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by Dr. John Thomas
Now, when all the people heard the evil report, they cried and wept all night.
They murmured against Moses, and wished they had died in Egypt, or in the wilderness, before they had been brought into this extremity.
They proposed, at length, to make a captain, and march back into Egypt.
As for Caleb and Joshua, they bade stone them to death.
The reader's attention is particularly requested to this passage of Jewish history.
The apostle in commenting upon these incidents, says that the gospel was preached to them on this occasion; and that the land spied out was connected with God's rest.
His words are these -- "They could not enter into his rest because of unbelief": then addressing his brethren, he says, "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it".
In the context of this passage the apostle had been speaking of Moses and Christ, the former, as a faithful servant in another's house; and the latter as a son over his house: whose house the believers in the things spoken of the land are, "if they hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end".
He then introduces the case of the fourth generation as a warning of the fatal consequences of letting go the hope of the promise.
He quotes from a scripture written in the fourteenth generation, in which the Holy Spirit repeats the sentence upon them, and upon all like them, who harden their hearts, saying, "they shall not enter into my rest".
What rest is here spoken of?
The peaceable possession and enjoyment of the land so highly commended by Caleb.
They did not enter in, but were turned back towards the Red Sea, and wandered in the wilderness for forty years, until the carcases of all the rebels above twenty years old fell to their lowest estate.
But did not the fifth generation obtain the rest under Joshua when they possessed the land?
No, says the apostle, they did not; "for if Joshua had given them rest, then would God not have spoken afterward by David of another day".
The rest which Joshua gave the nation was only transitory.
When he and his associates of the fifth generation died, the nations which God had not driven out were as thorns in their sides, which gave them but little rest in after years.
"There remaineth then," saith he, "a rest for the people of God"; even Canaan in the age to come, under Shiloh, the Prince of Peace, whose "rest shall be glorious," and undisturbed by war's alarms.
Now this rest under Shiloh was preached unto them.
The possession under Joshua was the first step to full accomplishment of the covenant.
Had the nation continued to obey the Lord's voice and to keep the covenant, and, when Christ came, received him as king on the proclamation of the gospel, they would doubtless have been in Canaan until now; and he might have come ere this, and be now reigning in Jerusalem, King of the Jews and Lord of the nations.
But had this been the case we Gentiles would have had no part in the kingdom.