7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”

You might see twenty warning signs on any given day without giving them much notice at all. But imagine how dangerous driving would be if all road signs suddenly disappeared or if you took off on a long road trip in a car without any warning indicators. Or think of what could happen if you took the wrong medicine. We need warning signs, and we can often save ourselves from disaster by paying attention to them.

The Israelites needed warning signs, too. One such sign was the past. Their ancestors had ignored the signs and faced the consequences. They had hardened their hearts during the forty years they were in the wilderness. They made a choice to disobey God, to reject His instructions and call, and so their lives were marked by wandering. They never got to enter the Promised Land and the rest God had for them. The psalmist and writer of Hebrews who quoted him lets us know we, too, are in danger of repeating the same sins and turning our backs on God’s warnings to us (Heb. 3:7-11).

Each generation has its own temptations that appear to offer an easy way out when life gets complicated. Even though the circumstances are not the same, fundamentally, the consequence of disobedience is the same. We see it throughout Scripture—hard-heartedness toward God causes striving that ends in death; humble responsiveness to God gives the blessing of peace and rest, the kind that lasts forever. We have a mutual responsibility as believers to warn and encourage one another daily in this matter.

• How is the history of Israel applicable to you, personally?

• Are you generally receptive or resistant to the warning signs about sins that God sends your way? Why?

• Thank God for His rest and His warnings that are meant to help you walk in that rest. Ask Him to help you see the urgency of obedience and your responsibility for helping others.