Better Covenant for us
In the 3rd chapter of Hebrews, we study the ministry of Moses under the Old Covenant and the ministry of Jesus under the New Covenant. Moses as a servant was verily faithful in all his house. But Christ “was counted worthy of more glory than Moses inasmuch as he who hath buildeth the house hath more honor than the house” (3:3). Christ was faithful “as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (3:6).
Under the New Covenant, we are the house of God built by God, Jesus being the Chief Corner Stone. We would remain as the House of God if we hold fast our faith till the end.
God wanted the people of Israel to enter the Promised Land (the land of Canaan). It was not His will that they should remain in the wilderness over a long period of 40 years, just with their seeing His works by way of miracles.
Evil heart of unbelief
They had “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (3:12). God was grieved with them because “they do always err in their heart: and they have not known My ways” (Vs.10). God swore in His wrath, “They shall not enter into My rest” (Vs.11). The land of Canaan was a place of rest for the people of Israel.
Sin of unbelief
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Vs.13). Unbelief is a sin. These days, the people of God do not take God at His Word. They have fallen into the trap of the Devil through unbelief. Jesus could not perform miracles during His earthly ministry on many occasions because of “unbelief” (Mark 16:14). Today also, the people of God harden their hearts through the deceitfulness of sin. The Devil makes the people of God doubt the promises of God so that they do not hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of their hope firm unto the end. Do you have “an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God”? If some miracle is not performed by God in the manner we want it, or if there is some delay in receiving some blessing from God, we fall into the temptation of departing from the living God. We do not hold Him firmly till the end. Half-way through, we leave Him and go our way. The Devil rejoices over this. Backsliding or departing from the living God takes us backward from the Promised Land.
Being partakers of Christ
We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end (Vs.14). Our confidence in Jesus should be unshaken and firm. It should be steadfast unto the end. We are made partakers of Christ in this very world. The people of this world would find Christ in us. These days, the people of God want to receive only some morsels of blessings from God through miracles like the people of Israel under the Old Covenant. Have you ever thought of being made partakers of Christ?
Remaining in the wilderness all the years
“Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses….. So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (16-19).
Similarly, not all the people of God redeemed by the precious Blood of Jesus enter the Promised Land. They want to remain in the spiritual wilderness being satisfied with the morsels of divine healing or some miracles. They do not know that there would be “showers of blessing” in the Promised Land (Eze.34:25-26). They are grieving the Holy Spirit by their unbelief. If they remain in the wilderness for a long period, they will also perish as the people of Israel did. The people of Israel had encountered a physical death in the wilderness because they grieved God by unbelief. Similarly, we also face a spiritual death in this wilderness if we do not enter the Promised Land.
Rest for the people of God
Let us now proceed to the chapter 4 of Hebrews. In this chapter, the Holy Spirit teaches us in detail of the rest for the people of God under the New Covenant. All the people of Israel could not enter the rest because of unbelief. This place of rest is none but the Promised Land. The gospel concerning the Promised Land was preached to the people of Israel also in the same manner as the gospel of Christ is preached to us today (4:2). But the word preached to the people of Israel did not profit them, “not being mixed with faith” (4:2). The gospel of Christ does not end with our acceptance of Jesus as our Savior and with our receiving some morsels of blessings from God. In many churches, they claim to preach the “full” gospel, whereas the word “full” is not mentioned as an affix to the word “gospel”. We find “the glorious gospel”, and not “full gospel”. It is the gospel taking us to the glorious land.
God did rest the seventh day from all His works (4:4). There was “another day” for the people of Israel under the Old Covenant (4:8). “For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day” (Vs.8). That was a day of rest in the Promised Land.
We have to rest in the perfect work of God’s redemption for us through the Blood of Jesus as God rested from His perfect work of creation. It is our faith in the finished work of salvation for us through Christ Jesus. Christ will not again go to the Cross for saving us from sin or for healing us. “There remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God” (Vs.9). In this place of rest, we have to depend upon God 100%, and to have fellowship with the members of the Body of Christ, the Church.
Ceasing from our own works
“For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (Vs.10).
Entering into rest does not mean physically resting from God’s ministry. Here, we have to do what God wants us exactly to do in His vineyard. We should not do more than or less than what He wants to do. If you are an evangelist, you should abide in your calling. If you are a prophet, you should abide in your calling. You cannot be both a prophet and a pastor of some local church. If you are an apostle, you cannot confine yourself to the pastoral functions of a local church. You should not be an all-rounder.
Here, you have to cease from your own works. Doing your own works means taking on your shoulder many responsibilities which are meant for the other members of His Body. It is a body ministry, each one of us performing our individual role as a team.
“Let us labor, therefore, to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Vs.11).