In part 1 of this lesson on entering into our faith-rest now, we saw from Hebrews chapter 3 that the reason why a whole generation of redeemed Israelites missed the rest that God had waiting for them in the promised land of Canaan was because of “an evil heart of unbelief.” (Hebs.3:12) It manifested itself in the promised land bound saints by a discounting of God’s might and miraculous works. (Ps.78:12-32) Further, they disregarded His Word. (Hebs. 4:2) That was evidenced in their hearts that were hardened (Hebs. 3:8), their hearts then erred from the truth, (Hebs. 3:10) and finally their hearts had become just plain unbelieving. (Hebs. 3:12) So, when one discounts the works of God and disregards the Words of God, that person has all the characteristics of an evil heart of unbelief.
We noted also the causes of the evil heart of unbelief. (Hebs.3:13) In a word, the cause of one’s heart being disaffected toward God is “the deceitfulness of sin.” (v.13) When one believes the lies of a Devil’s demon or of one’s own depraved nature, then that deceived person will suffer from an evil heart of unbelief.
Now, the consequences of such an error, and among the worst of the consequences is that such an one will fail to enter into the rest that God has provided for them. (Hebs.3:19) This should not be confused with the “rest from” our labors of life awaiting those who will eventually be received into heaven to spend eternity with the triune Godhead and all who have believed in Jesus Christ (Rev. 14:13); but the “rest” that Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 speaks of is the rest that all adults 20 years of age and over when they left Egyptian bondage missed because of the evil heart of unbelief that they were smitten by in their desert wanderings causing them to miss the victories that awaited them in the promised land. As Paul carefully noted in I Cor.10, these were redeemed people: all were “under the cloud”—led by God’s presence; all passed through the sea—delivered by God’s power; all were “baptized unto Moses” in the cloud and in the sea—having identified with His message and mission; all did eat the same spiritual manna—i.e., the Word of God; and all did drink of the Rock—Christ Jesus. So, many were saved, Paul reasons, but many did not enter into rest, i.e., the promised land of conquest and victory. They in mass committed what we know as the sin unto death. (I John 5:16; I Cor. 11:29,30) Paul further depicts their sin as lust, idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ and murmuring. (I Cor. 10:6-10)
We are encouraged, though, to learn that there is a cure for an evil heart of unbelief. That cure starts with appropriating the victory (Roman 7:24) that God has already provided and promised us through faith. (Hebs. 4:2) We can realize this victory as we appropriate the Word of God. (Hebs. 4:12) and the intercessory work of Jesus on our behalf before the very throne of God. (Hebs. 4:14,15) Finally, we can enter into rest NOW by appropriating the power that is available to us through prayer. (Hebs. 4:16)
It’s a matter of the heart. “You need not seek rest in the mountains or by the sea if you do not have it in your heart,” someone has said. We can enjoy rest now. “Today,” was the emphasis of the warning raised in Hebrews. “Today, if you will hear His voice, Harden not your hearts as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.” (v. 7) “But exhort one another daily while it is called Today,” and “While it is said, To day, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts….” (vss. 13,15)
A few concluding thoughts. We should fear lest any of us should seem to come short of entering into this rest. (Hebs. 4:1) We should know that God does want us to “rest,” (v.9) and that the key to entering into this faith-rest is “believing,” and “ceasing from our own works.” (4:3,10)
So, right here and now, if you are a believer and have not allowed an evil heart of unbelief to grip you, you can and should be enjoying the rest God wants you to enjoy. It is a rest of faith. It has abandoned trying to please God by self-efforts. It is a rest of victory, victory that overcomes the world. (I John 5:4) It is the rest of walking by faith and not by sight, free of worry and full of trust. It is not the eternal rest after time that God wants you to have now but it is the rest of a victorious Christian life.
The alternative is a life of works that are fruitless because they are flesh driven not faith-based. Entering into this rest will change the course of your life. The requirements: salvation by grace through faith; surrender by faith through grace, appropriating His Word, His Work and His Wonders through prayer.
“There is a place of quiet rest, Near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest, Near to the heart of God. O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God. Hold us who wait before Thee, Near to the heart of God.” Cleveland McAfee, 1908 (Written after two of his nieces died of diphtheria.)