The three short chapters in Hebrews (3,4 & 5) provide an abundance of thoughts. Paul is reflecting back on the lessons of earlier days, such as those in Joshua when the people were “entering (God’s) rest” (4:1) as they settled in the promised land. We read, “for good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith …” (verse 2).
A key lesson in the book of Joshua is the failure of many of them to settle in the land. The generations after Joshua, as we read in Judges, “were not united in faith”, except briefly, when a good leader arose. This is the lesson of all history – but the leaders are rarely ones, of whom it can be said, “they walked with God” – as did Enoch and Noah (Genesis 5:22; 6:9). God’s response to Solomon’s prayer about his sons, spells out the Divine attitude of giving blessings, “… if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me as you have walked …” (1 Kings 8:25).
Returning to Hebrews we read, “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God (the kingdom) … Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (4:8,9,11).
We need to note the next words, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”.
We must read God’s word prayerfully so this happens with us, sensing how true it is that, as David expressed it in Psalm 139, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! … you discern my thoughts from afar. You … are acquainted with all my ways” (verses 1-3). Moses surely was strengthened by knowing this as he led the people through the wilderness, and now Joshua senses the same. May we be “united by faith” in sensing the same as we complete our journey to the kingdom through today’s wilderness.
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