Sunday, January 22, 2017
Isaiah 9:4 For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
This beautiful passage from the prophet Isaiah is known as the Messianic passage. The words lead us into a gracious understanding of the coming Messiah. Salvation will stretch beyond the shores of the Jordan and the people who have been walking in darkness will get to see the great light. The Messiah will come to set God’s people free. It is these words that remind the people of the oppression that they have suffered. The burdens of carrying a yoke, being prodded on their shoulders and beaten by the rod all bring about imagery of oxen. They have been an oppressed nation, and it has felt like the burden carried by the ox who is plowing the field. It is the vision of life in Egypt when they lived as slaves.
The Messiah will come and free God’s people from oppression. The heavy yoke will be lifted and the slaves set free. This will not be accomplished by human or political power, but by the supernatural intervention of God into the lives of God’s people. Just as God rescued Gideon with a handful of men, so God will save humanity through one man. The promise is for all those who are weighed down. The Messiah has come to lift the burden and set us free.
Everyday we encounter situations which may become a burden to us. We can become yoked to that troubled relationship, or that problem at work, or that child who has determined to follow their own destiny. We may feel weighed down by the burdens that we have to carry day in and day out. Our mind becomes preoccupied with the burden and it can become oppressive. When that happens it can become consuming and difficult to think about anything else.
Jesus has come to lift that burden and remove the sense of being weighed down. This Messianic passage is prophesying about a new era when the Messiah would come and break the chains of oppression in the life of believers. The yoke and burden of slavery in Egypt are the chains of our past. Most all of us have some kind of a past; a space in life where we were not living our lives in obedience to the Father. Often that kind of living has consequences. They become the burden, the prodding bar leading us in a particular direction and the beating rod of the oppressor. It may be difficult for us to see or understand, but just as God saved Gideon from the Midianites, so God can set us free from what weighs us down today.
We are partnered together in life with something. It is either the things of life that weigh us down, or it is the yoke of the Messiah that saves. He promises that his burden is light because he does all the heavy lifting. It doesn’t mean that the burdens of life are gone, but that they are being carried by Jesus, and not by us. This is the great and glorious promise of the Messiah who has come and lives now to intervene on our behalf. We must be willing to accept the yoke of his leadership and let go of the burdens that are weighing us down.
Lord, the weight of the burdens which we often refuse to relinquish to you are unbearable. Please, lift those burdens and help us walk in the pathway you prepare for us. Amen.