February 4 I Sunday
“Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” —Hebrews 4:1
The connection between Israel’s deliverance from slavery and our deliverance from sin also includes deliverance to something. The Israelites would have been understandably relieved when they left Egypt. They had been enslaved for over 400 years, but they would never again have to fear the crack of a whip or the bellowing commands of a slave driver. As Christians, it is deeply relieving to know that although we are still guilty of sin, we have been forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Jesus and no longer have to be afraid of death.
Spiritual freedom is never just from something, but is to something and for something. The Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt so they could enjoy the riches of Canaan promised to Abraham over 500 years earlier. In the Promised Land, their needs would be richly provided for and they could rest in the sufficiency of God under His sovereignty. We are freed from our slavery to sin, so that we may enter the fullness of Christ,
described in Hebrews as a land of rest, in which all the resources of heaven are made available to us in Christ.
The problem for the Israelites was that they stopped trusting God. They began depending on their own resources and this turned what should have been an 11-day journey into 40 years of wandering. Moses sent spies out to survey the land of Canaan, and they came back with reports of large armies and fortified cities. Deciding it would be impossible to take the land, they turned back, forgetting that the God who had miraculously delivered them from Egypt had also promised to settle them in Canaan. The Israelites trusted God to deliver them from, but did not equally trust Him to deliver them to.
Perhaps the reason Scripture repeatedly tells the story of how Israel missed out on resting in the Promised Land is because many believers experience the Christian life in a similar way. Some of us think the purpose of the Gospel is simply to make us respectable when we go to heaven. We are thankful for the cleansed conscience that Jesus’ death on the cross gives, but in the meantime, we wander like the Israelites without concern for His lordship.
The Christian life is not about heaven later but about our relationship with God now. Israel’s rest was found in a place, Canaan, but our rest is found in a person, Jesus Christ. He is our strength, sufficiency and fullness. Only when we depend on Him will we begin to experience life as God intended us to—a life in which we rest in His full provision.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, thank You that I have been saved from sin so I can enjoy a relationship with You. Help me to rest in your strength and sufficiency every day of my life. Thank you, Lord.