by D. M. Panton

Chapter Eleven


The designed type—as deliberate and elaborate as any in the Bible—solves the problem of exclusion with extraordinary clearness. For Paul labours to make clear that the ninety-fifth Psalm names a Rest which, since it has never yet occurred, is therefore open to us: for David, though himself enthroned and at rest (2 Sam. 7:2), wrote of God’s Rest as still future; a fact which at once dissociates it both from the Divine rest after creation three thousand years earlier, and from Israel’s rest in Canaan five hundred years before David wrote. "There remaineth therefore a SABBATH-REST " - a word used nowhere else in the Bible, nor ever in classical literature, but coined by the Holy Ghost to express a toil completed — "for the people of God" (Heb. 4:9). So the Rest is the Millennial Reign. For it is the sabbath rest, or seventh millennium, following on six thousand years of redemption toil: it is God’s rest in the old earth’s closing dispensation, foreshadowed by every sabbath under the Law: it is not the Eternal Rest, for it is merely a concluding section, a closing seventh: it is, as Paul has just said, "THE AGE [not the Ages] TO COME, whereof we speak [of which we are speaking]" (Heb. 2:5). Thus Canaan is the type of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ[15].

Now we arrive at once at a question enormously emphasized by the Holy Ghost: against whom went forth the oath of exclusion? "For who, when they heard [the actual voice of God] did provoke?" - not Egyptians, nor the Seven Tribes of Canaan, nor Moab nor Amalek, none of whom were ever shut up to Jehovah, severed from all the world in a desert as the sole people of God: "nay, did not all they that came out of Egypt" - Israel, under passover blood and through Red Sea baptism. "And with whom was He displeased forty years? was it not with them that sinned " - as only believers can sin; that is, against privilege and light - "whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?" The carcasses were the proof of the oath: they so pampered the body, that mere bodies they became, reaping corruption. "And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest" - against whom went forth God’s oath of exclusion - "but to them that were disobedient?" - a justified but an unsanctified people. In the words of Bishop Westcott : - "The warning is necessary; Christians have need of anxious care: for who were they who so provoked God? - even those whom He had already brought from bondage."[16]

But what exactly was the sin which provoked the oath? "We see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief" (Heb. 3:19). But unbelief in what? Israel’s whole wilderness standing was on faith: "BY FAITH [Moses] kept the passover, and the sprinkling of the blood; BY FAITH they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land" (Heb. 11:28). The unbelief was not in fundamentals: we are never told that Israel doubted their salvation from Egypt, and their ransom by blood: on the contrary, the exact moment and cause are revealed when God’s oath left His lips. The rejected report of the godly spies completed Israel’s unsanctification: "because all these men have tempted me THESE TEN TIMES, they shall not see the land" (Num. 14:22); "they despised the pleasant land, therefore He lifted up His hand [to swear]" (Ps. 106:24). Israel strongly revolted against God’s picture of the future, and the corresponding demands made upon them: it was the partial unbelief of the regenerate: "in THIS thing ye DID NOT BELIEVE the Lord your God" (Deut. 1:32). So Paul says : - "The word of hearing " - the report drawn up by Caleb and Joshua concerning the Kingdom beyond Jordan - "did not profit them, because it" - not the good news that pointed back to the blood, but the good news that pointed forward to the crown; not the gospel of the Grace, but the gospel of the Kingdom - "was not mixed with faith in them that heard " - namely, the people of God. God gives us not only facts backward to believe, but facts forward: never to believe the facts backward is to be lost; not to believe the facts forward is for a child of God to drift at once into sin, and to incur the peril of the oath of exclusion.

So the Apostle closes on the clearest warning to the Church of God. "We which have believed do enter" - are entering; all believers are runners with the goal ahead, without having yet breasted the tape. "Let us therefore" — Paul even includes himself - "fear" - for great and frequent have been the falls of eminent saints - "lest haply a promise" - but conditional: for the oath of inclusion (Ex. 13:5), on a failure in sanctity, was met by the counter-oath of exclusion[17] - "being left of entering into His rest, any one OF YOU" - three times the Spirit empties this torpedo into the breast of the Church, the holy brethren who are partakers of the heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1) - "should seem to have come short of it" - the mere suspicion of failure, even though it may not be fully justified, for man’s judgment is necessarily fallible, is a thing to be earnestly dreaded (Westcott). "Let us therefore give diligence" - earnestly strive (Delitzsch); literally, make haste, be in hot pursuit; because the prize is noble and the peril great (Westcott) - "to enter into that rest, that no man [none of you] fall after the same example of DISOBEDIENCE " - an unholy walk springing from a secret unbelief. The Wilderness is a corridor to the palace, but we may so slip in the corridor as to miss the palace: "we are to fear the wrath of God, which within the sphere of even the chosen people has still displayed its judicial terrors upon all unbelievers" (Lange).

Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

[15] The Rabbis so understood the Sabbath. “As the seventh brings in a time of rest, so the millennial rest will close a period of seven thousand years.” : quoted by Delitzsch

[16] Never having left Egypt, nor ever crossed the Red Sea, the generation that entered Canaan (apart from Caleb and Joshua) from no part of the type, and so are ignored.

[17] The oath under the Law is paralleled by the double negative (Matt. 5:20, etc.) under Grace.

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)