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No rest for those who remain in their unbelief

…where your ancestors tested me, tried me,

and saw my works for forty years.

Therefore I was provoked to anger with that generation

and said, “They always go astray in their hearts,

and they have not known my ways.”

So I swore in my anger,

“They will not enter my rest.”. Hebrews 3:10-11 CSB


From yesterday, we observed what happened to the Israelites at Meribah and Massah, in which the Lord proved to them who He was and how He could care for them. Yet, as we see from the rest of the reference from Psalm 95:10-11, “For forty years I was disgusted with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray; they do not know my ways.” So, I swore in my anger, “They will not enter my rest.” The Israelites constantly rebelled against God, which led to a whole generation not being able to see the Promised Land. Instead, they were forced to wander the desert for forty years until the generation died out. Here, we see a very interesting part of God’s character, His anger. Yet, His anger is different from human anger. We get upset when people cut us off on the road or switch lanes without signaling. But God’s anger is always justified, always in opposition to sin, which leads Him to pursue justice or mercy. So, what led to God’s divine anger? The Israelites habitual sin, constantly going “astray in their hearts,” and they did not truly know God’s way, meaning that they did not truly pursue His will and have a relationship with Him. Their unbelief and continued rebellion prevented them to have a relationship with God. Despite their lack of faith, God continued to pursue them and provided them reasons to trust and place their faith in Him. God showed his mighty acts: a pillar of fire by night to shield them from the desert cold, a cloud by day to protect them from the sun’s burning rays, manna to satisfy their hunger, and water out of the rock to quench their thirst; moreover, their clothes and shoes did not wear out (see Exodus 13:21; 16:4–5; 17:6; Deuteronomy 29:5). The Lord God of Israel was their rock and shield for forty years. Despite all these, they prefer to go on their own way and not yield their lives to God. “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways” (Hebrews 3:10b). With action comes consequences, and the consequence of this generation’s sin was not experiencing the Promise Land, God’s “rest.” So, why is this passage then inserted here? From the famous quote of George Santayana in 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This history is listed as a warning to the readers of Hebrews, and presently, for us. If we wander away from God and follow the path of sin as the Israelites had done in the past, we will face God’s divine anger, facing perfect justice. Therefore, we must turn away from foolish disobedience before it is too late.


Blessings,

Isaac De Guzman

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