Making choices is part of life. We can choose the country we live in, the suburb, the house. We can choose how we raise our children. We choose our friends and we choose what we eat or don’t eat. We can choose a career, the clothes we wear. Some choices have a greater impact on our life than others. All choices have consequences, good or bad. As believers, we want to make choices that would be in YHVH’s will. If what we choose is not within YHVH’s will for us, we will suffer the consequences of that wrong choice. How do we know if our choices are in YHVH’s will?
YHVH reveals His will to us
YHVH has revealed His will for us in His Word.
7 The law of YHVH is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of YHVH is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of YHVH are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of YHVH is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of YHVH is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of YHVH are true; they are righteous altogether. 10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.
If what we do is in line with Scripture, we are in His will, we will have wisdom, our eyes will be enlightened, we will live righteously and will be warned when necessary. In keeping YHVH’s commandments is great reward. So, if we want to make a choice according to YHVH”s will, our first test should always be to search the Scriptures to see if our will is in line with what is in YHVH’s Word. YHVH’s Spirit also indwells us. He is our guide and helper. However, if we believe YHVH has revealed something to us through His Spirit, we are to test it against His Word. He will never reveal anything through His Spirit to us that is contrary to His Word.
We also cannot expect YHVH to reveal certain details of our lives to us, if we are rejecting what He already revealed in Scripture. He gave us clear instructions on how to live our lives. We may not be perfect in keeping YHVH’s commandments, but we are to have an obedient heart. Our intention and attitude should be towards doing it perfectly, not use “He knows my heart” as an excuse not to do His commandments.
We may not understand why we need to do some of the commandments, however, seeking understanding should not be our thing, but seeking obedience. That is what it means to have an obedient heart. YHVH said His commandments are not too difficult for us.
11 â€œFor this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.
Y’shua said we are to take His yoke upon us, for it is easy and His burden is light. Let us look at the context of this phrase, to see what Y’shua meant by it.
29 â€œTake My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 â€œFor My yoke is easy and My burden is light.â€
What was Y’shua referring to here?
28â€“30 Judaism speaks of the â€œyoke of Heaven,â€ the commitment any Jew must make to trust in God, and the â€œyoke of the Torah,â€ the concomitant commitment an observant Jew makes to keep the generalities and details of halakhah. Yeshua speaks of his own easy yoke and light burden. These two are sometimes contrasted in a way implying that in comparison with Judaism, Christianity offers â€œcheap grace.â€ But this saying of Yeshuaâ€™s must be put alongside remarks such as at 10:38 (Lk 9:23â€“24). The easy yoke consists in a total commitment to godliness through the power of the Holy Spirit. It at once requires both no effort and maximal effortâ€”no effort, in that the necessary moment-to-moment faith can not be worked up from within but is a gift of God (Ep 2:8â€“9); and maximal effort, in that there is no predeterminable level of holiness and obedience sufficient to satisfy God and let us rest on our laurels. 2
If Y’shua’s yoke is referring to a total commitment to godliness through the power of the Holy Spirit, then opposed to this would be a life of lawlessness or sin. Those Y’shua referred to who were weary and heavy-laden, had the yoke of sin on them.
A yoke of iron
We read more about this yoke of sin, or yoke of iron as it is called in Deuteronomy.
48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom YHVH will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you.
This verse is preceded by this:
45 â€œSo all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey YHVH your Elohim by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.
This yoke of iron was their punishment for not keeping YHVH’s commandments. This yoke was put on them by YHVH for their disobedience.
Here is another reference to this yoke of iron:
13 â€œGo and speak to Hananiah, saying, â€˜Thus says YHVH, â€œYou have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made instead of them yokes of iron.â€ 14 â€˜For thus says YHVH of hosts, the Elohim of Israel, â€œI have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they will serve him. And I have also given him the beasts of the field.â€ â€™ â€
To have a yoke of iron on their necks meant that they were to serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. We see again that YHVH has put this yoke of iron on them. The word yoke is often employed in Scripture in the context of obedience to an authority figure, either YHVH or an evil ruler. Another reference to yoke in the context of rules oppressing the people, is found in 1 Kings 12:14 and 2Chron 10:4.
To take YHVH’s yoke upon ourselves, means to accept His authority over us and to obey Him. It is interesting that we can choose to put YHVH’s yoke upon ourselves, thus, be obedient to Him, or He would put a yoke of iron on us for being disobedient. When we choose disobedience, we will have the yoke of iron put on us by YHVH, because He wants us to return to Him.
When one comes to the Tannaitic material (the rabbinic materials from approximately 200 B.C.E. to 200 C.E.), one finds in place a new and dynamic liturgical and personal employment of the term â€œyoke.â€ When the Shema was recited twice daily and when tefillin were used, the Jew took upon himself the yoke of Godâ€™s kingship. He hereby declared Godâ€™s sovereignty in his choice, direction, discipline, and blessing of Israel. He also declared the oneness of God in contrast to the many gods of the idolaters and polytheists, and, perchance, with the developing proclamation of the divinity of the Christ of the Christians.
It is also likely that the statements concerning taking up oneâ€™s cross are to be associated with the Jewish practice of reciting the Shema each day as the sign and symbol of Godâ€™s sovereignty. Indeed, the use of the term â€œdailyâ€ in association with this Christian concept would make this suggestion even more likely. When one realizes that the term for the cross beam which Y’shua is pictured as having carried to the place of execution is the same term frequently used for the cross beam known as the yoke, and when one realizes that at least some of the early Christian interpreters of Y’shua’s words saw a specific relationship between cross and yoke, the likelihood of there having been a daily assumption of the â€œYoke of the Kingship of Godâ€ 3
From this we learn that having YHVH’s yoke on us means to accept His Kingship and authority over us and to obey His commandments. To have a yoke of iron on us means we have disobeyed and are being disciplined by YHVH. YHVH requires obedience and He does this to get us to return to Him in obedience to His commandments.
The yoke of men
The commandments of men are also referred to as a yoke, which proves that the concept of yoke is always referring to authority and commandments.
10 â€œNow therefore why do you put Elohim to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?
This yoke that is put on the people is all the rules and prescriptions that were added by the Pharisees. Y’shua had much to say about this.
9 â€˜But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.â€™ â€
4 â€œThey tie up heavy burdens and lay them on menâ€™s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.
During my reading time this morning, I read the passage about the prophet, the lion and the donkey in the book of Kings (1 kings 13:11-34). It is such a fascinating story. We can learn so much from it and it fits in beautifully with this study. This is how YHVH teaches us, I didn’t read this passage by coincidence this morning. I am always amazed by this. Thank you YHVH!
It is about a prophet who was given a command by YHVH. He was commanded to go to Jeroboam to tell him that YHVH was not pleased with what he was doing. The prophet was also commanded not to eat or drink in that place and to return by the way which he came.
He was met by another prophet, who told him an angel told him that he can eat and drink and that he should go with him to his house. This was of course a lie. The first prophet did what the man said, contrary to what YHVH told him and it cost him his life. He believed the lie and suffered the consequences. YHVH tested him and he failed the test.
We can learn much from this story. We are to listen to YHVH, not to men. We are to follow YHVH’s commandments and listen to His counsel, not men’s. If YHVH has given us something to do, do it, don’t doubt and do not take counsel from others, especially if this council is against YHVH’s word. People are deceived and can lead you astray, YHVH won’t.
When we are facing difficulties, we are vulnerable and could easily be influenced. This prophet may have been hungry and tired and was therefor quite vulnerable. We are to be careful not to be led astray when we are vulnerable. We may end up following them or our own desires and emotions. Our desires should line up with YHVH’s word and we are not to trust our emotions when we need to make decisions. In Paul’s letter to the Phillipians, he wrote the following:
Our appetite, our god?
19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
Did you know that our desires can become our god? What we want can become so important that we would rather follow these desires, than follow YHVH. This just confirms what we learned from the story of the prophet. It may have been his desire for food and rest that made him believe the prophet. It must have been very difficult for him to go back the way he came while being so thirsty, hungry and tired.
YHVH never promised us His will would be easy
These are so many examples in Scripture of how difficult is could be doing YHVH’s will.
Y’shua is our greatest example. Y’shua was in YHVH’s will, yet suffered terribly. The night before He was crucified, He prayed that YHVH would take the cup from Him, He sweated blood while praying that. The easy way for Y’shua would have been to go against YHVH’s will, He could command myriads of angels to fight on His behalf, yet He submitted to YHVH’s will.
42 saying, â€œFather, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.â€ 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
Y’shua said we will be persecuted
20 â€œRemember the word that I said to you, â€˜A slave is not greater than his master.â€™ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
2 Timothy 3:12
12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Messiah Y’shua will be persecuted.
Steven was the first martyr. He was in YHVH’s will, but was stoned for it.
59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on YHVH and said, â€œMaster Y’shua, receive my spirit!â€ 60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, â€œYHVH, do not hold this sin against them!â€ Having said this, he fell asleep.
Eliyah was persecuted by Jezebel – he had to flee – yet he was in YHVH’s will
1 Kings 19:1â€“4
1 Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, â€œSo may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.â€ 3 And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a dayâ€™s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, â€œIt is enough; now, O YHVH, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.â€
Jeremiah was thrown into a pit for speaking YHVH’s word.
6 Then they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchijah the kingâ€™s son, which was in the court of the guardhouse; and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. Now in the cistern there was no water but only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud.
Paul was persecuted and he and some of his followers were thrown in jail for preaching YHVH’s word.
YHVH’s will for Josef was to make sure a remnant would survive, yet he suffered much in accomplishing that. There are many more examples of how being in YHVH’s will is not the easy way or the way of least resistance.
Making choices is unavoidable in life. Making the right choices, according to YHVH’s will can be a challenge. From this study, we have learned that we are to make our choices based on YHVH’s word (His yoke or commandments)and His Spirit leading us. His Spirit would never instruct us to do what is contrary to His word.
We are also, not to follow our own desires, emotions or other people. When we avoid this, teamed with being obedient to YHVH, we will be in YHVH’s will. It may not be easy, it will likely be the difficult way,but we are to endure and continue and not get sidetracked. Do not follow men, follow YHVH, His way is the best way. He has a plan for every one of us.
11 â€˜For I know the plans that I have for you,â€™ declares YHVH, â€˜plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 â€˜Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 â€˜You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
When we do this, we will have peace in Y’shua.
33 â€œThese things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.â€
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Yâ€™shua for Jesus.
- Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary : a companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed., Mt 11:28). Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications.
- Tyer, C. L. (1992). Yoke. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 6, p. 1027). New York: Doubleday.
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