Pastoral Letter: August 2020
16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Forty years in the Wilderness. Represented by forty days in Lent. Forty years of constant bickering and provocation. Forty years of burials for “those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the Wilderness.” Estimates of two million Israelites crossed the Red Sea in the Exodus. Two of them crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb. All the rest “were unable to enter because of unbelief.”
Unbelief is the one unforgivable sin. “Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”1Matthew 12:31 The Holy Spirit grants faith “when and where it pleases God.”2AC V 2; cf. John 3:8 Those who refuse to hear and believe the Spirit’s message will not be forgiven on the Last Day. Especially when they have heard the message.
Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”3Matthew 11:28 Those who will not come to Him will not enter His rest. Just like almost every Israelite who crossed the Red Sea. They would not rest in Him. They constantly rebelled against Him.
God gave them many opportunities to repent, but they would not. He continues to give opportunities for repentance. Opportunities abound daily. Those who will take advantage of these opportunities receive the forgiveness of sins. They will enter His rest, like Joshua and Caleb. They were the two who would listen to God. They knew they needed repentance and forgiveness. They believed in God’s rest for all His people. They wanted it for everyone. But not everyone will repent.
They will not repent because they don’t believe they need to repent. They will disobey with even their final breath because they want to do things their own way. God put up with this from the Israelites for the forty years they wandered in the Wilderness. He puts up with it from us every day of our lives. They were refused entrance into His rest because of unbelief. What about you?