In the wilderness, when things are difficult, God says, I sent you there so that you would learn to trust me.
Dr. Tony Evans says the ups and downs in your life exist for only one reason. And that is to teach you to live by faith before you get to the promised land. This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of The Urban Alternative. Ancient Jews who honored the Sabbath day of rest were ridiculed by unbelievers for being lazy. But today Dr. Evans explains why there's much more to the Sabbath than just taking a day off.
Let's join him as he takes a look at entering into God's rest. To understand the context of this need for rest, you have to understand what's happening in the book of Hebrews. The book of Hebrews is full of Christians who are tired. And they're tired of being Christian. Because being a Christian meant resistance. Being a Christian meant being ostracized. Being a Christian meant being rejected. There were so many negative things they were facing.
And being a Christian, they were just tired. The author of Hebrews throughout the whole book is telling them, don't quit. Don't give up. Keep going.
You're going to make it. And in the midst of this, in chapter 4, as in other chapters, he tells them that God gives pit stops along the way. And he calls those pit stops rest. Have you ever been on a long journey and you see the sign rest stop up ahead? The purpose of a rest stop is not for you to stop your journey. The purpose of a rest stop is not for you to go back home. The purpose of a rest stop is to give you a place where you can recoup, use the facilities, and be able to continue on your journey. So along your route, there are rest stops. And the rest stops are designed to be encouragement spots along the way in order for you to complete your journey. The Christian life is a journey. But in this journey of life, God says there is a Sabbath rest that belongs to the people of God.
Or let me put it away. There is a rest stop that people who don't know God don't have. It is a rest stop in life for the people of God.
It is not available to the general public. Every seventh day, God's people, the Jews, were not allowed to work. They were not allowed to work. God would produce manna so that they would have more than enough to eat on the sixth day to cover the seventh day. He said because on the seventh day, I want you to look back and remember where your source was. That the only reason you got through six days was because of my work.
Because any work you did had to depend on some work I did. There is nothing you do on six days that doesn't borrow from something he did on his six days. If he didn't do what he did on his six days, you couldn't rest on your seventh day because you would have no source to draw from. So on the seventh day, I want you to be reminded that I am your provider, I am your source, and I am going to take care of you on the seventh day because you remembered me and remembered me as your source. Deuteronomy chapter 12 verses 8 to 10 says that God's rest involves his inheritance.
Let me say that again. Deuteronomy 12, 8 to 10, God's rest involves his inheritance. So let's go a little deeper. God establishes rest to get you to a particular goal. And the particular goal of rest is to get you to your inheritance. Every believer has two inheritances. One, the destiny God has for you in time. Two, the rewards he has prepared for you in eternity.
But whether you get the temporal inheritance or whether you get the eternal rewards, it's tied to one overarching principle. Did you finish your journey? You will not realize your destiny in time, nor will you get your rewards in eternity unless you finish your work. Remember, God finished his work.
That's when he rested. A lot of Christians get started who don't complete their Christian journey. So the issue of rest is completing a journey and God giving you pit stops in order for you to complete the journey through these intermissions that he has established. Now, let me explain the journey because he says, don't be like Israel who didn't get to their inheritance. He says, for example, in verse 11, therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest so that no one will fall through following the same example of disobedience.
What same example? Israel's example. God delivered them from Egypt and he gave them a destiny called the promised land. They were to leave Egypt and they were to make a trek to the promised land, God's destiny. But to get from Egypt, the place of deliverance, to the promised land, the place of destiny, they had to go through a parcel of land called the wilderness. The wilderness is dry, dusty, the wilderness doesn't have a lot of food, doesn't have a lot of water.
Come on, God, why can't you just take me from Egypt and drop me in the promised land? The Lord sent them through the wilderness in order for them to learn to live by faith. The wilderness has one goal and that is to teach you to live by faith before you get to the promised land. Because if you don't learn to live by faith before you get to the promised land, then you will have not learned your need for God and you will only be concerned about the blessings in the promised land. This is where a lot of Christians get messed up today because they're promised the blessing of the promised land without being taught about the lessons of the wilderness. They come to get their blessing in the promised land, but then when they face snakes in the wilderness, no water in the wilderness, no provision in the wilderness, difficulty in the wilderness, they don't know how to function because they were never taught that the wilderness is a necessary part of going from Egypt to the promised land. And in the wilderness, when stuff is tough, when things are difficult, God says, I sent you there.
He says this in Deuteronomy 8. He says, I sent you there so that you would learn to trust me, so that you would learn. I let you go without water so you'd have to look to me if you wanted to get something to drink.
I let you go without food so that you'd have to look to me. You know how he fed him? The Bible says God fed him with manna. The Hebrew word for manna means what is it? It's a question.
Or you could say what it is, OK? But the Hebrew word for manna is what is it? Why would God give him a food called what is it? Because it was a question. Why would he give him a question?
So they could answer it. The only reason we eat in the day is because heaven opened up and dropped corn flakes from above. In other words, he put them in a situation so God will let you get sick. He will let the job go bad. He will let the relationship decline. He will let you not know which way to go.
He will let you because he wants you to learn what it's like before you get all the blessings of what life looks like when he is your only option. He says, but Israel did not learn that lesson. And in spite of all the things God did, they refused to believe God. And because they refused to believe God, that first generation never got to the promised land. Now, they were saved. They were on their way to heaven.
But they didn't see God on earth because they refused to finish their journey. See, we got Christians today who want to go back to Egypt. I want to go back to the world.
There's a lot better fun out there. They want to go back. But God says, I have an inheritance. But I'm going to give you rest stops because I know the wilderness, this journey can be tough. And so I want to show you where to pull over. I want to show you where to pull over and be able to get reinvigorated on a Sabbath rest. Not so you can go to sleep, but so that you can keep going on your journey. Don't abandon the faith just because things are tough. Dr. Evans will have more for us when he returns with the second part of today's lesson in just a moment.
Stay with us. Along the way, you'll explore key teachings and learn how to apply them in real world situations. There's lots of exclusive content from Tony to keep you interested and motivated, and an online forum where you can ask questions, get answers, and collaborate with other students. It's almost like having a seminary on your smartphone. Visit tonyevans.org today and connect with the Tony Evans Training Center, where you can explore the kingdom anytime, anywhere.
You can find out more about the Tony Evans Training Center when you visit tonyevans.org. And while you're there, check out how you can get the full-length version of today's message to review in its entirety or to share with a friend. It's part of Dr. Evans' 10-part teaching series called Bold Belief. This series will help you recognize God's presence in your life and grasp the reality of His promises, teaching you how to live with renewed confidence, conviction, and purpose. We'll send you all the messages in Bold Belief on either CD or digital download as our gift when you make a contribution to help support Tony's ministry here on the radio and around the world. And for a limited time, as an added bonus, we'll include his encouraging book, God is Up to Something Great.
This book explains how all the positives and negatives of your past can add up to a very encouraging future. Find out how to get this special double resource package when you visit us at tonyevans.org or give us a call day or night at 1-800-800-3222 and let one of our resource team members help you. That's 1-800-800-3222. I'll repeat that information for you after part two of today's lesson. Here's Tony.
Okay, so we've set the stage. You understand rest. He comes now in verse 12. For the word of God is living, active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, joint and marrow, and judging the intents of the heart. If you want a rest stop, a pit stop, if you want a place to regain your ability to keep going, he says you're going to have to pull over at the word of God. You're going to have to pull over at the word of God.
Stop pulling over at the word of man. He says the word of God is not just a book on a page. It's not words on paper. It is a living. He says it's alive and it works. So this book is not dead. He says the word of God is alive.
And then he tells you how live it is. He says it's a two-edged sword. If you were to look at the word of God, not as a book on paper, but as a sword that cuts, and if you dare take the risk of inviting God to cut you, don't just wait for him to cut you, invite him to cut you.
Why? Because while one side cuts you, the other side heals you. Now watch this, because it gets gooder. He goes on to say, I'm going to read this slow because I want you to see what it says here in verse 13. And there is no creature, so you're not an exception, hidden from his sight, he got you, you on blast, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. I don't know if you notice something different. In verse 12, he says the word of God is, but in verse 13, all things are open to his eyes.
Wait a minute. We didn't go on from the book to a person, because the word of God is not just a book. The Bible is the word of God in the book, but the word of God is also a living person. John 1, verses 1, 14 and 18, in the beginning was the word, the word was with God, and the word was God. Verse 14, and the word became flesh, verse 18, and he unveiled God before us.
So watch this now. When you go to the book and look for the person, God will guide you to the rest stop. He says in verse 14, therefore, somebody say therefore. That means in light of what's just been said about rest, since we have, every Christian has, a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. That means keep going on this journey, no matter how tough it's gotten. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who's been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin, therefore draw near. On life's journeys, God is going to put you in situations you can't fix. And the reason he's going to put you in to situations you can't fix is because he wants to remind you, you have a great high priest, and he ain't down here with you. He ain't messed up like you.
He's not limited like all your friends are. He's seated in the third heaven. He's high and lifted up. But not only is he a high priest way up there, he says he's a priest who can sympathize with your tears, sympathize with your loneliness, sympathize with your regrets. He can feel it. What God is saying is you have a high priest who when the Father says, Tony Evans, Jane Doe, Beth Ruth, they called on me, the Son says, well, let me tell you how that feels, Father, because I was down there.
I was in the middle of it. I felt what they felt without sin, but I know what they're going through. So let me give you the hookup, Daddy. Let me tell you how they feel and let me tell you how it hurts. God, let me tell you what it's like to cry. Let me tell you what it's like to be rejected. Let me tell you what it's like to be killed. Let me tell you what it's like to have your friends walk away from you. Let me tell you what it's like to be wounded for their transgressions, to be blamed for stuff you didn't do. Daddy, I can tell you all about it because I've been there.
I know how they feel. You have a high priest who can sympathize with your infirmity, but not only can he sympathize, he says you call on him for help in a time of weakness. At our church, we have a help desk. When you call a help desk, it's because you need help.
That means you got a computer problem you don't know how to fix. So you call a help desk to send somebody over who has the expertise, who can deliver you from your problem. God has a help desk. It says we have a high priest who sits on the throne.
That means he's a king. And he dispenses from his help desk grace and mercy in time of need. You say, I'm tired. Life's journey is too hard. The wilderness is too tough. God says, well, you got a help desk and I will give you rest. I will meet you at that place in your time of difficulty and I will walk through it. God is not going to let you go from Egypt to the promised land and skip the wilderness. And he will keep you in the wilderness as long as it takes to live by faith so you can keep going. So don't you quit. Don't you give up on God.
Don't throw in the towel just because it's been a long time. You've been waiting a long time, praying a long time, trusting a long time, believing a long time. Don't you give up on God because you got a great high priest. And I can testify that we have a great high priest. I will testify that no matter what I'm going through, you're going through.
We're going to keep preaching, keep teaching, keep walking, keep going. Because I have a great high priest who sits up in heavenly places, who says you don't quit just because going gets tough. Now let me say one final thing because I don't want you to misunderstand because sometimes God doesn't take the problem away. I wish I could come and tell you at the rest stop, all your problems would disappear.
But that would be a lie. Many problems don't disappear, but all problems get help. Sometimes help means taking it away, but other times help means making the load lighter while you still carry the load. Sometimes God makes it disappear, but other times God joins you in it. It's like Isaiah 40 says, sometimes he swooped down with wings as eagles and he lifts you out of it. Sometimes he runs alongside of you and gives you a second wind. But sometimes you're just too tired to run and you just got to walk.
He just holds you up along the way. You remember how we used to carry suitcases? We used to pick them up and we have to carry them heavy as they are. But all suitcases today have rollers on them.
They have rollers on them. Now it's the same weight as if you picked it up, but you're not carrying it the same way. Because the rollers on the bottom makes your load light, makes your load easy. Under the old way, you had to carry your own problems and sweat and make it happen. But with your great high priest, he put rollers on your problems, rollers on your situation.
It's the same problem, but you carry it away. So Jesus said, come unto me all ye that labor and a heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. So don't you give up on God.
Don't you throw in the towel. You keep going. We keep going.
We'll encourage one another to keep going. Because greater is he that's in us, that's he that's in the world. Somebody ought to bless his name. Somebody ought to give him glory. Somebody ought to praise him.
Because that's the God that we have. Dr. Tony Evans, on the assurance and confidence we can expect when we follow God's leading, being obedient to his word. Now before we go, I want to quickly remind you about the special offer I mentioned earlier. If you help support this broadcast by making a donation to the ministry, we'll say thanks by sending you all ten messages in Tony's current series, Bold Belief.
Along with his uplifting book, God is Up to Something Great. Now this offer will only be around for a few more days, so don't put it off. Drop by our website, tonyevans.org, where you can get all the details and make the arrangements. Or give us a call at 1-800-800-3222, where resource team members are available 24-7.
Again, that's 1-800-800-3222. Well, there's a saying that kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give. Well, as we've mentioned before, Dr. Evans believes kindness is a gift that our society can't afford not to give. Take the time to show kindness to those you meet today, and in the name of Jesus, look for opportunities to demonstrate kindness to someone who needs a touch from God. You'll help make your community a better place when you demonstrate the love of God through your acts of kindness. Well, coming up tomorrow, the only prayers that really go unanswered are the ones we never actually prayed. Dr. Evans will talk about praying with confident boldness as he explores the importance of asking, seeking, and knocking. Be sure to join us for that. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by the Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
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