7788 - Unbelief

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With this program we complete our study of the third chapter of Hebrews. Listen to Hebrews 3, verses 17 through 19:

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.

This study continues discussion about the Israelite men who came out of slavery in Egypt under the leadership of Moses.

In the third month after the Israelites had left Egypt, God gave this message to Moses to pass on to the people.

(Exod. 19:4-6) `You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole world is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation...'

God’s relationship with these people extended back through history to the man called Abram, who was later named Abraham. God had promised Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. This had been reaffirmed to his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob.

This passage of Scripture refers to the time many centuries after the promise to Abraham was made. Here are the Israelites, Abraham’s descendants, poised, as it seemed, on the brink of entering the land promised to Abraham. God was giving this land to them because the people who lived there were wicked and abhorred by the Lord (Deut. 9:5).

Now this congregation of Israel moaned and rebelled there in the Desert of Paran. And God had told them that not one of those who rebelled would enter God’s promised rest in Canaan.

All those men, age twenty and above, except the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb, are the ones to whom reference is made in this passage.

More than 603,000 were listed by name in the census, which was taken under the leadership of Moses and Aaron in the Desert of Sinai as they left Egypt.

Let’s focus upon God’s view of these people and their attitude, there in the Desert of Paran on the brink of Canaan. We notice in the Hebrew’s passage that the Lord was angry with these men for forty years. That’s a very unusual revelation about God. We usually see his love and gentleness toward people.

But it is true that this community had provoked God and tested him ten different times during the couple of years since they had come out of Egypt (Num. 14:22).

These words are found in Numbers and Deuteronomy describing their attitude.

• The people grumbled against Moses and Aaron. (Ex. 16:2)

• They grumbled against the Lord. (Ex. 16:8)

• This people is a stiff-necked people indeed. (Deut. 9:13)

• You have not trusted or obeyed the Lord. (Deut. 9:23)

• You have been rebellious against the Lord ever since I have know you. (Deut. 9:24)

Perhaps we can understand why they were under God’s judgment.

God did not strike all these men dead in an instant. The ten men who gave the bad report about the land were stricken with a plague and died. The congregation of Israel turned south and left the proximity of Canaan.

Notice the reason for their failure to possess their Canaan rest. Disobedience and unbelief are linked together to account for their missing out on God’s blessing.

This must have been a grim time among the Israelites. The important consideration in this passage for each of us who are here today is: “Does our daily walk give testimony to faith and obedience?” Those two qualities permit the indwelling Christ to live with power to accomplish his purpose in and through each Christian.