A Guest Blog by Rev. Carlston "RED" Berry
Retired Pastor Oklahoma, OK
“Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee.” (Isiaah 62:4)
In Hebrews 11, the focus of faith is on Jesus. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Abraham before them, blessed their families because they believed God would give them a better land someday. In the meantime, Canaan-land, racial purity, the fanatical keeping of accurate genealogies, and strict obedience to the law of Moses, were all for the purpose of bringing a Savior into the world. These things were to enable them to identify Him through His obvious fulfillment of all that information.
For Old Testament Jews, Canaan was given as a means and a foretaste, not an end. And it carries the same signification for our spiritual lives today. We remember what Paul told us, "The law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ" --- it cannot save us and was never meant to do so. Furthermore, Canaan was not a place where the people of God had only to rest, enjoy life, and be safe from their enemies. It was a place where they were expected to serve, worship, and glorify God by bearing witness to Him and His uniqueness to the surrounding pagan nations.
Neither is Canaan a type of Heaven, because there were many battles to be fought there, both to conquer the land and to keep it. In like manner, just as we never attain sinless perfection in this life, so the children of Israel never actually conquered all the territory God had given them. However, the very name, Beulah, expresses the idea of having dominion, telling us to look forward to the day when our victory over sin and self will be eternally complete and final.
Our text gives a double name to our land of rest. That other name, as you can see, is Hephzibah, which translates as "My (God's) delight is in her.". So, Canaan was "not your rest" for the Chosen People, because for them and for us, a greater rest is coming, in a better country, where there is eternal rest in a city whose builder and ruler is God.
For their belief in this better rest, this celestial city, the heroes of Hebrews 11 all died in faith, not having received the promise, because they believed God had reserved some greater thing for them. That "better thing", Jesus, has come. It is our privilege to enjoy a fullness of knowledge concerning the salvation He wrought, but we do not enjoy or even understand that salvation in its absolute fullness...not yet.
Heaven will be the ultimate rest, the final and eternal "greater thing" reserved for us—that "better country," our Beulah Land. It is reserved for all who like the heroes of Hebrews 11, choose to wait for it no matter what the cost. Moses decided to "suffer the reproach of Christ rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season...(because) he had respect unto the recompense of the reward."
Keep in mind that Jesus was our example of this very attitude. Hebrews 12:2 tells us, "For the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
He did it to bring us to glory. Let's do it to glorify Him.