I have been thinking of the words of God to the children of Israel, when they had again and again, not believed in the Lord’s ability and faithfulness. He had delivered them from Egypt and cared for them in the wilderness, through amazing miracles, and brought them all the way to the threshold of the land that He had promised to them. Joshua and Caleb and a number of other representatives of Israel were sent to spy out the land. Many of the spies came back and told the Israelites that it was a fearful place, and that there were many enemies, including giants, in the land, causing the Israelites to fear. Actually, all of the spies, except for Joshua and Caleb. Joshua and Caleb brought back a good report and said that it was a marvelous land, flowing with milk and honey.
The people believed the other spies, the men who brought back a big old bucket of fear, because their focus and attention was on the enemies in the land. So, the terrified Israelites got angry with Moses and said that they wished that God had left them in Egypt. Can you imagine? All the miracles that God had done to get them to where they were, and now, they are faced with some enemies in a land that is destined for them, and they immediately want to give up, turn back, go back into bondage, forfeit the beautiful plan and place God has for them.
So, they did not enter in. At that point, they had sinned against God ten times on the way, and their sin was the sin of unbelief. Unbelief. So, God declared that anyone over the age of 20, would not enter into the promised land, except for Caleb and Joshua. Caleb and Joshua DID believe and they trusted God to give them the land, even in the face of the enemies and Giants that they would need to overcome.
Now we go to Psalm 95.
7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
To day if ye will hear his voice,
8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.
The writer of the Psalm, rather than saying “should not enter into the promised land” says, “they should not enter into my rest.” The promised land was a reflection of the true REST of God. God’s rest is a beautiful place, filled with the goodness and bounty of God’s Spirit. In that place, we are fed with the milk and honey of God’s truth, His faithfulness, His love and mercy. Such a glorious place to live! But all of this comes from one thing: Believing . We dwell in God’s rest because we believe that He is able to take care of those giants in our lives, those enemies, the sorrow, illness, addiction, bitterness. All of those mountains which, on our own, are insurmountable, but in God, we are more than capable of overcoming them. They are conquered by the Spirit of God that dwells within us. That same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.
Those who do not enter into God’s rest, do not enter because of unbelief. They don’t believe the enemies…… the problems…. the attitudes….the sorrow…..the (fill in the blank), …. can be conquered.
I have at times said, I hope I will enter into His rest once I am past all of those things that trouble me. Once I have peace in my life, once my problems are gone, once my sorrow has lifted, then…. Then, hopefully, I will enter in. But that’s not how it works. It is in the face of those very things that we need to boldly enter in. The writer of Hebrews says in chapter 4:
“11 Let us strive therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
Belief is what young David had when he went up to fight Goliath. He didn’t believe in his own strength. He didn’t believe in his own ability. He believed in the ability of God. Even as a young shepherd, he had already experienced God’s faithfulness. All of the men who were quaking in their boots, afraid to face Goliath, asked him how he thought he could go up against this champion of the enemy. David put it very simply:
(17th chpt of 1st Samuel) “David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. 37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.”
David believed. His confidence was in God alone. He dwelt in the promised land of God’s rest.
I look back through my life and think of the giants that I faced….. the ones I lost sleep over, the ones that brought tears that I thought would never stop, the situations I never thought I would make it through, or past. My doubt did not change God. God was not “waiting” for me to believe before He would show His mercy, dry my tears, lift me out, bring me through. He is faithful whether we believe or not. God is faithful. Period. The difference between us believing or not believing is in us. We can rest. His rest is always there because His faithfulness is always there. Nothing keeps us out of His promised land of rest, except our unbelief.
I want to dwell in God’s rest. I want to strive to enter in. And when I have trouble believing, I want to go before Him and ask Him to help me believe. He is even faithful to do that.
His love has no limits, no end. It is deeper than any ocean and higher than the stars in the sky. He loves to help us, to keep us, to make us into all that we will be in Him. We never need be afraid to go to Him.
It’s not about how good we are. It’s only about how good God is.
Let’s enter in. Let’s boldly enter in, praising our beloved Savior, Jesus, Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of God. He brought in God’s glorious new covenant, and invites us, without condition, to enter boldly and dwell with Him now and forever.
Jeremiah 31 31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. 35 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name.
I love you all.