They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

What Jesus Was Saying in Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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.”
– Matthew 11:28-30

I’m learning more about this well-known quote from Jesus as I study more closely the Old Testament and culture of the time. I used to think that in this verse he only meant that he felt sorry for me and that he would give me rest if I was tired and burdened by my heavy load. As it turns out there is a bit more here to learn about what Jesus was saying in this often quoted scripture.



First of all in Jesus day, the main rabbis all had a system or set of beliefs that allowed you to interpret God’s word through their system. Each one’s system was a liitle different than the others. This system was called their “yoke of Torah”. Jesus’ “yoke” or way of interpreting scripture was the Shema, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Jesus said this in Matthew 22:37-40 when asked what the most important commandments were. Every situation in life was to be looked at through that filter. Jesus is saying in the Matthew 11 passage, “I have a new way to look at keeping the Torah and it won’t be as burdensome as what the Pharisees teach. It may be hard to do, but it is simple to understand.” Secondly, he is making some new profound messianic claims in this passage. These claims can only be seen if you had an intricate knowledge of the Hebrew Bible like they did Let’s look at some of those.

  1. “I will give you rest” – look at Exodus 33:14 when God told Moses – “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” The Jews would have known and picked up on that verse from the Torah instantly. He will give us rest?, is he claiming to be God?
  2. “You will find rest for your souls.” – look at Jeremiah 6:16 – when the Lord says,”look for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus was claiming to be the ancient paths to God and if they would walk that ancient path, they would find rest for their souls. This was another obvious messianic claim.
  3. For “I am gentle and humble in heart” – look at Numbers 12:3. “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” The Jews knew the words of the Torah in Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18 where God says to Moses, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him… I will put my words in his mouth”. Philip told Nathanael in John 1:45 – “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote.” And Jesus said in John 5:46, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” So, again, Jesus was claiming to be God by quoting Old Testament passages that hinted at his deity. He was the prophet like Moses.

If you knew your Hebrew Bible, when you heard Jesus make the statement he made that is recordedin Matthew, you knew he was saying. “I am the one who was foretold about, I am the Messiah, God’s son that you have been looking for .”

Learning these few cultural facts and studying the scriptures that Jesus would have memorized gives us a much fuller meaning of the words he spoke in Matthew. Now, I am looking at everything Jesus said and trying to trace it back to the Old Testament roots. Amen.

Don’t Cut the Corners of Your Field

Fields” ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God….”
— Leviticus 19:9-10
See also:
Deuteronomy 24:19-21, Luke 12:13-21, Ruth Ch. 2

I wanted to write down some thoughts on giving based on some Scripture that you might not have been aware of in the past, and ones that aren’t normally used whenever we talk about God’s commands to give. In Leviticus 19:9-10, right in the middle of a bunch of sacrificial, dietary and personal conduct laws, God tells the Israelites not to cut the corners of their fields. They were also not to pick all their grapes when they harvested, but were to leave some for the poor and alien. In both cases, they were to leave some of the excess for the poor, aliens, and the widows. The people who had more would take care of the people who had less.

If you read the story of Ruth, especially chapter two, you will see how this plays out in real life in Israel. Those that had nothing were allowed to go in behind the harvesters and pick up what they could to help them through their lean times.

"I am the vine; you are the branches"

If you closely read the Leviticus and Deuteronomy passages, you will notice that God didn’t specify how much of their corners to leave or how many grapes to not pick up. He didn’t give an exact size or amount. He just said, “don’t cut the corners”. You could tell how generous a man was by the size of the corners of his field. You could leave little corners and still be in compliance with the law or you could round them off big and wide and leave a huge amount in the field. The size of a man’s heart was determined by the size of his corners. A person’s generosity was very public and was on display for the whole community to see. Big field, little corners, “he’s stingy”; little field, big corners, “he’s a generous man”. You can tell from the Ruth story that Boaz was a generous man. He was willing to share his plenty with the aliens and widows.

What does God want us to learn from this command not to cut the corners of our fields? How does this corner cutting apply to us city dwellers and non-farmers? First, listen to 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Then listen to II Corinthians 9:6-7 (and read the rest of chapter 9, and read also chapter 8 where generosity is encouraged). If you examine these verses and all the cross-references that go with them, you start to realize that God has established a very important concept here that plays a huge part in our Christian walk. It is obvious that he wants us to be generous, but why and how?

The first part of the why is answered by Deuteronomy 8:10-18 and Deuteronomy 26:1-12. He wants us to be constantly reminded that it is God who provides all our needs and not our power or the strength of our hands. God is the source of our blessings, not our hard work (Psalm 127:1-3). We are taught in America to be rugged individualists, self-sufficient, self-made men. This is a tough concept for us to realize that it is not ours to keep and hold on to. We are taught to “get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the lid and poison the rest”. The Bible teaches the opposite; not to put our hope in our wealth, our possessions, our retirement plan etc. , “but to put our hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

The second part of the why is found in Malachi 3:6-12. Being generous in giving is God’s plan to take care of the less fortunate. If we are not giving and being generous, we are keeping God’s plan from working. We’re not supposed to hold on to it! We are robbing God if we don’t give generously. To sum up why God wants to give; 1)we need to be constantly reminded that he is providing for us and it’s not ours to keep and 2) the less fortunate need what we are supposed to give because that’s how his system works. If we don’t give we are keeping the system from working.

How do we apply “cutting the corners of our field” to our everyday life? In your business, make your corners big. Share with the people who work with you. Realize that God has allowed you to make a profit and the people who work with you are counting on your generosity to survive and also be blessed. Another avenue to having big corners is in the area of tipping. Be generous as you recognize the need in the people that serve you and wait on you in your daily life.

Another way to apply this principle is to tell your children how much you give and what you give to. If you want to teach them to be generous, show them how generous you are. If you want to raise stingy kids, be stingy yourself. Teaching your children well is a huge part of making sure God’s principles are kept in motion.

What an exciting lesson to learn! To learn to be a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:6-13) is one of life’s greatest blessings! Make the corners of your field big! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure (Luke 6:38). You will be a huge blessing and will be hugely blessed in the process. God has made us a deal we can’t refuse. In Malachi 3:10 God says try me and see if I won’t throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you won’t have enough room for it! Today would be a great day to start leaving those big corners! Are you ready for the blessing? Amen!

Health & Wealth: The Test We Never Pass

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.

— Deuteronomy 8:10-19

Of all the tests that God gave the Israelites, and of all our tests in life, the one we have the toughest time with here in w:st=”on”America is what is said in Deut 8:10-19. When you get there and you have all you want, you’ll forget me for sure, is what God is saying.

In the West we always assume that pain and suffering are the only tests. Our test is affluence! We live this wonderful lifestyle where we have so much food in the cupboard that we have to decide which style or flavor that we want tonight (Chinese, Italian, Mexican.) Not exactly a manna type situation is it? We have 2 cars in the garage, which if you have one you are richer than 80% of people in the world, with 2, richer than 99% of world. A lot of us not only have our own home but a vacation home, or at least we think we are entitled to a 2 wk luxury vacation home somewhere.

Tell me, that in our affluence, we don’t forget God. We don’t need Him for our daily sustenance – our power, and the strength of our hand produce it for us, says Deuteronomy.

It hit me as I was thinking about this, what does this say about the “Health and Wealth gospel” that so many churches are promoting. This can be one of the worst things that can happen to you and one of the hardest tests to pass. We are asking God for affluence and that is the very thing that leads to our downfall! The tests in the desert are easier than this because with nothing it is a lot easier to be dependent on God. I was just wondering if you had ever thought of your life style as a test, a test that is just as difficult, just as tough to overcome as some of the other things that we think of as God testing us. Food for thought and no pun intended.