Hebrews 3:7-19: Finding Rest

Read: Hebrews 3:7-19

The author of Hebrews gives another resounding warning, this time about the perils of unbelief. To illustrate this, the author of Hebrews gives a lesson from history. He quotes from Psalms 95:7-11 to summarize what happened in the desert at Meribah and Massah, where Israel tested God (Exodus 17). While they were in the wilderness, Israel had no water to drink. They complained to Moses about it, contending that they Moses had brought them into the wilderness to die. The Lord answered them giving them water, but nevertheless the place was named because the people were contentious with Moses and God. The Psalm uses this as a platform to make a general statement about that “generation”. They wondered in the wilderness for 40 years and God “loathed” them until they had passed away a new generation under Joshua came to claim the Promised Land. Because the old generation had unbelief, they did not enter the Promised Land, which was God’s “rest” for them (Numbers 14:20-24). Rather than enter the “rest” of God from the hardship in the wilderness, they had to endure forty more years of hardship because of their unbelief.

Notice, however, that the warning that he is giving is addressed to “brethren”. In the context, the “brethren” here refer to those who are part of the family of God because of Jesus, notably the “holy brethren” from Hebrews 3:1 who are made such by Jesus, as explained in Hebrews 2:11. The warning here concerning unbelief is given to those who already believe. The issue he is addressing is not about those who have not come to salvation at this point, rather unbelief – and by implication, disobedience and sin – among the brethren. The question here is not a matter of salvation, rather a matter of disobedience.

In the Christian life, hardship is inevitable. Jesus said that those who bear his name will possibly suffer for it. And even more so, there are plenty of other things in life that bring hardship. The “rest”, however, for Christians is found in trusting God. For those who don’t trust God, there can only be even more hardship as a consequence for disobedience and sin. For those that do trust God, one hope and comfort in the “rest” that God offers to those who are obedient. The choice, then, is pretty evident: “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12) so that Christians will find rest.

Lord, help me to find rest in you!