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Doing Away With The Yoke

Ox YokeIf you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Isaiah 58:8b-12

Desire is the key to self-discipline.  If you want something, you are motivated to obtain it.

Consider the promises.

God will always guide you.  He will meet all your needs, even when in dry places.  You will never be in darkness–even in your darkest moments, it will be like noon day.  You will be well-watered, prospering in everything.  And, you will restore the things that had gone before, that have fallen, and been destroyed.  That which was from generations past, you will rebuild.

If that is the promise, what is God requiring?  The removal of the yoke.  The removal of the pointing of the finger.  An end to bad speech.  And, instead, to assist those who are oppressed, and to spend yourself on behalf of the hungry. If this is the requirement for that, shouldn’t we be devoted to it?

The pointing of the finger may be the most clear-cut of these, but each of these is a progression.  Let us start at the first.

It begins with a yoke, with a weight.  Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30).  Any yoke that is not easy and light is not of Christ.  His is always an easy load.

On the contrary, there are many situations and individuals who would like to enlist you to carry a load that is anything other than this.  Whether it is through unjust relationships, through situational and relational double-binds, or through anything that would place a burden on you in any way, other than that which is light and easy.

But, the key to not carrying any one else’s yoke, in sincerity, is not placing them on others.  Do you find yourself bearing yokes and burdens that are not yours?  Perhaps, you are only reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7).

Yokes represent the spirit of judgment.  When you judge someone, you place a demand upon them that they must conform to your will and your way of doing things.  In fact, without the spirit of judgment, you cannot place a yoke on anyone.  They will simply be and do as they will.  This is, in fact, meekness.

The problem with pressure is that it seems to accomplish or obtain what we want, but at a cost.  The same way we apply pressure to others, pressure will be applied to us.  The only way out of pressure is to stop, repent, and forgive.

Putting a yoke on someone is to put them into servitude, to make them your servant.  When you have a need that is not met, and you expect it to come from others, you are demanding their service, like an ox, or a mule.  They are yoked with the responsibility for meeting your need.  Of course, true needs, within or without, cannot be met by another individual.  The need will simply fest, grow, and in an ever increasing pit, will leave you miserable.  And, what is more, the same pressure you use to get your way will be applied to you, and you will be another man’s slave.

To demand service of another, to meet your need in any way, seems like a positive way to go.  You get your inward desires met, they do what you want, and all is well.  But, no one is really happy.  It is placing a yoke upon your brother (or sister), the likes of which, no one can truly meet.

In fact, generally, the need is often an unmet need from one’s youth.  Were you loved as a child?  Did you feel special?  Did you ever grow up feeling special and unique to anyone else, in your eyes?

These are debts.  These should have come through others.  As some put it, a “Type A” trauma is the “absence of the good things you should have had” (debts), and a “Type B” trauma is the “bad things that happen to us” (transgressions).  Both are important.

But, the answer to both is the same–forgive.

As was said, you must be in a spirit of judgment in order to put a demand upon someone, whether in the past or in the present.  You judge the original person who didn’t provide for you (unconciously, of course), you judge the person in the present, both that they are “it” for you to receive from them, and you judge yourself as incapable of having it on your own (from God).

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Matthew 7:1

When you judge, you open yourself to judgment.  When you think ill of anyone, on whatever level, the same ill you think towards them will come to you.  When you place any form of judgment upon anyone, that very place you judge from is the very place where you will be judged.

The difference is between justice and grace.  Those who demand justice for either what happened to them, or what didn’t (Type A & B, above), whether consciously or unconciously, come under the same spirit of judgment.

The root of rejection is believing someone else’s opinion of you over that of God.  And, this too, is judgment.  It is no coincidence that, as many have observed, wherever there is rejection, there is always rebellion.  Why?  Because it is the spirit of judgment.

In order to feel rejection, you must come into agreement with the judgments (real or perceived) against you.  When you agree with the spirit of judgment, you are in judgment yourself.  Hence, you cannot be in rejection unless you are in judgment.  Rejection is judgment.

And, judgment takes ‘effort’.  It is a decision, it is an agreement with something.  The way out is not more effort, it is stopping doing something you are doing.  Release of the judgment is the requirement, that of forgiving, releasing, and giving up.

Forgiveness is giving a gift they do not deserve, and sometimes, that includes yourself.  When you release others, you yourself will be released.

And, so, on to rebellion, which is the spirit of accusation.  This is the finger pointing.

When once we begin with the spirit of judgment, of placing servitude upon others for what we expect out of them, when that isn’t met, we begin to blame.

And, just as the judgment, or yoke, from yourself, opened yourself to judgment, when you point the finger in blame, you will have the finger pointed at you.

Rebellion is both judgment and accusation, both the yoke and the finger (and sometimes more).  When your well-being stops being your responsibility (because you gave it away with the judgment yoke), and your needs aren’t met, then comes the pointing of the finger.

Once the finger comes out, “Look what you did!”, then comes the spiral of emotions.

The root is the deficit, the perceived lack of love, nurture, etc.  But, it is never solved outside of Christ.  Only He can fill, and He does and will. But, as Christ said, if you do not give up the yoke, stop placing the burden for your emotional pain and lack in life upon anyone, the Father will not release you from your pit.  Quite honestly, the only way out, is to let it go.  Face the fact that it will never be met.  Realize what that means.  Come to grips with the fact that the deep debt of love, that well of emptiness, and fears of abandonment are what they are, they are never going to be filled, and let the full weight of that sink in.  And then, take a deep breath (or whatever), and realize you’re still here, still alive, and still right where you were before that.  God hasn’t left.  And, then release the whole thing.  Just release it.  If you have, you’ve just entered into a place where, while it might not be overnight, God can start to bless you.  And, in the place where you have felt such a lack and abandonment, the love of God that has always been there and available will simply start to flow to you, and it will be real, tangible, and undeniable.

But, the last part is the witchcraft.  Once in rebellion, it often takes only a short time to come into the wicked talk.  From the spirit of judgment, to the spirit of accusation, to the spirit of witchcraft, cursing and oppressing

This too, seems like such an appropriate way to get what we want.  If all else fails, bully with your words.  Manipulate, condemn, pressure, oppress.  Gossip, slander, name-call, and lie.  But, Jesus said,

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 5:21-22

From judgment, to the accuser, to witchcraft and murder.

This is why Christ said the one who does these things is in great, immediate peril.

Now, this does not mean that anyone who is sincerely following Christ, if they are struggling and being perfected, if they fall into these, that they are doomed.  Rather, if you are doing these things, stop.  If you blow past all these things, irreverently dismissing these words of Christ as irrelevant, though, question whether you are in the faith.  Willful disobedience, intentionally ignoring, and saying certain things don’t matter are not the mark of a new heart, let alone of a renewed mind.  If someone simply does not care what Christ Himself said, and lives how they choose, what ‘lord’ are they serving?  This is not speaking of slip-ups, accidents, or even being ‘in-process’.  It is speaking of the deliberate disregard of the unsaved but self-righteous.

And, all three of these are for the sole purpose of getting one’s own way.

What you need, what you want, you place upon another.  Or on objects and possessions, in coveteousness.  All of these are idolatry.  All of these are greed.  None of these are Christ.

Rather, if you put away the yoke.  The burden of your needs belongs on no one.  Die to them, and you will live.  Do not place yokes, and you will not be yoked.

If you put away the pointing of the finger.  No one is to blame.  Release your parents.  Release every authority figure, including church authorities.  Release them, until they are no longer held accountable, in your eye, for their debts or transgressions.  Until you can think of them sincerely, as ‘not that person’.  Give them a gift they cannot repay.  Until the finger is gone.

And, if you put away the malicious talk.  Not a word.  Not a thought of a word.  Pure, forgiven.  You have a heavenly Father.  He meets all your needs.

This is heavenly forgiveness, and this is the spirit of meekness.

[Most Happy] are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5

This is where Grace lives.

Those who are meek do not seek to get their own way (neither is love, 1 Corinthians 13:5).  But, what does Jesus say?  Those who don’t push to get their way, in any way, will inherit everything they want from this Earth, in this life.  What is the way to get everything in this life that everyone else is running after (Matthew 6:32)?  By not trying to assert yourself to get it.  By not pushing and clawing after it.  By not trying to ‘help yourself’.  God will give it to you, an inheritence, in this life.

Jesus says, in Matthew 5:5, that those who know that God will do this are Most Happy (the literal meaning, often translated as ‘blessed’).  You are most happy not spending yourself to get ahead, while you are doing it, because you know you will have it.

And, in the mean time, instead of clawing your way to the front, what does God say to do?

“[S]pend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed”.  Do the opposite.  Help others, lose other people, serve.

And, you will never be lacking in anything you want.  God will continually be your guide.  You will never be in darkness.  You will prosper even in the hardest conditions.  And, most of all, you will know how to love.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13