• Rev. Mark Tews

The Yoke Will Be Destroyed

“Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: ‘O my people, who dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians when they strike with the rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did.’” (Isaiah 10:24).

In today’s verse, Isaiah is reminding Israel that the Assyrians were only able to oppress them because God allowed them to do so. It is helpful for us to understand that nothing that happens in our lives is entirely by happenstance and that God does not, nor has He ever promised, to give us everything we want. God is who He is. He always has been and always will be God. There will never be a replacement for Him. Whatever God does is always perfect and right, no matter how wrong we feel about it.

Everything God does, He does out of His love for us, and His love is perfect. However, His perfect love also has judgment. It is simply a sign that we belong to God when He chastens us. The very fact that God would challenge us about our behavior, our attitude, or our lifestyle is a sign that He loves us and that He has a plan for our lives. It is important for us to remember that the Lord corrects us as His children because He loves us.

If we endure His chastisement, it proves our kinship with the Father. It is a sign that we are actually His own children. There are many who start to follow Jesus, but when it gets tough, they leave Him. “Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the Words of eternal life.’” (John 6:67–68). We’ve all been in some tough places, and we’ve all gone through some dark days. Things do not always go the way we want them to go. But because we are God’s children, we belong to Him. All who believe can boldly proclaim this with confidence.

“God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6). And so it is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are connected to and corrected by God. God will often use adversity to get our attention. Sometimes we’re not focused or committed. Sometimes we take Him for granted. We go through adversity to get our priorities back in line and cause us to refocus on God – just like the oppression of the Assyrians that God used to drive Israel to prayer. Nothing makes us pray like trouble. God will sometimes use those troubles to bring us to a point where He has our full, undivided attention.

Even once God has gotten your attention, the troubles of life often still linger, even when you’re doing all you know how to do to serve Him. It’s as if there is a yoke of bondage around your neck. God assured His people that He would not allow the Assyrians to oppress them once they had turned back to Him. He also said, “It shall come to pass in that day that His burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and His yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.” (Isaiah 10:27). What is this anointing oil that destroys the yoke?

When we are anointed with the Holy Spirit through Baptism, we are endowed by God to function in this world according to His will. God’s anointing is to our faith life what gasoline is to a car. No matter what type of car, if you don’t fill your tank with gas, the car won’t run and you’re going nowhere. God did not anoint you to sit and be lazy, or make excuses, or procrastinate. God’s anointing is the work of the Holy Spirit speaking through you when you’re witnessing, preaching, helping, or whatever you do to serve the Lord in your vocation. The Holy Spirit is what kicks in to give you understanding, boldness, creativity, perseverance, or whatever you need to be effective in the Church.

A principle called the “law of first mention” means that whenever we are reading the Word of God, the first context in which something is mentioned sets the precedence for its interpretation throughout the rest of Scripture. In the Bible, the Spirit of God is mentioned in the second verse. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1–2). The very first thing God teaches us about His Spirit is that He is powerful, effective, and moving. The Holy Spirit flows, much like oil, and covers everything onto which He is poured. The fact that He was moving at the beginning of Creation shows that He’s not docile or indifferent – He is active and involved.

If the Holy Spirit, a moving Spirit, is inside of you and you’re not growing or moving your faith with Him, then God is grieving. The Spirit of God is inside of you to move you! He works change inside your heart, allowing you to do His work and bring glory to Him. God doesn’t want to move in someone who is obstinate and stubborn, refusing to move with Him. Instead, if you let Him, He will move you out of your inhibitions, insecurities, and intimidations and into His glory. God wants to break the yoke of bondage around your neck. There is no need to be afraid, for we are in the hands of Almighty God.