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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1276

Why the Wilderness?
Part One

March 19, 2017

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1276 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Well, I just…my mind went to an old familiar scripture. But I’ll tell you, we need, oftentimes, to be reminded of things that we know, because, we are on a journey and many times we come through similar things and we just need a word that helps us right where we’re at.

It’s not just theory that we need to learn, ‘cause you could do that in a series of seminars and we’d supposedly have it all. But what we need is something that will sustain us and help us and encourage us in the moment, don’t we? I certainly need that. I know that you’re the same as I am.

And the passage I thought about is Deuteronomy chapter 8, one we’re very familiar with, many of us. And, the entire book of Deuteronomy is, basically, Moses recounting the Law and the promises of God to the younger generation. You remember how the older generation that came out of Egypt had rebelled against God and just refused to believe Him, and the judgment was that they were gonna wander in the wilderness until that generation passed away?

Well, now that time had come. And so, Moses was going back over the Law and all these things for those that had come out of Egypt, young, and weren’t part of that generation, and also, for many who had been born in the wilderness. And so, he wanted them to understand what it’s all about. Why did God bring us this way? What’s this really all about?

And so he says, “Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

“Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; land of wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.” (NIV).

And so forth. And he tells them, when you get all that blessing, don’t forget God. You know, I’ve heard, over the course of my lifetime, I’ve heard the wilderness journey, the deliverance from Egypt, the wilderness journey and the Promised Land being used as an illustration of many different things. And I think there’s some validity to all of these.

You know, in one sense, it’s a picture of people that are being called to the Lord and into a relationship with Him and they’re called out of Egypt, which represents the world. And then there’s a time of…is this real, are you really gonna believe me, are you really gonna embrace what I’ve given you or you’re just gonna turn and go your own way? And, then the Promised Land, in that instance, would be salvation.

I’ve heard it used of the deeper life, or the restoration of the church. Many of you have heard that as well. And, obviously, there’s some truth in that in the way the Lord deals with us as His people. And, on another level, many have preached it as: this is the world we live in, the wilderness equals the world and our life here in the world, and then Canaan is Heaven.

But the principles involved, in the wilderness journey that the Lord draws our attention to are applicable to all of the above. And, we need to see what it is that the Lord is seeking to do in our lives, no matter what our state is, if we’re somebody who hasn’t really come to the Lord, or if we’re someone who’s walking with the Lord and wondering what’s going on in our lives, and how do we cope with it, and where’s it going, and trying to learn the lessons that He would teach us. In every case, it comes down to this humbling, doesn’t it? It comes down to taking our rightful place before God.

You go back to the beginning and you see where Eve actually made a tragic choice, where the Devil tempted her and called God’s character and intentions toward her into question, didn’t he? You know, God knows that in the day you eat this, your eyes will be open and you’ll be as gods, and all of that. And she fell for it.

And what she was really doing was exalting her own will and her own opinion above that of God. I mean, you talk about the essence of pride…it’s saying, I’m in charge, I know best. It’s my life. The best course I can do is for me to do what I want to do.

And you know, a lot of people will hear about God and His goodness and they’ll try to use God. They will try to kind of go along with God and go along with the people of God, hoping to gain some of the benefits of the Kingdom of God, but they never really relinquish the throne of their heart.

And so, on that level, we can see in scripture and in experience that this is a pretty good picture of people coming into a contact with God and with His Covenant, with His Word, and the question becomes, what are they going to do with that? Are they ultimately going to fall through unbelief, and turn away, or are they going to embrace His plan and His purpose fully and enter in to His promise?

And, you see that really plainly in the writings of the New Testament, particularly, the scripture we’re familiar with, Hebrews 3 and 4. Here the writer to the Hebrews is concerned that they would start out and know about Christ but stop short of really entering in. And that’s the warning, “…lest…any of you should seem to…” (KJV). Do what? “…Come short of it.” That’s the burden of his heart.

It’s not that they would get the whole package and then somehow lose it. It’s that they would come into a place of acquaintance with God. In fact, chapter 6 talks about those who taste, “…the powers of the world to come.” They enjoy many of the blessings, as the Israelites did. They ate the manna, didn’t they? They got to go through the Red Sea. They saw the burning mountain. They drank water that came out of a rock, miraculously. They tasted God’s power and God’s provision. But they didn’t have any real faith, did they? And so, ultimately, when the test came, that was what was being tested.

You know, when we read words like, ‘test you,’ we sort of think of that as a test of me and my abilities, my willpower. God is gonna see whether I’m worthy, through my efforts, through something that I can dig out of me that sets me apart from somebody else who doesn’t quite rise to the challenge.

And we miss the entire point, to the extent that we think of it that way. God is proving whether there is a real faith. And faith is the opposite of gathering my abilities and rising to a challenge. It is surrendering to the truth about myself.

( congregational amens ).

It is coming into a total reconciliation with the reality of my need and who I am and who He is, so that that process of what happened…or that thing that happened in Eve and then Adam, of asserting their own will and their pridefulness against God, begins to be reversed and undone, because God’s not gonna take any of that into His Kingdom!

You know, that all comes from the heart of Lucifer! And when Lucifer rose up against God and said, I will do this, I will do that! “…I will be like the most High.” Oh, my God! What a blindness! And that same blindness afflicts our planet. It afflicts the human race.

And I am more and more convinced, as I go, that there has got to be a revelation of God to the heart of anyone who comes to God! We can explain it till we’re blue in the face, but until God confronts the heart with the reality of what the Gospel means, it doesn’t accomplish anything.

You know, the other day I was thinking about some things and my mind went to the scripture, somewhere in Acts, where Paul, I think he was in Philippi…yeah, because that was where he went into…Paul and Silas went to jail right after this. You can see how the Devil loves it…loves what he did. But anyway, he was preaching and there was a…I believe it was a young woman named Lydia. And the scripture says specifically, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” (NIV). That’s what we need. Folks, we need to pray that God will open hearts and understanding!

( congregational amens ).

Because, you can have somebody sitting here who does not get this at all. It’s just words. It’s just doctrines and ideas, and we come and we sing and it doesn’t…it doesn’t really dawn on their hearts what it’s about. I’ll tell you, the…you talk about humbling yourself to the Gospel. The Gospel is the ultimate insult, if you will, or affront to human pride there could possibly be. We, as human beings, love to live under the illusion that we are basically good people, we make mistakes and we come short and we maybe need God to fill in the gaps in our character and our performance and all of that. We just need a little help.

And the Gospel comes along and it looks the sinner in the eye, and it’s not with anger and wrath, like I’m about to kill you, but it is: you are a wicked, hopeless sinner. There is not one good thing about you. There’s not one thing about you that would qualify you for Heaven—not a thing. Oh, you talk about the offense of the Gospel!

And I’ll tell you, every once in a while I’ll read somebody’s comment about Christians and how they make people feel bad by telling them they’re sinners. We live in a world that is all about me and my feelings. God help us! We’re gonna have to grow up and pull up our pants and get over it.

But the Gospel is about facing people, not with condemnation, not with trying to grind people into the ground, but we’ve got to face the truth! We’re not what we think we are! And if God ever saves a soul, they’re gonna come to a point, somewhere along the line, where they’re gonna feel the reality, whatever form that takes in their experience, and their emotions, and their thoughts, the reality that they are sinners! That if God doesn’t show mercy, they are going to die and be lost! And that they…I mean the reality of what a sinner is, has to dawn on them until they’re like that man in the Temple. What was his prayer?

( congregational response ).

“God be merciful to me a sinner.” (KJV). And that was all he could get out. And he wasn’t saying, oh, Lord…his head was down, there was a sense of shame…how could I be this way? How could I be one with those who tortured my Savior? How could I not own up and take responsibility for what I am and what I’ve done, the sins that I’ve committed? Oh, my God! I’ll tell you, it’s God’s mercy when He brings somebody to that kind of realization. Oh, how we desperately need it.

And how many people there are that go to churches, and participate, and a lot of times they’re looking for the church that makes them feel the best and entertains them the best…and the group of people that they feel comfortable with, and so many natural, carnal things.

But oh, I’ll tell you, if it doesn’t ever come down to somebody realizing the depth of their need, to the point where they’re willing to humble themselves before almighty God and say, oh, God, I am a sinner! How could I have done what I did? And there was my Savior going to the Cross, not uttering a word of defense. What could he defend? Could He say, well, Phil wasn’t really all that bad? He just messed up here and there. He took complete responsibility for everything that’s wrong with me, as a man, as a natural man, deserved what He got.

Oh, I’ll tell you what, if people are never brought to that place, never reconciled to that truth, they’ll never enter in, because that’s the price of admission. It’s being brought to that humble place. And you see it in the people in the wilderness. Always it was about the issues. Always it was about me.

You know, God didn’t take them out there and say, now which route would you like to go? And, I’m making up the menu, what do you like? All of these natural…God didn’t come there as their servant, and yet, don’t we see—don’t we see in all that He promised and all that He did, what His real heart was?

( congregational amens ).

You know, something about human nature has caused us to think that if there’s somebody powerful before whom we need to be humble, that it’s really an act we need to put on for self-interest. You know, this guy’s really powerful, he could do something bad to me if I don’t grovel before him and sort of acknowledge that he’s bigger and tougher than I am. And so, we tend to see people who are powerful as bullies, who threaten us if we don’t bow under their influence.

But oh, my God, how we project that on God! God is not a bully! He is the ultimate source of love and goodness! And, how he blessed these people in spite of their rebellion, in spite of their unbelief, in spite of their hardness of heart! They never missed a meal! Think about the faithfulness of God! Think about clothes that didn’t wear out! Think about shoes that never wore out. Think about feet that never swelled in all of those days in the awful place of the wilderness.

You go there today, it’s just dry, arid. And yet, God was able to feed and water and keep them, and not just them, but their flocks, their herds. They had every reason to see the power and the goodness of God. And where some of them were constantly looking at their circumstances and complaining about their circumstances…it shouldn’t be this way, it should be this way. God, you’re not coming across, what’s wrong with you…except they would do it to Moses instead of his God.

But you see the basic selfishness! You see what’s at the heart of everything! It’s about me, and what I want, and what I think is best. And the minute God crosses that, in just the right way, all of a sudden, there is a rebellious unbelief that rises up and it manifests itself.

This is what God was testing. Because there were also people…there was a small remnant of people, of that first generation, who saw God…they saw the same things the others did. But what they saw was a God who could do anything! They saw a God destroy the mightiest army on the planet, and open waters that allowed them to go through on dry ground! They saw a God who shook a mountain and gave them laws and gave them promises!

They got out in the wilderness and they saw a God who could feed them! And, you talk about health food? I was just thinking about this this morning. That had to be the ultimate health food because they lived on it for 40 years! Every nutrient that they could possibly have needed for perfect health was in it! Think about the goodness of God demonstrated every single morning!

And there were people who saw that and they said, oh, this is awesome! This is a God I love and I just…I gladly take the place of someone who is dependent, someone who doesn’t know best, someone who is willing to just abandon what I think, and what I think I know, what I think I can do, and my ways of doing them, and my timing and all of those things, just let it go because I see His goodness in all this that He’s doing!

Oh, my! Do you see the difference? Oh, I want to be in that latter category. I want to be someone who, despite the hardness of the way…yes, it was a way, it was hard. There were scorpions, there were snakes, there was just dryness, there was boredom, no doubt, over this long period of time.

‘Course it didn’t have to take 40 years, did it? It was a matter of a few months, they were at the border of the land. And they sent spies over and ten of them came back and said, it’s a great land, you’re right about that, but there are giants and there ain’t no way we can do anything about it. And the people believed them over the report of the others that said, let’s go up at once! We’re well able to take it!

Why? What was the difference? They had seen the reality of the God that was leading them! They knew His heart! They knew His intentions were good! They knew that there was nothing on this earth that could stand before this God, if they would simply put their trust in Him and step out in faith!

You know, in various ways, this is something God calls on us to do every single day, to be willing to step out on His Word and trust Him with things that we cannot, in ourselves, do. That sound familiar? That kind of relate to where some of us are at? Oh, I’m up against a situation, I’m up against a need. You know, I’m getting older. I can’t do things I used to do. And you know, there’s so much that we’re called upon to humble ourselves, aren’t we?

But I’ll tell you, I keep coming back to this and I want to go on because this relates to every one of us. But I’ll tell you what…there has got to come a place, in a person’s life, where they truly are willing to not just experience God and sort of evaluate Him, but come to a place of really facing the truth about ourselves.

And I think I started to say, the Devil’s tactic, the greatest weapon that he has, is to blind people to this reality. Paul said, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Oh, what was it that transformed Paul? It was that light, shined right past all the Devil’s defenses and it went right into his heart, and all of a sudden, this self-righteous Jew saw himself as the worst of sinners! And it just cut into his heart! It took away all of his pride and his defense, and he just…oh, it was if…it was, God, how could you possibly forgive somebody like me?

I’ll tell you, that’s the ultimate abandonment of our illusions of goodness. It’s when God can strip us of our defenses and show us why we need a Savior!