The question of entering into the “rest” of the Lord will surely hang over the heads of the saints as the world counts down to the “Day of the Lord”—God’s worldwide Day of Judgment. That day should hold no fear for those who have entered into his rest, who have broken through the obstacles the Lord has knowingly permitted to stand in their way for the sake of their spiritual growth. As there was once a “provocation” of God at the time his people wandered in the Sinai wilderness, so there is prophesied a similar provocation that occurs before the Lord’s coming.
Says the Lord to his saints in that day who limit themselves to the basic principles of the gospel and decline to inquire into its fulness: “Whom shall he give instruction? Whom shall he enlighten with revelation? Weanlings weaned from milk, those just taken from the breast? For it is but line upon line, line upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept; a trifle here, a trifle there. Therefore by incomprehensible speech and a strange tongue must he speak to these people, to whom he said, This is rest; let the weary rest! This is a respite! But they would not listen.
“So to them the word of Jehovah remained: Line upon line, line upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept; a trifle here, a trifle there, that, persisting, they might lapse into stumbling and break themselves, become ensnared and be taken captive.” (Isaiah 28:9–13; cf. Alma 12:9–11) To those who preside over his people of Ephraim who disavow more than the line upon line principle of learning, he says, “Scoff not, lest your bonds grow severe, for I have heard utter destruction decreed by my Lord, Jehovah of Hosts, upon the whole earth.” (Isaiah 28:22; cf. v 14)
To such as stand between the Lord and his saints—who make them beholden to themselves instead of to Christ in an unholy codependency—he warns, “I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:10–13)
Indeed, entering into God’s rest entails being beholden not to men but to “the living God” (Hebrews 3:12), to offer one’s all in sacrifice (Lectures on Faith 6:7–12), to minister in the high priesthood after the holy order of God (Alma 13:6–14), to “see the face of God” and enjoy “the fulness of his glory” (Doctrine & Covenants 84:22–24). Exhort Paul, Alma, and Jacob, “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrew 4:11)—that is, of not inquiring but “scoffing”—“as in the first provocation” (Alma 12:36);
“We labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness. Wherefore we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world” (Jacob 1:7–8)
Those who did “partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest” include Nephi (1 Nephi 1:1). It is no accident that his parting words to the end-time Ephraimite Gentiles, whom he had seen in vision, touch on the gravity of their entering into God’s rest: “And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day.” (2 Nephi 33:14)