Those who lost out on rest in the Promised Land, according to the author of the book of Hebrews, were those Israelites who failed to trust God to deliver on His promises. He promised them a physical land that was flowing with milk and honey and when the 10 spies saw this land they certainly agreed that it flowed with milk and honey and some of the largest fruit they’d ever seen. There was one word that followed their acknowledgement of the desirability of that land. That one word is “but.” That’s found in Numbers 13:28. They give a favorable report of the land and then say “But the people who dwell there are strong…” They were looking only at their own abilities and resources and ended up saying in effect, “God can’t keep His promises.” We know our own limitations and don’t believe that God can or that God won’t bring about His own His promises to give us rest in this wonderful land. The “disobedience” referred to by Hebrews is not breaking any of the laws of Moses, disobedience is their failure (and ours) to trust in God’s good intentions toward us.

Hebrews 3:16-19 makes that very clear. It says, “For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”  Notice the first part, they heard God’s Word, His promise, but yet couldn’t believe it!

This unbelief is tantamount to an unbelief in God’s pure love for mankind. The Bible, Old Testament and New, speak to us of God’s “steadfast” or “everlasting” love frequently. From the earliest times in Genesis through the final thoughts of Malachi, it’s recorded that it’s God love for man that moves Him to promise and fulfill those promises. All creation speaks to us of God’s love. Even the destruction of evil speaks to us of God’s love for all mankind. He has good intentions for them and for us. But we, like the 10 spies at Kadesh Barnea, sometimes see physical evidence that contradicts this fact. Faith is not believing that God exists. Even the Devil does that. Faith is believing that God loves me and has good plans for me and my future. Jeremiah exhorts his people in the midst of great trials with God’s words, “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” To receive God’s love is to receive Jesus Christ because Paul wrote another “but.” He said in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Failure to trust God’s love is disobedience.