Formulas are all around us. Sometimes we call them recipes or directions. Many of us have experienced the problems that come from not adding the right ingredients to a cake recipe or making a wrong turn when trying to follow a map. The results may be a great disappointment in either case, as well as wasted time.

In His word, the Bible, God has given His children a formula for rest.

[W.E. Vine's Expository Bible Dictionary: "to give intermission from labor, to give rest, to refresh.]

However, too often, we misunderstand the formula and like in the examples above, are not happy with the results. In this study we are going to examine God's formula for rest in its three steps in an effort to obtain the desired end results.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and 
are heavy laden, and I will give you 
rest." (Mat 11:28 NKJV)

The "labour and heavy laden" of this verse must be distinguished from the "light burden" of verse 30. Here in verse 28 the Lord is speaking of the burdens of this world (Heb 12:1), the heartache and disappointments of our sins (Gal 6:7), hurts caused by others upon us and/or the circumstances of living in a world where satan is the god (2 Cor4:4). 

Note that Christ encourages us to come to HIM, not to religion. A personal and active relationship with HIM is prerequisite to "rest." But where is He? 

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7 NKJV)

God is always "in the light." Sin is darkness. When a child of God walks in the darkness of sin, he cannot have fellowship with God. He cannot really bring his burdens to the Lord and find rest while continuing to walk in darkness. Thank God there is forgiveness and restitution of fellowship with God for His children...

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

Often, a Christian may stop in his thinking at this verse and fail to complete the formula. We pray and tell the Lord of our burdens and ask Him to remove them. The burdens persist and we are perplexed as to why God has not kept His word. Some may lose faith while others may take on some form of denial, and still others may be angry with God...and all the while it is our fault! It is like the woman who used baking soda instead of baking powder or the man who turned left instead of right and wondered that the end result were not as expected. It is essential that we apply all of God's formula. So, now see step 2 in verse 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." (Mat 11:29 NKJV)

If you were to ask what the "yoke" was in the present circumstances of many people, they would tell you it is the problem(s) or burden(s) they are having. They may even tell you that the problems are God's testing of them. To quickly understand that this is incorrect, imagine in your mind an ox pulling a plow. What is the burden and what is the yoke? The yoke is that part of the harness equipment that is there to ease the pulling of the burden. The yoke makes the burden more manageable. The yoke is not the burden.


The second step of God's formula is to take upon us His "yoke." In order to identify His "yoke" we should ask the question, what is it that helps us manage the burdens of this life? Several verses will help to provide the answer.

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world; our faith." (1 John 5:4 NKJV)

"above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." (Eph 6:16 NKJV)

"Faith" is the God given "yoke" that helps us pull and manage the burdens of this life, whatever they may be. But here again, the Christian may mis- understand what God means when He uses the word "faith" in the Bible. It is NOT our emotions, our thoughts nor our wishes. In fact we are clearly admonish- ed to not follow these...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths." (Pro 3:5-6)

Here is God's definition of "faith"... 

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."(Rom 10:17) We may only have true Biblical faith in what God has said. Anything else is our imagination or wishes and will not work in God's formula for "Rest."

Part 2 of Step 2 requires that we "learn of Him." There is much indeed to learn of Christ but in verse 29 He focuses it for us to the fact that He is "gentle (meek) and lowly in heart." Again, a number of verses help us to understand what is meant here. The entire earthy life of the Lord Jesus Christ was one of sub-mission and obedience to the Father. In this He lived the perfect righteous life we could not live, the righteousness that is imputed (put to our account) the moment we believe on Him (Romans 4:24).

"... The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." (John 8:29 NKJV)

"...Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42 NKJV)

Up to this point God's formula for rest instructs us to bring our heavy burdens imposed on us by our sins, the hurts of others and those of this sin cursed earth, to Him. Then we are to take the "yoke" of faith in sub-mission, as Christ was gentle and lowly in heart. This brings us to the final and necessary step in God's formula for rest, verse 30.

"For My yoke is easy and My 
burden is light." (Mat 11:30 NKJV)

After Israel's defeat at Ai where they had gone in their own pride without consulting God and with sin in the camp, Joshua was on his face before the Lord in prayer.

"So the LORD said to Joshua: "Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face?"" (Josh 7:10 NKJV)

The final element in God's formula for rest is to get up and get to work! It may sound contradictory, but God's ways are not our ways (Isa 55:8-9). God has given each of His children talents (1Cor 12:18) thus they are equipped to serve Him with these talents. This is His "light burden" for them.

God is in effect telling us to "Get up and get busy" doing that for which God has equipped us...even when we have heavy burdens of this world weighing us down. By faith and humility even when we can't sort out and understand the "heavy burdens," we are instructed to "Get up and get busy," as we trust Him with the burdens we have brought to Him.

by Weyman Zelder

Back to Listing of Bible Studies