“You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Genesis 27:39-41

Are you burdened?  Does life seem too tough to bear at times? Are you oppressed by a current situation or feelings of guilt?  Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world, a world prone to sin.  If you live according to the world’s ways and not the Lord’s ways, burdens, oppression and guilt can become too much to bear.  And sadly, the world offers no real or lasting ‘cure’ for these ailments.  However, the LORD does!   

Genesis 27:39-41 tells us that we will ‘live by the sword’ and ‘serve our brother’, which means it is foretold that we will serve man, money, pride, greed, and succomb to other behaviors that will cause burden to us, but do we have to be that way forever?  No!  This verse goes on to tell us that ‘when we decide to break free, we will shake the yoke from our neck.”  So how do we do that? 

The words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-29 address this very issue.  “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.”

This a seemingly paradoxical teaching.  Jesus calls for all who are weary or burdened to take on his yoke.  If you think about what a yoke is, this advice contradicts itself.  A yoke is the heavy wooden piece used to bound oxen or other animals together so that they can pull a plow or, as Charles Stanley of Intouch states, to walk in unison together.   

So if I already have a burden, why do I want to take on a yoke?  Won’t it make my load even heavier and harder to bear?   If you take on the yoke of the world, then yes.  But if you take on the yoke of the Lord, the answer is a comforting ‘no’.  This is true for two reasons:

1) The Lord wants you to come to Him.  He wants to help you.  Charles Stanley points out that this ivitation is to ‘all’ – everyone, even YOU!  Jesus wants to carry our load for us, take the weight, relieve us of our burdens.  By taking on the yoke of the Lord and relieving yourself of the yoke of the world, you will no longer carry the oppressive weight that has been pulling you down. 

2) According to the teaching of Keri Wyatt Kent, ‘yoke’ referred to a priests way of teaching in ancient days.  If someone asked what yoke you followed, they were asking what priest you followed, what doctrines, beliefs and practices you subscribed to. 

With that in mind, look back at the passage of Matthew where Jesus tells us to learn from Him.  “…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.”  

Now this instruction makes sense!  If we go to Christ and offer the weight of our burdens to Him and are willing to receive His teachings, follow His ways, and trust in Him, our burdens will be removed and we will find rest for our souls.  His teachings are easy and will make our burden light!  How wonderful is that?!  

Does this mean we’ll be completely freed from the responsibilities and realities of those burdens?  No.  The situation may remain, but the burden and opression will be lifted. 

Leviticus 26:13 tells us: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.”   

Christ wants us to let Him carry the weight of our burdens so that we can walk with our heads high.  If you are burdened, when was the last time you walked with your head held high?  

God, our loving Father, knew we would face trials and tribulations and planned from the beginning to help us in those times.  This is shown in the words of Isaiah 9:4:
For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.You will break the oppressor’s rod…”  and also in Isaiah 10:27:  “In that day the Lord will end the bondage of his people. He will break the yoke of slavery and lift it from their shoulders.”

God loved us enough to send His Son to free us from guilt and sin, and relieve us of our burdens.  What a generous offering that was!  Are you receiving this gracious gift from God?  If not, pray to God.  Ask Him to relieve you of your burdens and offer them up to Him.  Ask Him to show you a better way, His way.  And put your trust in Him. 

Dear God, You are such a loving and gracious Father.  Just as we don’t want to see our loved ones suffer, You don’t want us to suffer either.  I pray for all who are suffering, Lord, that they will lift their burdens to You, take on Your ways, and trust in You to lead them to better days and better times.  To You my Heavenly Father I pray, with Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and with the love of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Note:  This message was inspired by today’s broadcast of Intouch led by Charles Stanley.  Check your local listings for this broadcast or go to www.Intouch.org

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