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"My Yoke Is Easy..."
by Susan Gurney
5/04/2013 / Christian Living
"Yoke", as used in the Bible, often implies being in bondage to another, or subject to another's rule or demands. A yoke of oxen was subject to the farmer's guiding hand when plowing a field. Sometimes, even in this day, poor farmers in third world countries must carry the yoke upon their own shoulders to plow their land and eke a meager living from the soil.
The writer of the book of Lamentations speaks of being bound by a yoke from God that is so heavy that it saps his strength. He figuratively relates that this yoke had been constructed from the sins of himself and his people. They had turned their backs on the Lord for too long, and now they were besieged by an enemy that God was about to allow to carry them away to captivity. Yet the writer still had hope in God, knowing He was the only one that could save them. He knew that the lucky ones were those who would bear that yoke of bondage at a young age, for they would grow to truly appreciate God's steadfast love and faithfulness in their older years and would see the value of obedience to God after suffering the punishment for the sinfulness of previous generations.
In Jesus' day, the Israelites who heard Him say, "...my yoke is easy and my burden
is light," were suffering under another bondage--the "yoke" of Roman rule. They did not have the "freedom" they desired. They thought Jesus had come to literally set them free from human domination. However, what Jesus promised them--what He promises us today--is freedom to choose to live abundant lives within the constraints of His "easy yoke", weighted down with a "light burden" that He helps us carry. His "burden" is basically the same as what His Father God wished of the Old Testament Israelites: to live holy, obedient lives pleasing to Him. With Jesus' death and resurrection, all Christian believers can now accomplish that with the help of the Holy Spirit!
However, it is truly sad when we Christians weave our feelings of guilt into yokes and place them on our own backs...when we presume to know more than God, and "punish" ourselves for our "sins" rather than take on Christ's yoke of forgiveness which He promised would be "easy" and "light". When we do this to ourselves, we sap our own strength--God doesn't have anything to do with it! If this is the case with you, then shed the heavy yoke of guilt that you have made for yourself--or that you are trying to place upon another's back--and, as Paul says in Galatians 5:1b: "Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
What does God's Word, the Bible, say about this?
Lamentations 1:14a "My sins have been bound into a yoke; by his hands they were woven together. They have come upon my neck and the Lord has sapped my strength." NIV
Lamentations 3:26-27 "...it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young." NIV
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.'" NIV
John 8:31b-32, 33b-34 "...Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' '(we) have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?' Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.'" NIV
Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." NIV
Now read the following Bible passages in your favorite version of the Bible:
Lamentations 1:14 and 3:21-33
Galatians 4:1-11 and 5:1, 13-15
Susan Gurney writes devotionals, poetry, short stories, memoirs, and nonfiction on family history, faith and nature. She has experience writing/editing church and family newsletters. Find Susan at http://ssimonsgurney.christianblogsites.com/blog/ Copyright 2013 Susan Simons Gurney
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