7791 - Rest Not Possessed


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We continue our study in chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Hebrews.

Let’s investigate verses 6 through 8 in chapter 4. It says:

It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.

In this short passage the word “rest” is applied to three different generations of people, and their particular relations to the word “rest”.

Historically, the first generation spoken about here is that generation which we have studied before. It refers to that former generation of Israel, which had the promise from God of the land of Canaan as their land of heritage. God had told these people that he was giving them the land of Canaan. This meant that he would direct their efforts and energies to accomplish the possession of this land as their very own. God had promised it to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob many centuries in the past.

But this generation under Moses’ leadership; did not believe that God would fulfill his promise. Their unbelief caused them to disobey God and refuse to enter the Promised Land.

Because of the stubborn disobedience of this generation of men, the wrath of God pronounced the punishment that they would die in the desert during the following forty years.

This meant that this generation of Israel did not become possessors of the promised rest from God there in Canaan. They did not gain a homeland for their people. They did not gain the stability of a secure, stable society. They continued to live a nomadic life of stress and fear as they wandered in the desert. Often they were harassed or attacked by other peoples surrounding them. They did not seize or possess God’s promised rest.

After the death of Moses, God placed Joshua in leadership of the next generation. They were enabled to capture and secure a good portion of the land promised by God. The land was divided and passed to the tribes of Israel as their inheritance.

However, the writer of Hebrews makes the point in this passage that this generation also never gained possession of God’s rest. They did gain ownership of the land, but the peace and security of God’s rest did not become a part of their life. Even as the previous generation failed to gain rest, it also eluded the grasp of this generation.

The proof argument of the author is to point out that some 500 years later, during the life of a much later generation, during David’s kingship, God again communicated with Israel that if they would not harden their hearts, but instead would humble themselves under God’s authority and obey him, then “rest” could be their possession.

If they had gained God’s “rest” in previous generations then it would not have been necessary for God to once again offer his rest to them at this time.

The point is, that these Israelite generations did not accept God’s-rest into their inner being. No doubt, some did trust God through the coming Messiah, but as a nation of people they did not place their faith in God so as to receive “God’s-rest” into their hearts.

But other generations are covered here also. This passage clearly states that the offer of “God’s-rest” still remains open to accept, and there will be some who do receive peace and righteousness through their faith in Messiah/Christ who has come as Jesus. Those who do place their faith in Jesus will enter “God’s-rest” for eternity.

Every day is “Today” — a day to receive life and rest in Jesus. No man knows when God will close this offer.

If you have never opened your heart and received God’s gift of rest along with eternal life, do so now. Don’t wait any longer. Don’t be one who refuses to possess God’s-rest.