Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.'” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:7-19
When Moses led the Israelites out of their Egyptian slavery what should have been a relatively short journey became a forty year trek. This was not what God wanted for His people but the Israelites were in an almost constant state of rebellion against God. They were not even out of Egypt when they wanted to turn back. They made golden images to worship and they complained constantly about everything. They just did not like how God was doing things. So because of this rebellion God decreed that none of those who left Egypt would be allowed to enter the Promised Land.
This was a harsh punishment to die in the dessert without a country to be buried in. Some would say too harsh. It is these types of judgments that unbelievers point to as why they do not want to follow such a harsh God. What seems to get lost in the discussions is one simple fact, why should God have allowed a rebellious people into the Promised Land. Every time things got hard or not to their liking they would turn on Moses and God.
Today the argument is not getting into the Promised Land but getting into heaven. Why they ask if God is such a loving God does He not let everybody into heaven? What they want is to live their lives divorced from God to flaunt Him at every chance and then after a life lived by their rules God should give them a pass. This equates God’s love with permissiveness. Permissiveness is not love at best it is indifference. As a parent who loves my children I punished them when they did wrong. I did this not to be cruel but to teach them what the right way to behave is. I am happy to say we have three adult children who we can be proud of. I know parents that went the permissive route and they are paying the price today as they try to continue to bail out their adult children and wondering what went wrong.
As a final thought, I am amazed that an atheist would want to go the heaven. Why would anyone want to spend eternity in the presence of someone they could not stand? I guess in a culture where every kid gets a trophy and there are not winners or losers and self-esteem is the utmost goal that makes sense. But as I have written before, God does not send anyone to hell. That destination is self-booked. All God does is allow you to spend eternity the way you have chosen, with Him or without Him. The choice is yours.
Have a blessed day,