“As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief” ( Hebrews 3:15-19 )
Unbelief shut the Israelites out of the promise land. They saw the mighty works of God for many years in the desert and chose disobedience instead of trusting the one who provided for them. Because of their hardness of heart they were unwilling to rely on God and follow in the plan he had for them. The result was doing it their own way, causing them to wander through the wilderness for forty years. During that time they provoked and blatantly disobeyed God. The result was not entering into the land He promised their forefathers. This was His plan and desire for them but their unwillingness to believe kept them out.
This example from Israel’s past is good for us to pay close attention to. The same offer of entering into God’s rest is available for us today ( Hebrews 4:1 ). The writer of Hebrews says if we hear God’s voice don’t be like the Israelites, hard and insensitive. This comes from many years of choosing to ignore this voice inside until it is but a faint echo of what was. We become complacent to the things of God refusing to obey, the result is destruction, because in essence, we walk away from God and the plan He has for us. We will never enter into His rest this way; unbelief will shut us out as well.
However, the point is not to let hardness of heart run rampant in your life. The Holy Spirit starts speaking and drawing mankind unto himself from an early age ( John 6:44 ). The Spirit starts speaking the truth of God’s love and His desire for relationship to everyone. Some choose to respond to the message; some choose to ignore it, resulting in the fate of the Israelites, hard and insensitive to God. If unbelief can shut us out of God’s promise of eternal life, then choosing to belief, rely and trust in God brings us unto this rest. What we trust in is Jesus; He is the rest that God promised. “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith” ( Hebrews 4:1-2 ).
This is why the writer of Hebrews reminds us time and again in chapter three to pay attention to the message of Jesus and to keep our hearts sensitive to the Holy Spirit; he does not want us to miss the rest that God promised to the Israelites and to us as well. He does not want unbelief to shut us out as it shut them out. He wants us to enter into this rest by solely relying on Jesus and His amazing message of grace and love.
Tomorrow we will look at Hebrews 4:1-2; The Promise of Entering His Rest