As we navigate our way down the rapids of life, we will either rest beside the calm waters or be dashed against the rocks by death or its prospect on our way. When the Lord is my Shepherd, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Death can’t hurt me or my loved ones who are “in Christ.” But there is no peace for those who fail to heed the voice of God from heaven. Isaiah 57:20-21 says, “But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” Those who rejected God’s word from Sinai that came through angels to Moses, did not enter God’s rest in the promised land. All of that generation over 40 years old, except two, passed away in the wilderness. At Sinai, the children of Israel “begged” not have to listen to God thunder from the mountain. The word in Hebrews 12:25 for “refused” is the same word used for begging not to have to hear God speak from Sinai.

The Israelites rejected God’s message from Sinai even though God shook the earth. They suffered the consequences. They all died in the wilderness and never experienced the rest God intended for them as they dwelt in the land. The message now that comes from heaven is even more important because it shakes, not only the earth, but the heavens as well. Hebrews 12:26 says, “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’” This might very well be a reference to Haggai 2:6 where that promise is found. It says, “Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.”

God has a stable future for believers. The realization of that future allows us to rest even amidst the trials and struggle and pains of life, even death! We know God’s Word, spoken to us through Jesus, is unalterable. We have a promise sealed in His blood. If that’s not our focus, if we’re not “looking to Jesus” and His deliverance, we’re in danger of missing out on the rest God intends for us to experience as we dwell in the land. I like what Fruchtenbaum says, “…he is not dealing with loss of salvation; he is dealing with temporal, physical punishment in this life. He is dealing with physical death. Those living under the Law did not escape temporal punishment for disobedience to the Law; therefore, how can one turn away from the New Covenant and hope to escape temporal punishment?”[1] The “temporal punishment” to me can’t be death itself because everyone dies. The writer has already said that in chapter 10. Now he wants us to understand that death has been conquered by Jesus. By faith we can rest easy in this life knowing our eternal destiny has been secured. Turning from Christ to religion destroys that rest! Only Christ offers true rest for our souls.

[1] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 185.