Definition of Yoke:
- In literal sense, the word ‘Yoke’ means a bar of wood, so constructed as to unite two animals (usually oxen), enabling them to work in the fields, drawing loads, pulling instruments used for farming.
- Figuratively, It is a symbol of
- Slavery (1 Tim 6:1)
- Servanthood (Lev 26:13:”I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” Also Jer 27:8-12)
- Submission, Forced Subjection
- Burden, Load
- Oppression (Is 9:4)
- Bondage to Sin (Lam 1:14: “My sins have been bound into a yoke, by his hands, they were woven together…”)
- The Plowman (farmer) binds the yoke upon the neck of the oxen, so that it would not fall off or be shaken off. Yoke bound around the neck of man would cause his strength to diminish, one may waver and fall under the yoke (load).
Yoke in the Bible (NT):
- Mt 11:28-30, Acts 15:10, 2 Cor 6:14, Phil 4:3 etc
- Gal 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”
- Paul in Gal 5:1 and Peter in Acts 15:10 talk about yoke of bondage that the Law brings, the yoke that no one can carry. The requirements of the Law are beyond our capacity!
- Rom 8:2 – “Because through Christ Jesus, the law of spirit has set me free from the law of sin and death.”
- Christ Jesus has set us free from the yoke of bondage through the law. Jesus took upon himself the yoke of Law and fulfilled it. Therefore, through him, we can be set free from the yoke of sin and death.
- 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.”
- Jesus invites all who are under the yoke of Law or sin and offers the true rest for their souls.
- We may visualize this as Jesus being the master or a farmer and us being yoked with a lighter load. But that is NOT the right picture.
- Farmers used to yoke the young ox with the old experienced ox to train them. The old ox will take the major load and the young one will be walking along and learning from him. If you read this verses in light of this, it makes more sense.
- What a wonderful picture, Jesus is giving to those who are exhausted, weary and burdened from carrying the load by themselves! What a comfort, peace, joy and rest it is to know that Jesus is right with us, walking with us, teaching us and strengthening us side by side!
- We may be under the yoke of sin, oppression, guilt, failures, anxieties (1 Pet 5:7), or worries. Jesus has set us free from the yoke, we just need to COME to him and cast our heavy burden on him. And he will give the rest for our souls.