So I sware in my wrath - God's grief at their continued disobedience became wrath at their final impenitence, and therefore he excluded them from the promised rest.
So I sware in my wrath - God is often represented in the Scriptures as “swearing” - and usually as swearing by himself, or by his own existence. Of course this in figurative, and denotes a strong affirmation, or a settled and determined purpose. An oath with us implies the strongest affirmation, or the expression of the most settled and determined purpose of mind. The meaning here is, that so refractory and perverse had they showed themselves, that he solemnly resolved that they should never enter into the land of Canaan.
They shall not enter into my rest - Margin, As in the original, “if they shall enter.” That is, they shall not enter. The word (אם ‛im) “if” has this negative meaning in Hebrew, and this meaning is transferred to the Greek word “if;” compare 1 Samuel 3:17; 2 Samuel 3:35; 2 Kings 6:31. It is called “my rest” here, meaning that it was such rest as God had provided, or such as he enjoyed. The particular “rest” referred to here was that of the land of Canaan, but which was undoubtedly regarded as emblematic of the “rest” in heaven. Into that rest God solemnly said they should never enter. They had been rebellious. All the means of reclaiming them had failed. God had warned and entreated them; he had caused his mercies to pass before them, and had visited them with judgments in vain; and he now declares that for all their rebellion they should be excluded from the promised land. God speaks here in the manner of human beings. Men are affected with feelings of indignation in such circumstances, and God makes use of such language as expresses such feelings. But we are to understand it in a manner consistent with his character, and we are not to suppose that he is affected with the same emotions which agitate the bosoms of people. The meaning is, that he formed and expressed a deliberate and solemn purpose that they should never enter into the promised land. Whether this “rest” refers here to heaven, and whether the meaning is that God would exclude them from that blessed world, will be more appropriately considered in the next chapter. The particular idea is, that they were to be excluded from the promised land, and that they should fall in the wilderness. No one can doubt, also, that their conduct had been such as to show that the great body of them were unfit to enter into heaven.
We here read the warnings which God gave to ancient Israel. It was not His good pleasure that they should wander so long in the wilderness; He would have brought them immediately to the Promised Land had they submitted and loved to be led by Him; but because they so often grieved Him in the desert, He sware in His wrath that they should not enter into His rest, save two who wholly followed Him. God required His people to trust in Him alone. He did not wish them to receive help from those who did not serve Him. 1T 281.1
Please read Ezra 4:1-5: “Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose.” 1T 281.2
Ezra 8:21-23: “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him. So we fasted and besought our God for this: and He was entreated of us.” 1T 282.1Read in context »