“The Yoke is on You”
“Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun: And look! The tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter – On the side of their oppressors there is power, but they have no comforter. (Ecclesiastes 4:1).”
A report from a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government has published a report that claims that there are more slaves today than at any time in human history.1 It is estimated that there are 27 million people in the world under forced subjection to another on every populated continent on the globe. All of this in spite of more than a dozen international conventions banning the practice of slavery. In Mauritania more than 4% of the population are enslaved in spite of laws outlawing the practice.2
But in truth, there are far more than 27 million enslaved on earth today. Satan has ensnared many and taken them captive (2 Timothy 2:26). There are literally billions on the planet today that are under his cruel bondage having become slaves to sin. Jesus taught that “whoever commits sin is a slave to sin (John 8:34).” All men are slaves to whomever they present themselves to obey (Romans 6:16). Freely giving oneself to be Satan’s sin slave means not only oppression in this life but it carries the death penalty.
Jesus promised that for His disciples that abide in His word, truth is the key that sets them free (John 8:32). The paradox of it all is that to be freed from Satan’s slavery men must voluntarily become bondservants of Christ. Paul spoke of obeying the gospel while slaves of sin and being set free to become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:17-23). The end result is becoming slaves of righteousness means escaping the death penalty and receiving everlasting life. It is essential that one have his chains removed and take up the towel of a bondservant for Christ (John13:5, 14). The word “bondservant” doesn’t soften up the meaning; it is as it sounds – a slave who is bound to a master. In this, His disciple is clearly the slave and Christ is the Lord or Master.
Under the Mosaic Law there were instructions regulating the treatment of such servants. It is worth noting that after six years of service the Hebrew male slave was to be set free. But if he should say that he loves his master and family and chooses to voluntarily remain under his master it was to be declared publicly and his master was to pierce his ear with an awl and he would be bound to serve him forever (Exodus 21:1-6). Jesus was not compelled but freely chose to become a servant (Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:7) for our sakes.
And so it is only right that having been set free we should desire to serve Him as is fitting (Luke 17:10). But the service He calls us to is not burdensome duty. His invitation still rings, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 12:29-30).” The yoke is the emblem of subjection and service (Exodus 28:48, 1 Kings 12:4).3 Animals who bore heavy loads or plowed hard, rocky fields had yokes placed upon their necks. But the yoke of Christ is light (1 John 5:3) and gives rest from the wearying burdens of sin and death.
Being deceived into slavery with the false promise of freedom (Genesis 3:4-5) is poisonous peril. Choosing to serve the One Who has served us so well is liberating and life giving. Whose yoke are you bearing?
“You were bought at a price; do not becomes slaves of men (1 Corinthians 7:23).”
H. Leo Boles, Gospel Advocate New Testament Commentaries: Matthew, Nashville, TN, 1952, p. 254