God’s work in the physical world was finished at creation. His work in the spiritual world was finished through the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
We have been created to live in God’s rest. He has created everything for us. The work was God’s part, entering into His rest is our part. We must be diligent to make sure our efforts are focused on entering into His rest, not on continuing in our own works or strength.
We are to live by grace, not by our own works and ambition. The works were finished at the foundation of the world. Everything must now be founded upon the work God has already completed and upon our diligence to enter into His rest.
Under the Old Covenant, the priests were forbidden to wear anything that would cause sweat as they served before the altar. Why was this? Because sweat was a symbol of the curse, when God declared back in the Garden that man would work by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:19). God was pointing His people toward the New Covenant, when His Son’s redemptive work would provide them with the grace and ability to fulfill His work in His strength.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you 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” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV).
Notice first that Jesus promises rest to us when we bring our load of care to Him. This is imparted rest, freely given to anyone who will receive. Then He tells us how to find rest. This rest is learned by taking His yoke upon us. This is the lasting rest that enables us as His disciple to continually handle the weight of the work He has called us to do by drawing on the resource of His strength.
Jesus said that this ability to find lasting rest comes by taking His yoke. The picture He paints is of a double yoke, used to plow a field with two oxen. When a farmer trained a young ox, he yoked him to an older and fully trained ox. That young ox may have wanted to sit down or run to the right or left. But the yoke on his neck that linked him to the older ox held him to the speed and direction that the old ox knew was best.
When our lives come under the lordship of Jesus, His Word becomes the final authority to us. God then determines where and how fast we go, not us. Using the analogy of the double yoke, Jesus taught that this is the key to lasting rest and to the power we need to produce results.
The rest Jesus imparts is wonderful for the immediate relief of some terrible situation. But the true disciple doesn’t live for those special imparted moments of rest; rather, he learns and embraces the life of rest.
Living by the covenant of grace, where Jesus’ strength is governing and directing us, is the key to bringing glory to Him and not to ourselves. Our part is to enter into His works and learn the laws of His Kingdom.
It all begins with a covenant: the covenant of grace.