A Rest for the People of God

Hebrews 3:7–19

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

  1. The back story for this passage, and indeed much of Hebrews, is found in Numbers 14:1–35. The forty year (or one generation) wandering in the wilderness following the miraculous exodus from bondage in Egypt is in the mind of Hebrew’s author.
  2. Despite the deliverance, the people now free longed for the comparatively easy life under pharaoh. Seemingly at every turn, the complaints directed at  Moses were heard by their Deliverer. The people were hardening their hearts.
  3. The author applies this to Jewish Christians in the second generation of the Church, around 80 to 95 CE. He or she urges them not to “harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness.”
  4. As a result, these wanderers never entered into the Promised Land, Canaan, but the second generation did so under the leadership of Joshua. Moses, the giver of the Law could not bring them in, but Joshua (Jesus is the same name) did. We see here once again the story of salvation embedded into the history of Israel.
  5. We must ask, is it possible that some in that early Christian fellowship were unconverted? This is always a possibility, even a probability. And this is why it is vital that each Christian make an examination into their spiritual condition.
  6. But then, a second issue, can a truly converted, born again person, be caught up in sinful rebellion. Indeed, who among us have not faced such temptation, even failure.
  7. The writer of Hebrews implores: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” Here is a call to fearless confession of sin and a humbling of ourselves before a holy God.
  8. It is the will of God that we enter into His rest, that is, ceasing to attempt to save ourselves, but relying only upon the finished work of Jesus.
  9. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

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