I mentioned on Monday’s post of quotes that I finished Hoping for Something Better: Refusing to Settle for Life as Usual, a Bible study by Nancy Guthrie, but I am rereading it again in an effort not to let its truths and lessons slip away.
I wanted to share a few of Nancy’s thoughts in a section titled “What Keeps Us From Real Rest?” from the chapter discussing Hebrews 3:1-4:13.
When the Israelites left Egypt, they looked forward to getting to the Promised Land — a place of their own, a place where they would no longer be slaves, a place where “they would finally be at home…finally put down roots and really rest” (p. 42).
And yet, as surely as the Promised Land was theirs for the taking and as much as they wanted it, something kept them from entering the rest that God held out to them. The writer to the Hebrews wants us to see what kept them from rest so we can avoid the same aimless wandering in the desert and ultimately dying in the wilderness that those children of Israel experienced (p. 42).
Nancy then brings from the passage the things that the Bible says kept them from rest:
1. Hardness of heart
Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. (Hebrew 3:7-9)
We see that exemplified in the Israelites’ complaining and disobedience — they even went so far as to wish they had stayed as slaves in Egypt.
Nancy then explores some ways hearts can get hard. She mentions that broken hearts can become hard, just as when we try to fix something that was broken with glue, yet the spot of the break develops a hard ridge. She admonishes “Don’t let your hurts harden you against God. Let your hurts become the places where God can work on you to mold you into his likeness as you stay soft toward him” (p. 43).
She then points out that “hardness of heart is also something we develop when we experience conviction of sin but choose not to repent” (p. 43), just like a place that is rubbed raw and develops a blister eventually gets to the point of developing a callous that doesn’t feel much of anything.
You could probably also assert from the Israelite’ situation that a lack of faith, a lack of applying what they knew of God, a failure to “seek…and set your affection on things above” (Colossians 3:1-3) contributed to their hardness of heart and can contribute to ours.
2. Believing a Lie
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)
“Only by saturating our minds with Scripture can we be equipped to recognize the voice of the liar in our lives and avoid the deceitfulness of sin that will rob us of rest” (p. 44).
3. Disobedience from unbelief
And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18-19)
The children of Israel would have said they believed in God, and yet they didn’t believe God’s promise that he would give them victory over the giants in the land. Therefore they didn’t obey God to go in and take the land.
Is there a giant in the landscape of your life that has you intimidated? What unbelief is keeping you out of God’s blessing because you don’t believe God is big enough or powerful enough or good enough to help you overcome it? (pp. 44-45).
She then mentions perhaps God has called us to do something and promised to supply everything we need to perform it, yet we hold back, or we wrestle with some sin we’ve asked forgiveness for and yet don’t believe he has forgiven, and other scenarios where “the problem” isn’t the problem, but the lack of faith keeps us from entering into real rest, resulting in disobedience.
She closes this section with, “What unbelief has led to disobedience in your life? Won’t you chose to believe God’s Word and thereby enter into the rest of God?” (p. 45)
I had heard many of these individual points before, but I had never heard this really laid out in this way, and it was a good admonition to remind me to guard my heart and watch for those places where I am allowing hardness, untruth, and disobedience to creep in.