God’s Revelation to His Children
Like Jesus, we too can praise the Father, who is the Lord of heaven and earth. We can praise Him first because He is Lord. He is in control. He is not disturbed at what has happened or is happening nor is He wondering what is next to come. He is Lord.
Second, we can praise the Father because we are included in the moniker of “little children” if we too are recognizing God as our Father, not like the “wise” of this world, this age, who are both mocking God and those who call Jesus Christ their King, but also recklessly and many time ruthlessly seeking to control the world through political or material means. Thankfully, they are blind and we see because this is what the Father is pleased to do.
God’s Living Example
As little children, let me remind you of the theme of these messages of God as our Father, with His character revealed through the dynamics of family relationships, looking one last time to Matthew 7:11:
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
So we come now to my 5th and final message carrying this theme of examining God as our Father. And, if you’ve been keeping track, you will know that I’ve taken snapshots of the fathering that happens at different ages as a means of highlighting characteristics of God’s character in ‘growing’ us.
In the last message we looked at the question of submission of the will as the true test of teenagers and how God has given us as parents the responsibility to help them learn submission both by our example and by our rule in the home. Today, I’m moving on to what we could call the age of adulthood, which we may associate with our children moving out of their teen years. The key distinction of being an adult is understanding that responsible work is what separates them from their carefree teenage years. As Jeremiah records in Lamentations 3:27, “It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.”
If you are honest about your sin — even those of you having been raised in godly Christian homes, then you can assure your hearts with Jesus’ promise. “I will give you rest.” I will give you rest. I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart. And then I will give you a call to action.
And here in Jesus’ command to us to come, he adds “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” In mentioning my text to Ty, he remarked that it was common for an inexperienced or young ox to be yoked with a more mature and stronger ox to train the younger ox. But before we explore the nature and purpose of the yoke, we must remember that Biblically, we don’t have an option about a yoke, only which yoke based on Romans 6:16-18.
Nature of the Yoke
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
As parents raising our children, we reach a glorious horizon when our children, the fruit of our labors, are ready and willing to take up a yoke with us — a yoke of purpose to serve side by side in our Father’s kingdom.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5″
So, what is the purpose? What is our yoke hooked to? In John 3, Jesus tells us plainly that He came not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. And, we know that this salvation of the world was more than just a rinse and dry cycle. Jesus describes the process in terms of growing degrees: a small seed growing into a tree, yeast pervading through three measures of dough, a kingdom that grows but not always visibly or according to “worldly” measures of power and prestige.
And this kingdom is not about territory but about people. Paul tells us that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Knees and tongues are the property of people. Peter tells us that this kingdom is made up of stones, living stones, people, all being built up into a holy temple.
Just as the stones on the temple mount were hewn and sawn for fit, we as living stones are to undergo the same process by learning from Jesus. His saving the world involves the fashioning of us into perfect stones that are conformed to His image. Doing what He is doing just as He does just what the Father is saying and doing. This is God’s purpose for us such that when we are like Jesus we will in fact be a perfect temple calling attention to God’s goodness, grace and glory for the all the world to see.
Slowing Down the Oxen
In closing, let’s just review one thing to avoid. From Deuteronomy 22:10, we read, “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together” and its parallel verse in 1 Corinthians 6:14
We have only Christ’ yoke to take on. And when we take this on, we are rejecting all other yokes. Those yokes are by nature, corrupt and of the darkness. Christ’ yoke is that of holiness, light and truth. All other yokes must be rejected. True wisdom “hates” wickedness. Don’t be deceived. When we try and hang onto things of the world, things that our consciences reject but which we still cling are choking our progress. They are tangling the lines of the harness and tripping up our feet. The extra weight is heavy and makes us like dead weight to the Lord Jesus as He not only pulls the cart but drags us (sometimes unwillingly) along.
Our children transition into adults when they take up the responsibility of working for themselves and their families. Jesus invites us to take up His yoke and learn from Him instead of shouldering this burden under the yoke of slavery to sin. He teaches us that His yoke is easy and light as we are learning the will of His Father who sets before us salvation and true joy. Together with the Lord Jesus we are learning to be God’s children tasked with calling all of His children to join with us in this yoke.
And finally, God warns us to cast away every sin that clings and tangles looking to the Lord Jesus for your direction with every thought and move anticipating His joy at the the completion of the task.