God’s Promise of Rest

KEY VERSE: “We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” —Hebrews 3:14


TO EMPHASIZE the point of this text, Paul reminds us of the sad plight of the Israelites in their wilderness journey, who lost the beginning of their confidence in God, and, as a result, were unable to enter into his rest—their carcasses falling in the wilderness for forty long years.

At the beginning, the Israelites were started out for the Promised Land, ready to accept the deliverance which God was offering to them. Accordingly, they met at Ramses, and from there they journeyed to Succoth. The name Succoth means ‘booths’, and is a good reminder of the fact that their journey toward Canaan, while giving to them liberty and freedom from servitude in Egypt, was, on the other hand, a call to them for the self-denial of many of the conveniences and necessities which their homes in Egypt undoubtedly supplied.

As spiritual Israelites, traveling on in the narrow way, we do not look to material sources for our protection, but to what we might call the ‘little booth’ over which God watches. And we have the assurance that he neither slumbers nor sleeps. His precious promises of grace and protection for every time of need furnish a blessed canopy between us and the storms and fiery trials which otherwise would overwhelm us.

The typical Israelites traveled on under the canopy of heaven, which, to us in our experiences, might well remind us of the boundlessness of God’s grace with which we are surrounded and under which we have our protection and blessing. This grace must not be hindered or handicapped. No earth-born cloud should be permitted to come between us and our God.

There are times when, in the providences of God, we can do nothing to extricate ourselves from a difficult situation. At such times, we must put our trust wholly in God, realizing that he is the one who is able to bring us through.

God had started to lead them in a direction more northward, toward Etham, where crossing out of Egypt would seem relatively easy. Suddenly they were directed to turn southward. This course seems to have been inconsistent, for instead of increasing the distance between themselves and the domain of Pharaoh, it shortened it. Not only so, but they were increasing the barrier between themselves and the Promised Land. Their course from Etham brought them down to Pihahiroth, which means ‘where sedge [sawgrass] grows’.

This was truly a place where, according to the flesh, their hearts would fail them for discouragement—a place where, instead of finding their deliverance from Egypt complete, they found themselves in an apparently worse condition than when they first undertook the journey. Did they then remember the God who had already done so much for them? Not They murmured and cried. They saw only the Red Sea before them, and the Egyptians behind them. They saw no way of escape, because they neglected to put their trust in God.

The zeal with which the natural Israelites began their wilderness journey did not continue. In this we have a very vivid illustration of what may occur in our own individual experiences if we do not carefully watch ourselves. There is the possibility, yea, the danger, of losing our confidence in God. Perhaps the Lord may lead us, as it were, to the Red Sea, where every visible means of escape seems to be cut off. At such times do we fear and quake at the apparent impending doom? We should not, because it is here that God is afforded his great opportunity to give us deliverance. It is through such experiences that we learn the much-needed lesson that deliverance is not of ourselves, but of God. It is at such times that he says to us, as he did to Israel of old through his servant Moses, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”—Exod. 14:13

To have full faith in God means that we will trust him under all circumstances. It is only thus that we can enter into the rest which is provided for us by faith in Christ Jesus.

His promises give us the assurance that no matter what may happen, all things are working together for our good. Thus, in anticipation of the final end of the way, and the Canaan of rest that will be found there, we can, even now, amidst the strife and the difficulty of the way, give thanks to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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