The one basic reason that the Israelites did not enter their God-given inheritance was unbelief. The same thing will keep us from our inheritance, too. The writer of Hebrews applied their situation to us, saying, “The word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Hebrews 4:2). God’s Word can come to us, but it does us no good, nor does it accomplish God’s purposes of blessing, if it is not combined with faith. It takes faith to make the Word of God work in our lives.
The next verse says, “For we who have believed do enter that rest” (verse 3). True faith brings us into rest. Do you have that rest of faith? Have you met those conditions, or are you in danger of being like the Israelites, who hardened their hearts? Because of their unbelief, they missed all that God had for them. What a tragedy if that should happen to us today! Yet the writer of Hebrews makes it very clear that it can happen—indeed, that it will happen—if we are not diligent about entering that rest.
A little further on in Hebrews, we have the practical application of this lesson: “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).
You may have heard me say, “When you find a therefore in the Bible, you need to find out what it is ‘there for.’” The above verse begins with a “therefore.” The point is, let us not go astray in the same way that the Israelites did in the Old Testament. Let’s guard ourselves against unbelief. Let’s be diligent and apply ourselves to walking in faith, conserving and cultivating our faith, strengthening and encouraging one another’s faith. Let’s not make the same terrible and tragic error that Israel made through unbelief. Bear in mind that there is a direct, causal connection between unbelief and disobedience.