I. THERE IS A PROMISED REST FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD.
A. Jesus said, "Come unto Me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
1. Rest is a synonym for peace, tranquil, placid, unperturbed.
2. Think of all of the unrest in the world in which we live today.
a. Just look at the news this past week.
1. The bombing of our embassies in Africa.
2. That horrible stand off in Anaheim and the resultant fires that destroyed so many condo units.
3. Do you think that Clinton is resting with Monica Lewinsky testifying to the Grand Jury?
b. The unrest that we feel as we try to raise our children and our grandchildren when we know the pressures that are put upon them by this sinful, wicked world.
B. How our hearts long for rest.
1. We are tired of the fears, and uncertainty.
2. Tired of the conflicts and strife.
3. The prophet Isaiah said,
But the wicked [are] like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
[There is] no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
4. How the world longs for peace.
a. Man can never have peace when he is at war with God.
b. All of the turmoil in this world is a direct result of man's rebellion against the rule of God in his life.
C. Though God has promised rest, so many are in turmoil; how so?
1. In this chapter, the writer of the book of Hebrews twice quotes from psalm 95
, the warning of God to the people to not harden their hearts as in the day of provocation, when the people tempted God. 3:8,15.
Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
2. Both of these passages refer to the day of provocation.
3. The word provocation is a translation of the Hebrew word Meribah, and the word tempted is a translation of the Hebrew word Massah.
4. We read in Exodus,
And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Why have you brought us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?
And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do with these people? they are ready to stone me.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with you the elders of Israel; and your rod, with which you smote the sea, take it in your hand, and go.
Behold, I will stand before you there upon the rock in Horeb; and you shall smite the rock, and water shall come out of it, so the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, or tempted and provoked because of the provoking of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
Then the whole congregation, of the children of Israel came into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.
And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would to God that we would have died when our brothers died before the LORD!
And why have you brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die here?
And why did you make us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? this is no place to plant seeds, or grow figs, or or vines, or pomegranates; neither [is] there any water to drink.
And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth water, and you shall bring forth water for them out of the rock: so you shall give the congregation and their beasts drink.
And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he had instructed him.
And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts [also].
And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because you did not believe me, and sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
This [is] the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them.
6. This is the day of provocation, or Meribah, where the Lord declared to Moses and Aaron that they could not go into the promised land.
Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah.
7. Later Moses told the people of his prayer to God about this incident and said,
I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that [is] beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.
But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.
II. WHAT IS IT THAT CAUSED THE LORD TO BE GRIEVED WITH THEM? VERSE 10.
A. They always erred in their hearts.
1. Their hearts were always being drawn toward the fleshly things more than the things of the Spirit.
The children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: we have nothing but this manna.
2. They were always murmuring against the Lord, until God was fed up with their murmuring and said, they preferred the earthly fare to the heavenly fare.
Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me.
a. How God hates murmuring.
b. It was their murmuring that kept them from entering into the promised land, the place of God's rest.
B. The Lord said that they did not know His ways.
1. They did not seek to know the Lord's ways.
2. They were so headstrong in their own ways, they did not seek the way of the Lord.
C. They were guilty of sin. VERSE 17.
But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?
III. WHAT KEPT THEM FROM THE REST? THEIR UNBELIEF.
A. In Deuteronomy 1
, Moses was rehearsing for them their history, he said,
And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea.
And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God has given unto us.
Behold, the LORD your God has set the land before you: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has said unto you, fear not, neither be discouraged.
And you came near to me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.
And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one from each tribe:
And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.
And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought [it] down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, [It is] a good land which the LORD our God has given us.
Notwithstanding you would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:
And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
How can we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the giants there.
Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.
The LORD your God who goes before you, shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
And in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went, until you came into this place.
Yet in this thing you would not believe the LORD your God,
And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,
Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, With this background the writer of Hebrews warned,
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
For to whom did He sware that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
B. Unbelief can keep you from the promised blessing of God.
1. God had promised that they would possess the land that had been promised to their father Abraham, that they might dwell there.
2. But when they came to the border of the land they said, "We are not able to go up against the people for they are stronger than we."
3. They looked at the power of the enemy rather than the power of God, they saw the difficulties of taking the land, rather than the ability of God to deliver the land into their hands.
C. Peter said that unto us are given exceeding rich and precious promises that by these we might be made partakers of the divine nature. He said that God has given unto us all that is necessary for a life of Godliness.
D. God has promised us an abundant life in the Spirit, to go before us and conquer our enemies. Many today are still in the wilderness and have never entered into the promised land. Take care that you do not perish in the wilderness, and never know the full blessing of living in the Spirit.