Adversity will always test relationships. As we go through seasons of fire, we will either draw closer to one another or we will begin distancing ourselves from one another. The author speaking to fellow Christians in 3:12 says that the possibility exists to forsake our God. To forsake carries the idea of separation, of standing off from, or withdrawing or removing oneself. Though God will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), we are vulnerable to abandoning Him. The condition is simply the result of unbelief or a lack of faith.
This is why the author chose the generation that came out of Egypt to illustrate the point. No matter how faithful God had been to them, or how much His word proved true, or how many miracles they experienced – their heart was a heart of unbelief. The word “unbelieving” here in verse 12 simply describes a lack of faith on one’s part. It depicts an unwillingness to commit oneself to another or respond positively to the other’s words or actions. The idea in context is not simply the danger of disbelief, but a refusal to believe!
No wonder the author also characterized this kind of heart as an ”evil” one. The word used here refers to that which causes pain and is harmful or hurtful. When we are unwilling to trust God with all our heart, we cause ourselves such unnecessary pain, harm, and hurt. We can begin then to understand how as believers we can grieve the Holy Spirit who lives within us (Ephesians 4:30). What pain God feels when He sees His children afflicting themselves so unnecessarily.
Over and over in this particular passage which stretches from Hebrews 3:7 through Hebrews 4:11, God’s rest for His people is mentioned. The rest that God desires to give His people is permanent tranquility. It is a rest that positively affects us spiritually, emotionally, and physically. However, it is a rest those coming out of Egypt never experienced or enjoyed. This rest of God is good in all seasons of life but will especially be welcomed and appreciated during seasons of hardship and adversity. At the heart of the meaning to this word “rest” is to cease and desist. Think of the squirming of a young child in his mother’s arms, fighting the rest he so desperately needs. This is the thought being conveyed here. It is why the psalmist wrote, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). We can refuse to calm down and be held in the arms of God, or we can choose to surrender to Him and find rest. This doesn’t suggest that we have to like the season of adversity we’re going through. We are not told in scripture to be thankful for everything in our lives, but to be thankful in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). No matter what we go through, God’s rest is available for His people. Let’s find rest in the arms of God! “The everlasting God is a refuge, and underneath you are His eternal arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).