light” (Matt 11:28-30).
This offer of rest for our souls is resting in God’s grace. It is resting in Christ doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. It is resting in Christ living the life we could not live. Both His sinless life on earth that set the stage for His death in our place that took away the penalty of our sins, and the life He lives inside us now that defeats the power of sin in us.
To emphasize, the sinless life that Christ lived on this earth was a life we could not live. Likewise, the Christian life that we have been called to live today is a life we cannot live… on our own! We need the Spirit’s power. We need Christ living His resurrection life through us. We need Jesus to live the life. And His promise is that He is here and ready and willing and able with what is needed for you to enter His rest; to enter the place where Christ is living His life through you.
Hebrews chapter 4 continues, “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience” (Heb 4:9-11).
When we enter God’s rest, what works are we resting from? We will take up that thought next time.