Hebrews 3: 16-19
“For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (NKJV)
Last week was the call to allow Jesus to be our Faithful Leader. He has proven himself to be trustworthy, and we should willingly put our full trust in Him for now and our future. Our lives are full of choices, and I want to remind you as we venture into this lesson that there are two kinds of people on this planet: those that are saved and those that are not. The lost are in rebellion against God and His loving offer of salvation in Jesus. Even those who have ‘never heard the Gospel’ are in rebellion because the very creation shows that there is a God (Psalm 19:1). And if, upon understanding this, one desires to know God, there is a promise to all men that those who seek Him will find Him (Proverbs 8:17).
Most people simply don’t want to know God more and in a more intimate way. They normally call on God when there is trouble and blame Him if the trouble persists.
In the group that is saved, there are two sets of people in there as well: those that are in rebellion with God, in that they are saved but He is not the sole leader of their lives. Then there are those who have surrendered their very lives to Jesus and live in His rest. We will explore these two categories today. Now, if you are lost, you need to be saved, stop your rebellion, and trust Jesus. He will save you.
- Rebellion, verses 16-17
The dictionary offers a few definitions for rebellion, but the one that seems to fit for us today is this: the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention. Thus, when we resist God’s authority and control in our lives, we are in rebellion. Yes, saved people can live in rebellion against God and rob themselves of His blessing. Are you living this way?
The writer of Hebrews was using the Jews as they left Egypt as an example (see verse 16). From the time they left Egypt, the vast majority of them lived in rebellion. From constant complaints to blatant idolatry, the Jewish people were rebellious. They had no excuse; they actually saw God each and every day.
Exodus 13:20-22 “They set out from Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them in a pillar of cloud to guide their way by day, and in a pillar of fire to give them light by night, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place before the people.” (Berean Study Bible)
God was visible to them in the form of either a cloud by day or fire by night for the whole time that they were in the wilderness. He never left His place, according to verse 22 of the text above. But still, they complained and complained; they accused God of horrible things and called His character into question day after day. They kept wanting to go back to Egypt, back to slavery, back to killing their baby boys, and return to back-breaking hard work and back to poverty. The final straw came as they stood at the door to the Promised land and refused to enter.
Numbers 14:1-4 “So, all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’ 4 So they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.'” (NKJV)
They accused God of bringing them out of Egypt just to kill them, and they wanted to go back to Egypt. There was no Egypt to go back to; God had destroyed it, and while it existed, it would never be the same superpower again. They accused God of giving them the old ‘bait and switch’ – that He promised them life but now brought them to die. God hates rebellion, and they all died except Joshua, Caleb, and those under age 20. Everyone over 20 years old died in the wilderness and never got to see the Promised Land. Rebellion has its ‘rewards.’
- Rest, verses 18-19
The reward of obedience is Rest in Jesus. If you took the time to read the account of the Jews refusing to enter the Promised land, you will see that the spies made the same observations and commented on the same obstacles: the giants, the land, and the warriors there. But two of them were convinced that God was greater than the obstacles and that He had proven Himself worthy of their trust.
Numbers 14:6-9 “But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: ‘The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.'” (NKJV)
Trust God, depend on God, stop seeing the obstacles, and trust what God has for us. The Lord had shown beyond any reasonable doubts that He was good and faithful and that He wanted to bless them, not kill them. God was going to ‘give them the land flowing with milk and honey’ (verse 8). But rather than repent, verse 10 tells us they took up stones to kill Caleb and Joshua. Sad.
God’s rest does not mean that there are no obstacles, no opposition, no trials. Rather we see His hand and trust His goodness even in the hard times and troublesome times. God’s rest is not the absence of troubles; it is the realization of the Sovereignty of God, the power of God, and the confidence that God will never take us to a place where He is not standing right beside us and, more often than not, carrying us in our weakened state. We rest in God’s goodness and kindness to His people, and we see His hand day in and day out as we see more and more of His blessing.
Too many of us, His children, live in rebellion. We simply will not submit to His leadership, His Lordship, His kingship, and His plan for us. We choose rebellion and the unrest that comes with it. The anxiety that comes with it and the uncertainty makes our Christian walk harder than it needs to be. All too often, we pray for the Lord to remove the obstacles in our lives; sadly, the main obstacle is me. Lord, please help me to submit to your Leadership and Kingship in my life. Lord, forgive my rebellion.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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