Have you entered God’s rest?
The writer of Hebrews continues to explain the ‘rest’ of God – “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years.’ Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’” (Hebrews 3: 7-15)
The above underlined verses are quoted from Psalm 95. These verses are referring to what happened to the Israelites after God led them out of Egypt. They should have entered the Promised Land two years after they left Egypt, but in unbelief they rebelled against God. Because of their unbelief, they wandered in the wilderness until the generation that had been led out of Egypt died off. Their children then went into the Promised Land.
The unbelieving Israelites focused on their inabilities, rather than on God’s abilities. It has been said that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God will not keep us.
This is what God said in Psalm 81 about what He did for the children of Israel – “I removed his shoulder from the burden; his hands were freed from the baskets. You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me! There shall be no foreign god among you; nor shall you worship any foreign god. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels. Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!” (Psalm 81: 6-13)
The writer of Hebrews wrote this letter to Jewish believers who were tempted to fall back into the legalism of Judaism. They did not realize that Jesus had fulfilled the law of Moses. They struggled to understand they were now under a new covenant of grace, rather than the old covenant of works. The ‘new and living’ way of trusting in Christ’s merits alone was strange to those who had been living for years under the many rules and regulations of Judaism.
“For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…” How do we become ‘partakers’ of Christ?
We ‘partake’ of Christ through faith in what He has done. Romans teaches us – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5: 1-2)
God wants us to enter His rest. We can only do so by faith in the merits of Christ, not through any merits of our own.
It seems counterintuitive that God would love us so much to do all that is necessary for us to live with Him for eternity, but He did. He wants us to trust in what He has done and accept through faith this amazing gift!