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We are all familiar with the passage in Matthew where Yeshua tells us that he will give rest to those who are weary and weighed down. This is a promise and a comfort to us when we are faced with the burdens and responsibilities of this hectic, fast-paced lifestyle of the twenty-first century. But, there is a deeper meaning in this passage and an incredible promise. Let’s dig in a little deeper.
Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV 28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Yeshua’s words in this passage are actually in a Hebrew poetic form called a chiasm. The individual thoughts lead to an inward central theme and then back out again to end where it began. This passage begins and ends with a burden and breaks down as shown:
A: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden
B: I will give you rest
C: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me
C: for I am gentle and lowly in heart
B: you will find rest for your souls
A: For My yoke is easy and My burden is light
Before we get to the central theme, we need to look at the outer layer and work our way in. Those who labor and are heavy laden are to come to Yeshua. The word for labor is the Greek word #2872 kopias which means to feel fatigue, to work hard, to labor with wearisome effort. The phrase “heavy laden” is the Greek word #5412 phortizo meaning to be loaded up. The noun “burden” in the second part of the outer layer is phortion which is the noun form of the same Greek word phortizo. The heavy load in verse 28 becomes the light load in verse 30. But what is this heavy load that wearies us? Let’s go back to the Bible to answer this! The first heavy load that wearied man was the burden placed on Adam when he was expelled from the Garden of Eden!
Genesis 3:17 NKJV 17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.
The word toil is the Hebrew word #6093 “itstsabon” meaning pain, labor, hardship, sorrow and toil. Instead of eating from the trees of the Garden of Eden, especially the tree of life, which freely gave their fruit for food, Adam had to labor to coax the ground to grow plants to provide physical nourishment. But even that provided only temporary nourishment; without the fruit from the tree of life, Adam was sentenced to death. Our heaviest burden is the one we inherited from Adam; we labor to live from day to day and there is no respite from our labor. Eventually, we will all face death.
The promise of respite is the next layer in; He will give us rest! When God brought the children of Israel into the Promised Land, He said that He was giving them rest.
Joshua 1:13 NKJV 13 "Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, 'The LORD your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.'
Joshua 21:43-44 NKJV 43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. 44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
Notice that the promised rest is tied to the land! David wrote that there remains the promise of rest as long as we don’t fall into the same rebellion as the children of Israel who all died in the wilderness without receiving the promise.
Psalms 95:7-8 NKJV 7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 "Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
Psalms 95:11 NKJV 11 So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'"
The writer of the book of Hebrews confirms that rest is tied to more than the Promised Land referring to this same Psalm of David.
Hebrews 4:8-9 NKJV 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.
What is this rest spoken of by David and the write of Hebrews? The word used for rest in Hebrews verse 9 is a word that is used only here in scripture. In fact, it is #4520 “Sabbatismos,” a Greek transliteration for “Sabbath rest.” In Judaic writing, the Sabbath foreshadows the world to come; it is a day “which shall be all Sabbath.”
The passage in Hebrews continues to compare our rest with God’s Sabbath rest.
Hebrews 4:10 NKJV 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
The rest we receive from Yeshua is like that of God after He completed creation. We rest in the garden God planted for us. We rest in the completed work of Yeshua our Messiah. The book of Hebrews describes Yeshua’s qualifications and work concluding in chapter 11 that His work in regards to sin is finished, but there remains His return to bring us to safety.
Hebrews 9:28 NKJV 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Hebrews 10:14 NKJV 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
At that time, we will experience a day that is all Sabbath! All Rest! We who believe have assurance that we enter that rest!
Hebrews 4:3 NKJV 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
This, now, takes us to the center of the passage in Matthew, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”
When we take on a yoke, we are putting ourselves under the authority of the one who places the yoke. When the children of Israel went into captivity in Babylon, God told them they are under the yoke of Babylon.
Jeremiah 27:8 NKJV 8 'And it shall be, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will punish,' says the LORD, 'with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.
So, we are under the authority of Yeshua and we are to learn from Him! Jeremiah tells us what we are to learn!
Jeremiah 6:16 NKJV 16 Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'
We are to learn to walk in the old ways and, thus, find rest for our souls. Jeremiah goes on to tell us what God meant when He said they wouldn’t walk in His ways.
Jeremiah 6:19 NKJV 19 Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people-The fruit of their thoughts, Because they have not heeded My words, Nor My law, but rejected it.
They wouldn’t walk according to God’s Torah! The old ways are the ways of Torah. The Torah is the set of instructions for those who put themselves under the authority of Yeshua on how to love God and each other! David tells us that walking in Torah brings peace.
Psalms 119:165 NKJV 165 Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.
Now that we are saved, yoked to Yeshua, the Torah tells us how to live a victorious spirit-filled life! The apostle John tells us that loving God is not burdensome.
1 John 5:3 NKJV 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Our pride gets in the way, though, of submitting to authority. We ask, why we should submit to Yeshua’s authority. He tells us why; because He himself is humble. He is gentle and lowly in heart! We are to submit because He submits
John tells us that those who are in Him, who are yoked together with Him, walk the way He walked.
1 John 2:6 NKJV 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
When we submit to Yeshua’s authority, and learn from Him because He is humble, we find rest for our souls. This is the central theme of this passage in Matthew. Yeshua, our humble messiah, teaches us to walk in humility and submission by His own example. And through His submission to the Father, submission even to death on the cross, we have rest for our souls! And Yeshua’s yoke, His authority is easy to bear. His burden is not heavy, it is light! Yeshua gives us rest both in this life and in the eternal life to come!
Shalom and be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart
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