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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - Entering God's Rest

Tony Evans - Entering God's Rest

Tony Evans - Entering God's Rest
TOPICS: Rest in God, Sabbath

If you've been living long enough and have gone through enough, then you've come to understand life can get tiresome. I'm sure you've asked the question, "Does life have to be this hard"? One day everything is looking sunny, the next day it's a cloudy day. And then you find out it becomes a week, then a month, and a year. Well, God is offering you something. He's offering you rest. It boils down to verse 9 where he says, "There is and remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God". 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. The author of Hebrews throughout the whole book is telling them, "Don't quit. Don't give up. Keep going. You're gonna 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, 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 a way: 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. Chapter 4, verse 4: "And God rested on the seventh day from all of his works". So, the rest is designed for you to stop working. "He rested from all of his works".

So he goes back to Creation. When God created first day, second day, third day, fourth day, fifth day, sixth day, on the seventh day he rested. He didn't take a nap. He didn't go to sleep. He looked back at what he had labored, saw how good a job he did, and he wasn't that tired 'cause all he did was speak. "Let there be". But he looked at what he had done and he entered into the enjoyment of his accomplishment. He rested. He then instituted resting. It's in your Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments says: "The seventh day you shall keep holy as unto the Lord and it shall be a Sabbath for you". He not only had a Sabbath day. He instituted for Israel a Sabbatical year, a Sabbath year, every seven years. Then, every 49 years, there was another Sabbath, a Jubilee Sabbath.

So he built the Sabbath in to life. Every seventh day, God's people, the Jews, were not allowed to work. They were not allowed to work. God produced 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".

Stay with me. In the New Testament, the new covenant, all nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated. The tenth one is not. That is, one of the ten is not repeated. "Keep the Sabbath" is not repeated in the New Testament. It's only repeated in the Old Testament. Now, the reason why God didn't repeat that commandment in the New Testament is because he shifted a day. In the Old Testament, it was to finish God's work. In the New Testament, it was to start a new work when Jesus arose on Sunday morning. The Resurrection of Jesus instituted a new day. In the Old Testament, you looked back at what God did in six days. In the New Testament, you look forward to what God's gonna do in the new day because you're beginning a whole new regimen.

In fact, God even created flexibility because he knew we would not be living in Israel, a theocratic nation. We would be living in all these Gentile nations, people would be made to work on Saturdays and all that, so God told 'em in Book of Colossians, he says, "And even if you can't do it on Sunday, just pick a day. But make sure that there is a day set aside that recognizes you got here because of me and you're gonna get there because of Sunday from me, that I am in the midst of your yesterday Sabbath, your beginning Sunday, until you finish your journey," and he calls the finishing of the journey the ultimate rest when we go to heaven. That's why when you go to funerals, they say people have gone to their resting place because it is the ultimate rest.

Now, Deuteronomy chapter 12, verses 8 through 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. That's why when Paul was about to die in 2 Timothy 4, he says, "I've finished my course. Now there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness". You don't get your inheritance, that is, 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. The issue of rest is designed to give you an intermission along the route of your life's journey in order for you to receive your inheritance, that is, God's destiny for you in time and to be rewarded for what he has planned for you in eternity. 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.

Okay, let me explain, and you'll see how this relates to you and me in a moment. God delivered them from Egypt and he gave them a destiny called the Promised Land. The wilderness was a critical part of the journey, why? The purpose of the wilderness, of the negative environment they had to pass through before they got to the Promised Land, was one purpose, one reason. The ups and downs in your life and my life exist for only one reason. The good and the bad, the difficult and the dastardly, the challenges and the frustrations that we experience along the journey of our Christian life only exist for one reason. 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 'cause 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 'em? The Bible says God fed 'em with manna. The Hebrew word for manna means "What is it"? It's a question. Why would he give 'em a question? So they could answer it. The only reason we eat in a day is 'cause heaven opened up and dropped cornflakes 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. That's why he says, "Hold fast your confession. Don't abandon the faith just because things are tough". 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 gonna 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 alive it is. He says: "It's a two-edged sword". God says the Word of God is a two-edged sword that wants to slice right down the middle of your self life and your spirit life. Why does God wanna cut between the two of those? Because your self life gets in the way of your spirit life, keeping God from doing his work through the Word in your life. What you think, how you were raised, the feelings you have, all of those things get in the way of God taking you on the journey of you learning to trust him. We get in our own way of stopping the work of God by not allowing the Word of God to cut us. We wanna hear it, but we don't wanna be cut by it, but he says if you want the Word of God to become alive, you must allow it to cut you.

Now, why does this sword have two edges? The sword has two edges because it is used for both destroying and healing. It is used to mess stuff up so he can fix stuff up. So it is used for, like, our house being remodeled, tearing stuff up, so he can put new stuff in. So in order for you to be cut, he has to disrupt something, and what God does is he brings about disruption in our lives because he's trying to separate who is you and who is God. He's trying to put you in a situation where you see your soul ain't all that and a bag of chips. Where your way of thinking, your friend's way of thinking, how you were raised, your background, is not the basis of your decision-making.

Let me put it this way. The soul was never meant to inform the spirit. The spirit was always meant to inform the soul, but to get the soul out the way, God must cut something and he uses the Word, so a lot of us have stuff happening in our five senses because we've refused to be cut spiritually, because it goes so deep that it gets down to even discerning the intents of the heart. 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? 'Cause while one side cuts you, the other side heals you.

Now watch this, 'cause it gets gooder. He goes on to say, I'mma read this slow 'cause 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 noticed 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 done gone 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. When you go to the book, but you're looking for the person, when the living Word gets connected to the written Word, then the knife on both sides begin to cut and begin to show you a place of rest. I'll let you see that in a moment. Jesus said, "You know the scriptures, but you don't know me. You've read the Bible, but you haven't looked for me, because I am the giver of the life you're looking for". So you look to the written Word in order to connect to the living Word so that God can give you the rest to keep going on your journey.

Now, watch this, 'cause this is where the rest stop really allows you to recoup. 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 on 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". "Therefore since we," every Christian, "has a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God," watch this, "who has passed through the heavens".

Let me talk about passing through the heavens. The Bible says there are three heavens. Heaven number one: atmospheric heaven, where the clouds are. Heaven number two: stellar heaven, where the stars and the galaxies are. Heaven number three: where the throne room of God is. The Bible says on Friday Jesus died. On Saturday he went to hell and preached victory. On Sunday he rose from the dead. Forty days later, he stepped on a cloud and the Bible says: "He ascended up unto the throne room of God," that is he went through the first heaven, went through the second heaven, into the third heaven, where he's currently seated on the right hand of God. What's he doing there?

Hebrews 7:25, it says: "He ever lives to make intercession and to deliver those who are his children". On life's journeys, God is going to put you in situations you can't fix. And the reason he's gonna put you into 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.

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 just to be wounded for their transgressions, to be blamed for stuff you didn't do. Daddy, I can tell you all about it 'cause 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 called on him for help in a time of weakness.

God is not gonna 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 'cause you got a great high priest.

I'm here in the Rocky Mountains where people come over all over the world to rock climb, but also to just look at the beauty, the serenity, and feel the peace that envelops this environment. Well, God tells us to do some climbing, to use our feet and to walk and to move, but one of the ways we know that we are moving according to his plan and in his will is the peace that God gives us, the calm in our soul, that lets us know he's comfortable in us with where we are and with the movements we are making, the steps we are taking, and the direction we are going in.

When there is chaos and consternation in the soul, that ought to tell us to slow down because we're not moving with the footsteps of peace, but when we are moving, and God does expect us to move, to operate, to walk by faith, when we are moving, and we're doing it in concert with his purpose and plan for our lives, then we will have the sense in our innermost being that he is at calm within us because of the calm we feel inside of us. So as you move, and as you live your life, and you have question about whether your movement is made up of the right steps that you should take, based on the calm that you feel inside, you can be assured that you are moving exactly at the pace and in the direction God wants you to go because he's given you the peace that passes understanding. If you have calm in your soul, you can have confidence in your footsteps.
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