Learning How To Rest!

Hebrews 4:9, 11

One of our most elusive need in the world today is rest.
People will travel tremendous distances to find it.
Others will make great sacrifices to find its peaceful presence.

A magazine advertisement advertising a conference center and way back in the backwoods
had a advertisement that read: "This conference has everything -- no telephones,
no radios, no TV."

This was all said in the search that people have for rest.

As the world is searching for this rest, the Bible presents the Lord as the one who can provide it.
Hebrews 4:9 says, "There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God."
It is still available.
Verse 11 offers a challenge: "Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest,
lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief
."
We must work at it.
There is only one thing that can keep us from this rest, and that is -- unbelief.

Once we have discovered the art of resting in the Lord a new series of experiences
will open up for us.
We will see that some people will have an improvement in their health as they learn to rest.
It is almost as if resting were part of a divine healing (which it is).
Many seek it, and believe in it, but how does a Christian learn to rest?

We will start our learning by turning to Exodus 33:12-14.
This passage tells of one of the most personal interviews between the Lord and Moses.
It was an interview that changed the life of Moses.

Previous to this is the entire story of Moses.
It is the story of his birth, his failure, his running away; and then a new age in his life
when he met the Lord.
It continues with the account of the miracles in Egypt, the Exodus, the tremendous victory
over Pharaoh, and finally, the people delivered safe and sound exactly
just as the Lord had said that He would.

With the ordeal of Exodus ended, Moses faced an unknown future into an unknown land:
"And Moses said unto the Lord, ' See thou sayest unto me,
Bring up this people: and thou has not let me know whom thou wilt send with me.
Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way
that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight:
and consider that this nation is thy people.' "
(Exodus 33:12-14)

Moses is asking the Lord two questions:
"Who is going with me?" And "Which way do I go?"
Moses was not refusing to lead the people, but it was help that he wanted in these two areas.

In the operation of exodus, Moses had the help of his brother Aaron, who had been raised
all his life in Egypt, and who was knowledgeable as to places, people, and customs.
Before this coming adventure, Aaron would be useless.
He knew nothing of the ways of the wilderness.
He was a city dweller.
And because of that, he asked the question, "Who is going with me?"

Also, Moses wanted to know which way to go.
Egypt was a civilized country with roads and recognized places,
so that directions could be given and understood.
They even had maps in Egypt.
But as he faced the wilderness there were no roads, no places to go to,
and no points of reference.

Exodus 12:37 tells us that there were about 600,000 men, besides women and children.
Verse 38 says: "And a mixed multitude went up also with them."
600,000 men, plus as many women, would equal something like 1,200,000.
With their large families there could have been more children than adults.
All of these, plus the mixed multitude, could have numbered over 2 million people.

So, Moses was facing the problem with probably 2 million ex-slaves,
facing an unknown future in an unknown land.
Just think how much water that many people would need daily.
And the equally important question would be the daily disposal of refuse.
But Moses was not shirking the task, he simply needed an answer to his two questions.

God's answer to Moses was a perfect answer for him, and for us, and for all time.
No one but God could have suggested such an answer, and who was capable of carrying it out.
In verse 14, the answer was: "And he said, 'My presence shall go with thee,
and I will give thee rest
."
What a tremendous answer; so simple and so profound.

First, Moses had asked, "Who is going with me?" And the answer was "I am!"
God did not trust the tremendous task to any human being, or even to angelic beings.
God Himself was to be with them wherever they journeyed.

The second question Moses asked, was, "Which way do I go?"
God's replied to this request was the perfect answer: "I will give you rest."

In other words, the Lord gave Moses this complete answer,
"I am going with you, and that is all you need to know."
Moses would find rest in the God who was always there.
So, there was no need to ask, "Which way?"
The pillar of fire was the guide by night, and the cloud the guide by day.

As the cloud moved, they followed -- like the Wise Men who followed the star.
The star brought them to where the baby Jesus lay.
The cloud was the outward manifestation of the divine presence of God.

So, Moses started the rest of his life, 40 more years, on the promise of God.
Moses had many more questions and problems to bring to the Lord in the days to come,
but never again did he ask "who" or "where."
He simply turned with quiet confidence to the Lord who never left him nor forsook him.

Listen again to those last words in God's answer to Moses:
"And I will give thee rest."
Here was God, the Father speaking.
Then, let your mind go to the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 11:28:
"And I will give you rest."
The same words, hundreds of years later which was spoken by God the Son.

The words of Jesus gives us the answer where we can find rest.
If you long for rest, this can be the end of your search.

First, we should make sure in our minds what rest really is, and what it is not!

God promised Moses rest.
God kept His promise, and Moses enjoyed rest.
But the rest he enjoyed was not idleness.
Moses never sat around doing nothing.
How could he with more than 2 million people looking to him for every decision?

He was the President, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court.
He was on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
He was always in the midst of his people.
He could never get away for a vacation.

The rest Moses enjoyed was the conscious presence of the Lord,
who was the answer to every problem and every burden.
We can expect the rest that God gives us to be a similar experience.

You can read about this in Matthew 11:28-29: "Come unto me,
all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light
."

These are some of the most beautiful words in the English language.
You almost hear music as you hear these words.
The language is beautiful, the cadence is perfect, but the truth is blessed beyond words.

Look at that first verse: "Come on to me all ye that labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest
."
Now I would ask that you would consider two questions:
"Did you come to Christ? Yes, you say.
Do you have true rest in your heart and life day by day? No, you say.
Then, what has gone wrong
?"

How is it that many true believers find no rest in their hearts
They find only turbulence, unrest, fear, anxiety, and frustration.
Has the Lord run out of rest and blessings?
Obviously the answer is "No!"
Then, why is there no rest when the Lord has has promised you rest.
That is what you will find as we read on, and study this verse.

First, we need to see in verse 28 that the Lord did not say, "You will find rest."
He said, "I will give you rest."
The fact that He offers rest and the fact that we enjoy the rest are two different things.
One of the problems is that we take a verse out of context,
and try to build our faith on the one verse.
The truth spoken by Jesus is in these three verses (28-30), and not only in the first verse.
He did not only say, "Come unto me."

When you check through the three verses, you will find that Jesus gave a serious of instructions
which finally ended with the words, "Ye shall find rest unto your souls."
There are four words to be obeyed, not just one.

The Lord Jesus said: "Come, Take, Learn, Find."
This is so simple, but it is also so profound.
If I fulfill only one of the conditions, I can never hope to find the rest that Jesus provides.
So, let us look at these words one by one, and then, we may find
"the rest" that God will give.

The first word is "Come."

We are familiar with that word.
Most of us have already received Christ as our Savior, and we understand
the terms of the gospel.

The second word is were the challenge begins, "Take."

"Take my yoke upon you."
This has to be one of the most neglected areas in Christian living,
and possibly the least understood.

First, Jesus said, "Come," and we came to Him.
Now He says, "Take my yoke upon you."
And most of us do nothing about it because we have no idea what He meant.
The people in the days of Jesus would have understood that illustration.

The words, "Take my yoke upon you," describes a situation commonly seen in that country.
Oxen were used in pairs.
The yoke was a sturdy wooden bar which fit over the neck of the animal.
The bar was long enough to fit over the two necks, which were fastened to the yoke.

When the yoke was new it could be rough, and difficult to wear,
but as the years go by it becomes smooth and more easily adapted to the neck.
There is a legend that Jesus who was a carpenter, had a saying: "My yolks fit well."
That meant that His yoke is well fitting and is easy..

Now visualize this sight.
We visualize an ox at work with its calf running alongside its mother.
The mother might pull a cart or a plow while the young animal trots at her side.
She was available to satisfy his thirst whenever necessary.
The calf was free.
There were no ropes on it and no yokes.
The strongest tie that kept him close was his need of his mother.

Then there comes a day in the life of every calf when he is just too big
to run around doing nothing.
The farmer eagerly awaits that day, for then he has another source of power.
It is a happy day for the farmer, but not so for the animal.

For the first time in his life, he has to take the yoke.
Until then, he has been gloriously free.
Up to now his whole life has been "eat, drink, and be merry,"
but now everything has changed.
Now he has come to a time when an experienced adult ox stands with the yoke on his neck,
but this young animal refuses to bow his head and submit to the new bondage.

Then the farmer, with his helpers encourages the rebel to humble himself,
and then he does, and this is the end of his "freedom."
His life is no longer his own.
He belonged to another, who can now do with him exactly as he pleased.

This is what the people listening to Jesus would fully understand.
That's the way life was lived in His day.
This is where we miss the whole point of His truth.

The Lord Jesus says "Come unto me," and we gladly came
and found freedom from sin and eternal life.
Then, He says, "Take my yoke upon you," and we do nothing about it!
We still choose to run around and "do our own thing," just like the young animal did.

But ignorant or not, the fact remains that so few are willing to submit to the yoke.
Even when we understand His message, something within us rebels at the idea
of yielding up our "freedom," and of committing our lives
to the "bondage" of faith.

What we fail to realize is that this is the way it must be!
Animals have to submit.
That is why the farmer raised them.

We must take the yoke.
That is God's plan for us.
God didn't save us so that we could run around "doing our own thing."
We were saved to serve.
We have been bought with a price. (1 Corinthians 6:20)
We are not our own.

The most interesting part of the illustration is what follows.
In a yoke of oxen, one is always the leader.
It is his yoke, and he leads while the other follows.
The leader is the older, and more experienced, and has learned the simple techniques of pulling.

Now, see what the Lord Jesus said: "Take my yoke upon you."
Notice to whom the yoke belongs,
It is His yoke, and not yours or mine.

"Take my yoke upon you."
Jesus is saying, "Come join me in the greatest task of all."

The tragedy is that many of us are eager to spread the gospel,
to work and witness for Him in our own ways.
We have our own plans, our own ideas, and our own techniques.
And so we work at these, all for a good cause, but as a result, we have no rest.

Even the best of us can be driven on by a restless urgency..
It may look good and sound even better, but it is not what the Lord Jesus planned.
He said, "Come and submit your whole life to Me -- your will, your hopes, and your ambitions.
Take my yoke upon you
."

This is the picture that the Lord Jesus has applied to us: "Come, take my yoke, learn of me."
When we come and take the yoke -- His yoke -- we will find it restrictive in many areas.
The flesh always wants its own way at all times.

But if we can see the truth of the teaching and fit ourselves into the pattern,
then the blessing of rest is inevitable.
As we learn of Him, and from Him, allowing Him to be both our leader and our teacher,
then the promise of the Lord will come true in our daily lives:
"Ye shall find rest unto your souls."
That is what I need, and I believe that is what every Christian needs.

God's promise to Moses was, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest,"
and Moses rested in the fact of the God who was always there.
"I will be with you; that is all you need to know!"

The promise of Jesus to us is just the same,
"I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20)

Hebrews 13:5 in the Amplified New Testament underlines the certainty of His promise:
"For He (God) Himself has said,
'I will not in any way fail you nor give you up to leave you without support.
[I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless,
nor forsake nor let [you] down, [relax my hold on you]… Assuredly not
!"

We will not find the rest until we come, take, and learn.
If you only come and never take His yoke and learn of Him, then you condemn yourself
to a restless Christian experience.

Also in Matthew 11 Jesus said, "I am meek and lowly in heart…
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light
."
Now realize the implications.
If He is meek and lowly, and I learn of Him, then my life will become more Christ-like.
His yoke is easy.

The original word for "easy" signifies, "fit for use,
able to be used
", hence, good, virtuous,
mild, pleasant, in contrast to what is hard, harsh, sharp, and bitter.
The yoke of Christ is the fellowship of Christ.
It is that which unites and binds us together in love.
This is in comparison to the bondage of sin with its relentless agony of restlessness.

His burden is light.
If I see myself in the picture, under the yoke, alongside the Lord;
my leader and teacher, pulling together with Him,
then it is obvious that my share in the work is light.
It is His power, His piece, His plan, and I make myself available to Him.
I abide in Christ, and in doing so, I find rest, and the peace of God which passes all understanding.

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light
." (Matthew 11:28-29)

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White