Today’s favorite comes from Matthew’s gospel and my friend Lee, chose verse 28. I have added the surrounding verses to give a better picture of our Lord’s meaning and scope.
Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to me, all 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.”
Jesus’ words bring comfort to our hearts and minds as He recognizes our humanness and the difficulties of this world in which we live. Consider the Jews Jesus is addressing when His words were spoken. They were harasses and overburdened by the religious leaders of their day. They had constant rules and regulations which they need to abide by be considered faithful. Most of these were man-made rules that were a great burden to the people and caused them great distress. They were also citizens of an occupied country. Rome was a formidable ruler that demanded much from those they enslaved. They were also living in troubled times and families struggled for existence- food, shelter and peace. Jesus’ words of peace and promised rest were music to their weary ears.
Is it not so with us? Do you long to hear words of comfort from your Savior? Jesus promises He is gentle, loving and by coming to Him He will make your burdens lighter. Belonging to Jesus will not add to your burdens, but will free you spiritually to be able to rise above the earthly worries as you cling to Him. Jesus promises belonging to Him means He will walk beside us and help us carry the burdens we have in life. If need be at times, He will carry us. Resting in Jesus is the safest place to be. In 1 Peter 5:10 Peter spoke these words to believers, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Jesus’ rest is a rest that restores, strengthens, confirms and helps establish us in faith. Praise God!
Thank you Lee for pointing us to this verse. May we be reminded of Christ’s command, COME! You cannot receive the blessing of rest and restoration unless you come to Him.
And the journey continues….2 Kings, again. I love this book of history as God has so much to teach us within its chapters. Chapter 6 relates the story of what happened to Elisha when the king of Arman came after him. The king was at war with Israel and told his officers where they were going to camp. Elisha was forewarned by God and warned the king of Israel. The king of Aram was enraged and thought he had a traitor in the midst of his army. When the soldier told him it wasn’t them but the prophet Elisha who was relaying even the words spoken in his bedroom to Israel’s king, the king of Aram sent horses and chariots to come and kill Elisha. Elisha’s servant saw the army coming and ran to tell Elisha in fear. Here is Elisha’s response and what happened.
2 Kings 6:15-23. “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”17And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
Elisha was aware of God’s protective presence that was unseen by the servant until God opened his eyes. So it is with us. God has given us His angels to protect us even though we are totally unaware. Psalm 91:11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;” God is always with us and will never leave us nor forsake us! Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” If you are in a difficult situation, pray and ask God to open your heart and eyes to feel and see His protection. Always remember that God is with you 24/7!
The last part of this story shows God’s mercy and compassion. The soldiers were struck with blindness, lead to the foreign city, their eyes opened and then treated with kindness and mercy just as if they were captives. The end result was the king of Aram stopped raiding and attacking Israel and God’s people were protected. James reminds us of this truth in James 2:12-13 that mercy triumphs over judgement. “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. This is how we are to treat one another, erring on the side of mercy and allowing God to be glorified through our merciful actions and attitudes.
There is one other incident from 2 Kings that I recall often as I feel it totally applies to our lives today. King Hezekiah was a good king and followed the Lord. He was attacked by Sennecherib the king of Assyria who was threatening to invade Jerusalem. Hezekiah knew their army was not strong enough to repel the attack. Sennecherib sent an envoy with a letter demanding their surrender and in it he mocked the God of Israel. Here is what Hezekiah did. 2 Kings 19:14-19
“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. 17 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”
God replied through the prophet Isaiah and foretold the coming destruction of Assyria. God also sent encouragement to Hezekiah and said the would be saved. 2 Kings 19:32-36 “Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria: ‘He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. 33 By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the Lord. 34 I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’”
35 That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.
Why this story resonates so much with me is because Hezekiah was at the ‘end of his rope’ and laid his problem before Almighty God. He knew by faith that God was greater and that no other god was more powerful. God spared the faithful Israelites and the Assyrians left in defeat without a shot being heard. When I feel I’m at the end of my rope, I remember this story and practice laying my burdens before Him. I claim His promise in 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Both of these stories show how amazing our God is and how He will fight for us if we look for His presence, and humble ourselves before Him. May the all seeing God who can victoriously fight any battle be with you today.