“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience” ( Hebrews 4:11 )
It takes effort to enter into God’s rest, it takes faith. Resting in God’s grace comes moment by moment, resisting the urge to trust in ourselves. This is a process in which the foundation hinges on God’s character. Unless we lay a good foundation understanding who God is and His will concerning us we will never be able to build and surround ourselves in the rest that God desires for us to experience in Him.
We are warned not to follow the example from Israel’s past. The generation that came out of Egypt distrusted and provoked God. They were disobedient and unbelieving; therefore they never saw the promise of entering into Canaan fulfilled. The entire generation passed away in the desert. We are reminded to make every effort to enter into God’s rest so we will not follow in their example.
God’s main charge against the Israelites was they never understood or knew Him. They did not perceive nor recognize His way and become intimately acquainted with Him. “That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways’” ( Hebrews 3:10 ). They let their preconceived notions about God overrule His demonstration of goodness, love and mercy. Their hearts were dull and hard toward Him and the result was disobedience, not trusting in God choosing rather to complain about everything.
The good news for us is that we can take this example and learn from it. The Israelites were not able to enter into the promised rest because they were not familiar and intimately acquainted with God and His ways, but we can enter and remain by understanding and fellowshipping with God. We can experience rest simply by knowing Him and His promises.
Part of the reason Israel failed in this is because they thought God brought them into the desert to kill them. It is hard to trust and obey someone when you believe they are out to harm you. Unless we understand God’s love for us we will also fall prey to responding as the Israelites did, distrusting God. Instead, we must let the truth of scripture speak and minister to our hearts; bringing enlightenment of His true character and desires concerning us. We can learn to trust Him by knowing these things and progressing in our relationship with Him.
Jesus came to show us God’s true and complete nature ( Hebrews 1:1-2 ). Jesus is the picture of how great God’s love is toward us. He was sent to bring us into a deep and meaningful relationship with the Father. His grace and mercy is poured out on us covering and washing us clean, restoring us to a state as if we had never sinned. This is the foundation of rest. Starting here will soften our hearts opening them up to receive a revelation of God. We are to strive to enter this rest that was promised and by becoming intimately acquainted with Him and His promises we will continually dwell in this place. Unlike the Israelites who were increasingly hard of heart, we can be just the opposite becoming increasingly sensitive to the Lord’s direction for our lives.