For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,Hebrews 3:14(NASB)
Much of the book of Hebrews admonishes Christians to learn from Israel's mistakes. We are warned not to fall into the same attitude of rebellion and unbelief. Despite being redeemed from Egyptian slavery, Israel murmured against the Lord! They remained in the desert for 40 years and did not enter their promised rest because of unbelief and a hardening of their hearts towards the God of their salvation. The nation which had been redeemed from Egypt, spent the rest of their lives wandering aimlessly through a barren wilderness. How sad!
They had witnessed amazing miracles through the unrelenting plagues that God sent upon their slave-masters. They saw the Red Sea part, so that they crossed the sea on dry ground, and they were present when the voice of God trumpeted from the top of the smoking Mount Sinai. But instead of rejoicing in the God of their salvation and trusting His Word... they fell into murmurings, unbelief, and defiance of the Lord. Instead of living by faith with thanksgiving, they lived by unbelief with complaining. Instead of trusting God to keep His Word, they suffered the consequences of unbelief. They were redeemed from Egypt, but fell short of their promised rest. They were saved - but lived a barren life and did not fulfil God's purpose for their lives.
Israel's physical redemption from Pharaoh's slavery in Egypt, mirrors the Christians' spiritual redemption from slavery to sin in the kingdom of Satan. Israel was saved from Egypt because they believed God and carried out His instructions - so that by faith, the angel of death Passed-Over the believing Hebrews. But sadly they did not continue to live by faith after their redemption. Instead, they began to doubt the goodness, grace, and faithfulness of the God Who redeemed them. They started to murmur against God. They moved from salvation by grace through faith into living according to their own will and not adhering to God's perfect plan.
Christians likewise are spiritually redeemed from Satan's bondage when we believe God's Word. We are likewise saved through faith. We are redeemed from servitude to sin when we believe that Christ died for our sin, was buried, and rose again the third day, to pay the price for our sins. However, once we are saved, we are charged to live by faith. We are to walk by faith day by day - to trust God's Word and to rest in Christ.
God had purposed that Israel would exit Egypt and enter the Promised Land of rest within a few short weeks of their escape. But unbelief caused the entire generation to die in the wilderness without experiencing the promised rest in the land of Canaan.
As Christians, we too have a promised rest. However our rest is not in a land but in a PERSON - the Lord Jesus Christ. Our rest is not simply a future rest in our heavenly home after death. Our rest is a current rest - a present day rest, here on earth.
Jesus is the Christians' promised rest, and we gain that rest by believing. Christians are covered in His righteousness and as members of His Body, we have access to every spiritual blessing because we are in Christ - and one of those promises is God's promised REST.
Christ is our promised peace, and we gain that peace that will guard our hearts every day of our life if we rest in Him and trust what God has said in His Word. To fail to live by faith is the same spirit of unbelief that was seen in Israel - and it is this spirit of unbelief against which believers are warned in Hebrews.
Although the Israelites were saved from Egypt, they forfeited their rest through unbelief. Similarly, although Christians are saved by grace through faith in Christ, we can forfeit our spiritual rest during our journey through life. His grace is sufficient for every eventuality in life, but we have to appropriate what is already ours - we have to seize hold of what is already ours by faith.
Although we are eternally saved, we may live a defeated life if we do not hold fast to the assurance, if we do not walk by faith, if we allow fear to dominate our mind, if we fail to take hold of all that has been promised us - through Christ. We are to hold fast to our faith to our life's end, as we abide in Him, rest in Him, and trust Him in all things.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the truth of Your Word. Help me to take to heart the example of the Israelites who forfeited their rest through unbelief. Keep the eyes of my heart focused on Jesus Who is my promised rest, by grace through faith. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.