The children of Israel made a decision that sent them into the wilderness to live out their lives. It seems they couldn’t let go of the sense of their own frailty and unworthiness. They looked at the land and longed to enter, but were too afraid to let go of their fears and fully trust God’s promise. They were still God’s chosen people and were cared for their entire lives. Moses was still their leader and manna continued to fall from heaven 6 out of 7 days. But they did not get to enter into the rest that God wanted for them.  Many believers today don’t experience God’s rest either because of too many circumstances and situations that distract their attention from Jesus. True rest for our souls only comes from an assurance of the full sufficiency of Christ. Our default, as it was for the Israelites, is to look at ourselves, see the frailty, weaknesses, and unworthiness and then double our efforts to find that rest on our own. Like Israel, we fail if we try to enter God’s rest on our own. Experiencing God’s rest in the land and eternal salvation are two different things. What the Israelites lost was the experience of the rest in this land and that’s what the writer of Hebrews warned his readers about. One must progress in their faith in the full sufficiency of Jesus. Fruchtenbaum says, “The Exodus Generation made an irrevocable decision and could not progress to the Promised Land. The generation to whom the Book of Hebrews was addressed could also make an irrevocable decision and fail to progress to maturity.”[1]

The writer of Hebrews sees his audience, and us, at Kadesh Barnea. We haven’t made that irrevocable decision yet and he’s confident we won’t. He believes we’ll continue our focus on Jesus. We’ll keep our eyes on him regardless of the giants in the land as well as the wind and the waves of life’s storms, and mature in our full faith and assurance of Jesus’ sufficiency. Hebrews 6:9 says, “Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.”

He’s not talking about eternal “salvation.” That’s already been established for them and for all of us who believe in Jesus. But the “things belonging to salvation” might become part of our daily experience as we occupy the land that God has given us in this life.  Allen says, “The author does not say the ‘better things’ refer to entrance into salvation, but to that which ‘accompanies’ salvation. The author assumes, and thus implies by his language, that the readers are believers.” [2] The things that accompany salvation are not itemized but I’d argue that according to the context it must include “God’s rest.” We’ll never have a perfect rest from all our trials and struggles in this life, but we can have peace with God and that peace is found only in a full assurance of the sufficiency of Jesus. Jesus calls us to himself so that He may give us rest, rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-29). Growing up, maturing in our faith, is learning how to rest in the full sufficiency of Jesus regardless of our life situations or circumstances.

[1] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 88.

[2] David L. Allen, Hebrews, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2010), 394.