“To whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief…. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:18-19,12).
Hebrews warns the New Testament church: “Take heed to Israel’s example. If you don’t, you may fall the same way they did. You’ll descend into evil unbelief. And it will turn your life into one long, continual wilderness.”
Consider what happened to the unbelieving generation who were turned back into the wilderness. God told them pointedly, from the leaders to the judges to the Levites on down, that his hand would be against them. From then on, all they would know is distress and leanness of soul. They wouldn’t see his glory. Instead, they would become focused on their own problems and consumed by their own lusts.
That’s exactly what happens with all unbelieving people: They end up consumed with their own welfare. They have no vision, no sense of God’s presence, and no prayer life. They no longer care about their neighbors, or a lost world, or eventually even their friends. Instead, the entire focus of their lives is on their problems, their troubles, their illnesses. They go from one crisis to another, shut up in their own pain and suffering. And their days are filled with confusion, strife, envy and division.
Without faith, it is simply impossible to please God. After God walled up the waters of the Red Sea on both sides and let the Israelites walk through safely, they danced and rejoiced. And then, merely three days later, these same Israelites were grumbling against God, murmuring and complaining, questioning the very presence of God in their midst.
For thirty-eight years, Moses watched as, one by one, every Israelite in the unbelieving generation died. As he looked back on those who wasted their lives away in the wilderness, he saw that everything God had warned about had happened. “The hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy them until they were consumed” (see Deuteronomy 2). God suspended his eternal purpose for Israel for all those years.
Likewise today, some Christians are content to merely exist until they die. They don’t want to risk anything, to believe God, to grow or mature. They refuse to believe his Word, and have become hardened in their unbelief. Now they’re just living to die.