The REST of God
Start off in Matthew 11 where Jesus is talking to the crowds, but also praying to God. He uses this prayer to show us three things:
Matthew 11:25-30 ESV  At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;  yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  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.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
1) The first thing we discover from this prayer is about REVELATION.
Matthew 11:25-26 ESV  At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;  yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
Jesus shows us that God has revealed himself to us.
What was once hidden and secret has now been made known to us.
These are the things of God, his principles, his plan, his purpose and will for our lives.
Those things were once distant and dormant, but because of Jesus he has made these things known to us. We have the word of God that reveals to us the will of God for our lives.
2) The second thing we discover from this prayer is RELATIONSHIP.
Matthew 11:27 ESV  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
This scripture shows us that we are brought into the things of God through relationship with Jesus.
Just as God the Father and Jesus are unified in relationship we too are brought into this
Jesus chooses to bring us in and reveal these things to us on a personal level.
Everyone has access to the knowledge of the things of God - they can access the bible, look up information about God.
But it is only in relationship with Jesus that we have a personal relationship and revelation of God for our lives.
Revelation leads to relationship with God.
Everything Jesus exemplified through his life was reflecting the heart of
God, and we are given access to those things.
3) The third thing we discover from this prayer is REST.
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
First God has revealed the Kingdom of God to us, then we must progress into a relationship with God, but it doesnʼt finish there, the third
step is to enter into Godʼs REST.
REVELATION leads to RELATIONSHIP RELATIONSHIP leads to REST.
Some people never discover this next step.
Look specifically at the concept of REST today.
Throughout the bible this idea of “rest” comes up a few times.
In Genesis we know that on the 7th Day God ... RESTED.
Jesus in the passage above promises us “rest for our souls”.
In Exodus God promises Moses rest:
Exodus 33:14 ESV  And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
Something I have never really studied or looked into, but through my devotions this week God really spoke to me about just how important it is.
Start by clarifying that rest isnʼt: doing nothing, not working, going on a holiday.
It is so much more than that.
Hebrews 3+4 gives us some insight into this concept of rest.
Hebrews 3:18-19 NIV  And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed ?  So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Hebrews 4:1-3a NIV  Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.  For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.  Now we who have believed enter that rest...
There is quite a bit here, but I want to pull out a few things.
This passage shows me that there are people who are believers who never take the next step from RELATIONSHIP to REST.
Who the writer was referring to was Israelites.
If youʼre not familiar with the story, the Israelites were in slavery for hundreds of years, Moses is appointed by God to lead them out of this slavery and into the promised land. However because of their disobedience they were unable to enter into it.
There is a clear parallel that the promised land for the Israelites is linked to this idea of “rest” for us today.
The promised land isnʼt a physical location but in fact a spiritual location.
Joshua was the next person that God raised up and he was able to take them into this promised land.
The parallel for us is that Jesus name also means Joshua.
Therefore Jesus is the only one who can lead us into this promised land.
It is a place that we arrive at as Christians in our relationship with God.
There are two keys to entering into this place of “rest. 1) FAITH
In the verse above we read “because those who heard did not combine it with faith.  Now we who have believed enter that rest...”
It takes faith to get to this point.
Faith is what enables us to step into and live in this “promised land” - this place of “rest”.
There is more to your relationship with God than just getting into heaven.
It is about arriving at this place of “rest” here and now.
The second key to entering into this place is to obey the voice of God.
It was the Israelites disobedience that stopped them from entering into this place.
What is REST?
I had a look at what it represented and found the
best way to explain what “rest” is, was to use an analogy.
Rest is likened to a home.
A home is more than just the place you sleep at night.
It represents security, comfort, relaxation, peace.
Itʼs this idea that you can come home, switch off, be yourself, relax and be at ease.
As you know we recently moved house, and they say that moving house is one of the top stressful things that people do.
This never made sense to me as it shouldn’t be that hard - all you are doing is taking your things and putting them in a new place?
But when we know that a home is more than just a place where you put your stuff you can appreciate the stress that comes with moving home.
It took us about 3 weeks to “settle in” to our house.
This is the same idea.
When we are in that place of rest we can live relaxed, secure and with an inner peace.
The idea of being at rest is not that you arenʼt busy or
working, but that in the midst of being busy and working there is a “peace that surpasses all understanding”.
Rest is a condition of our heart, it is the place that God wants to get us to.
More than just free from stress or hard work, but free from the affects of these things in our life.
“God wants to do so much more than change your situation, he wants to change your heart”.
When we are living by faith and obedience to the voice of God and the word of God we enter into this place of rest.
“In the condition of rest, the faithful believer experiences the exhilaration of creativity and productivity; stress and anxiety are minimized; joy lifts the spirit above the waves of normal frustrations and a holy purpose stimulates a vitality that is not overwhelmed by difficulties. Serenity and laughter are the marks of being in the place of rest. The rest of God is not cessation from activity, but a peace within the toil.”
Situations and circumstances can be so overwhelming, but it is so important for us to keep trusting, keep obeying and
God will lead you into this place.
“Peace and rest in the midst of lifeʼs continuation are indications of the maturing people of God.”
If you are in this season let me encourage you to keep trusting, keep obeying because God is maturing you.
These seasons of unrest keep us humble, they keep us grounded and relying on God.
I believe God allows these seasons in our lives to grow us, but it shouldnʼt be somewhere where we stay stuck.
The Israelites kept themselves in this place because they never learned to trust God.
If youʼve been in this place for a while you need to ask God; “what are you trying to teach me”.
Maybe there are things that heʼs told you to give up or to take on that you havenʼt.
I think more than ever our lives are busy and full and hectic. It is more important that ever before that we allow God to lead us into this promised land - we can only get there by trusting and obeying his voice.