6 min 16 sec reading time
Let's face it, you and I are kindergarteners when it comes to the Word of God. You may think I know a lot about the Bible, but my friends I am incredibly ignorant when it comes to da'at Elohim (knowledge of God). I can tell you all about it, but my experience is far from what it should be.
The reason I share this is so you can come to a recognition that there is more for you. So that you can come entirely under the shelter of his wings, into the holy place of our good Father in order to KNOW HIM, for that is what this kingdom journey is all about.
That is why Paul can say, "My credentials" [which were impressive] "are nothing but a big pile of cow dung. I consider it all rubbish when it comes to the unsurpassed glory of knowing Messiah and sharing in the fellowship of his suffering. There is nothing that can compare to that."
When Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me," we all say, "that is a hard saying," even though he went on to say, "my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Why? Because we have never really taken it on consistently. It is tough to bend your neck in the early stages, to bow your will in submission to him. It is challenging to get up every morning, put on the yoke, go out into the field and start plowing. But, and this is important, you pass from difficulty to joy when you learn to live in it.
When I went to the ballet for the first time, I was overwhelmed; the lead dancer would leap and seemed to fly. It was breathtaking, magnificent. He was caught up in the joy, the power, and the thrill of it. Let me ask you something: when he started, was it joy unspeakable and full of glory? No, it was blood, sweat, and tears; it was muscle spasms, broken toes, etc. But he was faithful. He practiced and practiced until it is not difficult for him; instead it is an exquisite joy.
Do you know why we don't know that the yoke of Jesus is light and easy to bear? Because we never put it on, and put it on, and put it on. We start—just like people on a diet—with the best of intentions. We hear a good sermon, go home determined, get up the next morning and pray. The following morning something comes up, and we say, "I will do it later." You know what happens after that: we stop, then we start and we stop. Our only experience of the kingdom of God is broken toes and liniment.
Yet you were saved to know the joy of soaring and dancing to the Holy Spirit's music, to know the pleasure of intimacy with Jesus, to know his unsurpassed glory and the fellowship of his sufferings.
But we say, "Wait, wait, wait—we want to be followers but at a distance. We want to believe we want to have the faith token, but we don't want to get up right by the fire lest we are burned." But the one who knows that the yoke is easy is the one who says, "Send your refining fire Lord. Purge my heart O God, search me out so that I may know you more."
That is the kind of knowledge the Bible holds out as a birthright for you and me.
Listen to Psalm 131,
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
This beautiful image is of one who is no longer arrogant and proud, but in humility is content just to know God. The picture here is of a child. Babies are cute but demanding; they must be nursed; they must be attended to constantly. But this child is weaned, he is in his mother's arms, not because he wants anything other than just to be with his mother.
Some of you have heard me talk about Richard Wurmbrand and the sufferings he went through in Romania for his faith. He got to a point where he wrote some incredibly radical poetry. The essence of it was the same thing that Job said, "Though you slay me, I will still love you. I will still have my hope in you: though Jesus was a liar, though he was filled with demons, though the cross is a hoax, though he never rose from the dead, though all of this is baloney—I still love you, God!"
Most of us Christians relate to God only because of what he has done for us, what he will do for us, or what we need him to do for us.
We have seldom got to the place where we quiet our souls and are content just to be with God. That is a precious thing, and when you get there, you can put your hope in the LORD, like the third and last verse of Psalm 131, which can be translated, "O Israel wait upon the LORD, both now and forever."
The word wait here isn't wishful thinking or some imaginary kind of fanciful idea. No, this is the kind of hopeful waiting based on a sure foundation; it is a confident expectation. Based on what? The fact that God is a God of grace (hesed), and he is faithful (emunah). You can rest from your distress and anxiety by basking in the presence of God.
We can be so consumed with the urgency of our lives that we miss the important things, we miss the joy unspeakable. When people tell me they never hear from God, I say, "Are you listening?" Hearing begins with the Word of God.
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1-2)
This text is so exciting because, in two verses, you have four different names for God!
The Hebrew says, "He who dwells in the shelter of Elyon will rest in the shadow of El Shaddai." The Hebrew word shad is used for a woman's breast. El Shaddai is the God who is all-sufficient; he is the God who nourishes, sustains, and is all you need. If you dwell in the shelter of El Elyon, you will be nourished, you will rest under the shadow of El Shaddai, and then you will say of Yahweh (the LORD) that he is your Elohim (God) in whom you are trusting.
Some of you are in great distress, seemingly alone in your pain. Hear the Word of the LORD—your peace is in the shadow of the Almighty God. You are being elevated out of your distress as you come into a deeper relationship with El Elyon. As you submit to the covenants and the will of Yahweh, he will be your Elohim. Let's continue in Psalm 91,
"For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
"He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
"You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
"nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday." (vv 4-6)
Why? Because dear friends,
"You have made the LORD (Yahweh) your dwelling place—
the Most High (El Elyon), who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent." (vv 9-10)
It makes me tremble to think that I can go through my whole life teaching God's Word and never come into his overshadowing presence. It is frightening because it happens all the time, our so-called religious giants who are, in reality, spiritual midgets. That our gifts can be esteemed by others while we remain ignorant of the knowledge of God, terrifies me.
My friends, there is so much more to the Word of God than just a creed, than only intellectual knowledge, than just skill in studying and teaching. God is the indwelling God, and he desires you to find your rest, your contentment, your peace under his overshadowing arms. He will be your peace, your deliverer, your healer, your all-sufficient one. If you will exhibit faithfulness and seek him out with all your heart, you will find him.
Paul says in Galatians 5:6 that what matters is not Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free but rather, faith working through love, because of the faithfulness of our Yoke-Bearer, Jesus the Messiah. If you want to know what the bottom line is for Paul, it is faithfulness expressing itself in love.
That is what God was all about in the person of Jesus, and that is what you and I are supposed to be all about. We are to show forth the faithful love of God (hesed) in our faithfulness (emunah) for his name's sake.
This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice. Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore his audio seminars.