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SIN: The only thing standing between God and man.
JESUS CHRIST: The only perfect One who paid for sin.
THE GOSPEL: The only record of Jesus’ life.
SALVATION: The only hope of man.
FAITH: Is only "saving faith" if it includes
The Word ''yoke" appears at least 63 times in 36 different articles in the KJV version of the Bible. A word used that many times should be studied, and a ministry using a "yoke" as a logo should have something to say about that. This seemed reason enough to write this article on the good, the bad, and the ugly yokes in the Scriptures.
In the Old Testament, the word "motah" is rendered ''yoke'' and means a "staff" (rod) or a "bar." These words are used figuratively of severe bondage, afflictions, or subjection (Lev. 26:13; 1 Kings 12:4; Isa. 47:6; Lam. <?1:14; <?3:27). In 1Samuel 11:7, I Kings 19:21 and Job 1:13, the word "tzemed" is used and signifies pair, as in two oxen yoked or coupled together. Its primary purpose was to bind the oxen to the traces by which they might draw the plough, etc. (Numbers 19:2; Deut.21:3). It was a curved piece of wood called an “0l." In the New Testament, the word "zugos," or various forms of the word, is used most often and denotes servitude (Matt. <?11:29, 30; Acts <?15:10 and Gal. 5:1). With this basic understanding, we can discuss The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
There are two reasons the yoke was chosen as our logo. The first and most obvious, to the student of the Bible, is Matt. 11:29-30 which reads, "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)." The other reason is that Paul referred to the saints as his "loyal yokefellow" as well as his "fellow workers" because they were working together for the cause of Christ. Both yokes are good, but I wish to address only the good yoke, spoken of in Matt. 11:29-30.
1. YOKED TO HIS WORK - In this text, words Jesus is inviting the disciples to become yoked with Him in a work to be done. The yoke signifies the service that Christ gives us to do, and therefore implies more than knowing His teaching. However, His teaching is an important part of His service because it is the means of knowing what He wishes done. Christ speaks of His teaching as though it's identical with His yoke.
2. YOKED TO HIS TEACHING - This is obvious by the words that follow, “and learn of me," as the Teacher who will Himself instructs those who take His yoke upon themselves (Col. I:7). He alone could teach it properly, and therefore from Him alone could they learn the character, which He possesses and desires all to develop.
3. YOKED TO HIS CHARACTER - "I am gentle and humble in heart." Observe His claim of gentleness, regarding the degree of submission to the yoke His Father has placed upon Him (The Cross). The statement "humble in heart' refers to His humanity. "He humbled himself and became obedient' (Phil. 2:9). The submission Christ portrays (Phil. 2:9) "shall obtain honor" (Prov. 29:23). We can participate in His Character.
4. YOKED TO HIS REST – “And you will find rest for your souls." Tired yokefellows are, at once, refreshed. Those accepting His service and teaching find future rest. The first rest is in terms of inner peace acquired by the knowledge that we are justified in Him, and the second is that of knowing the sanctifying process of His grace through His Spirit working within us. This yoke is good, and that's why Matt. <?11:30 states, "For my yoke is easy and my burden light." It is this good yoke we are encouraging all to enjoy in order to find rest for their souls.
THE BAD - The second yoke is spoken of in 2 Cor. 6:14 where we read "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” Being yoked in marriage, or even in business with an unbeliever is bad in that it can bring grief to the Christian and often brings frustration to the unbeliever. They find themselves pulling against each other rather, than pulling together.
1. NO SPIRITUAL YOKE - Verses 15 - 16 spell out the problem, "For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" These are good questions, and they make clear the reason the Scriptures warn against unions between the new nature and the old nature (saved and lost).
2. BAD BUT STILL YOKED - Paul writes to the Church at Corinth on matters of husbands who are married to unbelievers and says, "If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not separate from her." (1 Cor. 7:12). The yoke of believers with unbelievers is bad and be very burdensome, but it can be managed. Such a yoke need not cost a person his soul, though in many cases, It very well may. This yoke is not like the "good yoke" spoken of earlier, because it is not "easy" and gives no ''rest."
THE UGLY - The third yoke, the ugly yoke, is spoken of in Acts 15:10, "Now then why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved just as they are." This yoke is the yoke of the law, that is, trying to earn salvation by human performance.
1. AN UNBEARABLE YOKE - This yoke brings no comfort and is not easy; rather, it brings frustration and slavery. Paul tells us in Gal. 5: I "do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery, " and then discusses a portion of the Old Testament law they were being pressured to become subject to once again. It is unbearable; and for those who attempt to bear up under it, delusion may follow. We either admit, through sorrow, that we can't flawlessly obey the law; or we do the mental gymnastics, that is delusional, resulting in thinking that we can. It gets worse.
2. IT NULLIFIES THE YOKE OF CHRIST - Speaking of those who attempt to enslave Christians to the law, which is salvation by works, Paul says, "some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give into them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you." Nothing is more ugly than a religiosity with no gospel. If there is no gospel, there is no Christ, salvation, assurance or freedom. The real ugliness is seen in the words of Gal. 5:4, "You who are trying to be justified by law and have been alienated from Christ: you have fallen away from grace." That's as ugly as it gets."
CONCLUSION - Christ's yoke is easy and restful, bringing a change in character. The bad unequal yoke is adding to life's burdens and brings not the desired rest. The ugly yoke of bondage is deadly, causing one to fall from grace. Christ invites us saying, ''take my yoke."
Denny Coburn, Director