Under the yoke

castle-671449_640Jeremiah 27:12: To Zedekiah king of Judah I spoke in like manner: “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people and live. (ESV)

Yoke is restraining, it also dictates direction of movement and effort. It retrains from movement in certain directions and releases to another. It focuses the energy of the animals under it, making them productive.

Restraining

We should put ourselves under the control of the word of God. If the word cannot control you then you are out of control and about to get lost, if not already lost.

If the sheep, in the parable of the lost sheep that Jesus gave, had not be distracted from following the shepherd then he will not have been lost and his life in danger (Luke 15:1-6).

David wrote: the lord is my shepherd, he leads me in the path of righteousness (Psalm 23). If the fear of God does not guide you, guide your action, then you will lose your birthright, as it happened to Reuben.

Joseph was guided by the fear of God (yoked to it) in the land of Egypt where he was a slave. He refused to yield to the sexual demands of his master’s wife, though it lead to an immediate deterioration of his situation as he landed in the prison, going down one more step on the social ladder.

When the equation balanced out at the end of the day, his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, stood as two tribes in Israel, and he got the portion of the firstborn, though he was the eleventh of twelve sons of Jacob (1Chronicles 5:1-2).

But his eldest brother Reuben, who is described as unstable as water, i.e. unpredictable, lost out on his birthright. He allowed his sexual appetite to get the better of him, sleeping with his father’s wife. He was not under control though he was a nice guy. He was not strict with himself. Paul however said he is strict with himself. Paul said that he puts his body under so that after he had made a lot of efforts, after he has preached to others, he will not be disqualified from getting the prize, will not be a cast away, relegated to the background after serving so far and so long. In order words, he was saying: “I do not want to be a nice but out of control guy (1Corinthians 9:27).”

Esau was the older son of Isaac but at the end of the day, the birthright was not his because he allowed his appetite to control him. He lost the vision of the future because he allowed the hunger of the moment to take him captive.

Unrestrained appetite will be your undoing. It was David’s undoing. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, murdered her husband and tried all he could, to bury the issue by all manner of subterfuge. In the end, he was judged. God said that the sword will not depart from his house. His household will be tumultuous, without peace, because he lost control.

Jesus said that we should take on his yoke on his neck, and learn of him. He said: come to me, all those who labour and are heavy laden and we will be given rest. This is when we put his yoke on us and reject any other yokes. The right yoke is the yoke of the fear of God.

Releasing

God complained against some prophets in the Old Testament that they deliver a message he has not sent them on, motivated by the desire to please the people, to be accepted or to make merchandise of them.

God said if they had taken their time to stay in his counsel they will communicate his will to the people (Jeremiah 23:21-22).

The will of God is the direction we should go and we show we agree when we stir the wheel of “the car” of our life there. With that, we will get to the divine destination. That you are taking a particular direction means you have ignored other paths. That means the yoke of the will of God at once restrain or release you. You are restricted by the will of God over your life. You cannot do just what you want.

You are restricted by your assigned gender among other things. Those who want to change their gender or be genderless are rejecting the restraints of God. He wants you to go in a specific gender direction and you have to align with him. Not aligning with God means you are on a path of judgement. The effeminate will not inherit the kingdom of God, the bible says (1Corinthians 6:9). It is that serious. It is not just a matter of what you prefer. Jesus said he will have preferred to not go all the way to the death on the cross but at the end of the day he yielded, to the yoke (Matthew 26:29), which releases him to be a life-giving spirit after he experiences the pain of death (1Corinthians 15:45). He said to God: not my will (restraining) but yours be done (releasing).

The direction you are to go manifests in the gifts you have been given, the special abilities and training you have been allowed to have, and the devil’s agenda is to derail you, hence the barrage of temptation, and difficulties he throws along your path to your destiny.

There are gifts and talents, divine abilities to indicate your part in the body of Christ, your function, as you move along in the Christian journey (Romans 12:1-8). It is like an athlete knowing his lane. If he does not then he will waste his energy running. There will be no reward for his effort. He will be disqualified.

Paul said he does not fight as one beating the air, without focus (1Corinthians 9:26). He moves yoked to the will of God, moving with an overriding sense of divine purpose, which excludes seeking to please men. He said: If I still pleased men, I will not be a servant of God (Galatians 1:10).

He does not want to waste his time. He has been called to be an apostle, gifted with that gift. He said that he labours more than the other apostles but that it not him, it is the grace of God (1Corinthians 15:10). His energy is accurately channelled. Though on the path of the will he faced some difficulties, persecution, he reminds himself that he is a mission for a great king, and so does not give up. He reminds himself that there is at the end of his life a great reward waiting for him (2Timothy 4:7-8). After a lifetime of going in the “restrictive” direction of the will of God, in obedience to him, he said: I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith. There are many things he did not do but he did one thing, forgetting what is behind and stretching forward to what lies ahead, in the high call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13).

Jesus said you cannot call him lord and not do what he says (Luke 6:46). The yoke on the neck of an oxen is used to guide it in a specific direction and ensures that it is effective at the end of the day for the purpose of the farmer wants to accomplish. We are made for God’s pleasure (Revelation 4:11), and by putting ourselves under his yoke, we avoid the enemies trap and we get to be effective in the business of our Lord.

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