In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying— 2 thus says the Lord to me—“Make for yourself bonds and yokes and put them on your neck,” (27:1-2).
A message is sent, not only to the king of Judah, but to the pagan kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon whose ambassadors had each come to Jerusalem.
“and send word to the king of Edom, to the king of Moab, to the king of the sons of Ammon, to the king of Tyre and to the king of Sidon by the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah,” (27:3).
It is speculated that these kings were seeking to form an alliance to wage war against Babylon. But God had commanded His people to make no covenant with the surrounding nations who served pagan gods, for an alliance with them would surely result in ensnaring them in idolatry.
“You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you,” (Exodus 23:32-33).
But in his pride, Zedekiah rebelled against God and His commands spoken through His prophet, Jeremiah.
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the Lord, (2 Chronicles 36:11-12).
But still, to these five pagan kings rooted in idolatry and to this evil, disobedient king who should have known better, God again sent His Word.
“ Command them to go to their masters, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, thus you shall say to your masters, 5 “I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. 6 Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and I have given him also the wild animals of the field to serve him. 7 All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings will make him their servant,’” (27:4-7).
Can you get over His compassion and His grace? The Almighty Creator God, Mighty and Powerful, reminds them that He directs the course of history, that every nation is subject to His sovereign rule, and sends His counsel in advising them in what not to do. Four times Jeremiah speaks on behalf of God, telling them, “do not listen.”
- “But as for you, do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers or your sorcerers who speak to you, saying, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon,’” (27:9).
- “So do not listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you, saying, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they prophesy a lie to you,” (27:14).
- Then I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying, “Thus says the Lord: Do not listen to the words of your prophets who prophesy to you, saying, ‘Behold, the vessels of the Lord’s house will now shortly be brought again from Babylon’; for they are prophesying a lie to you, (27:16).
- Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon, and live! Why should this city become a ruin? (27:17).
And through the yoke that Jeremiah wore, God was demonstrating to His people that their only hope for life was to take on His Yoke of Protection by accepting God’s Truth and submitting to Him in obedience. And how were they do this? By submitting to the rule of the king of Babylon.
yoke: 4133. מוֹטָה môṭāh: A feminine noun meaning a bar, a yoke. It is used of a harness collar but is employed figuratively of forces that oppress God’s people (Isa. 58:6, 9), especially in Egypt (Lev. 26:13). This yoke was used in prophetic messages as well (Jer. 27:2; 28:10, 12, 13), representing political subjection (Ezek. 30:18; 34:27)…” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
And although submitting to the king of Babylon would certainly bring oppression, in doing so they would actually be submitting to Almighty God Who promised He would bring life. And whether or not it made sense to their natural understanding, whether or not they could wrap their minds around His ways, if they would know, listen, believe, submit to, obey, hope in, and live His Truth, they would come under His Yoke of Protection and be spared.
Consider His Yoke of Protection
In every command, whether expressed as “thou shall,” or “thou shall not,” is His Yoke of Protection. But in order to receive His Protection, His Yoke must be taken on and shouldered in faith.
- His Yoke of Protection: Know His Truth by listening to His Truth.
- “It will be, that the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine and with pestilence,” declares the Lord, “until I have destroyed it by his hand,” (27:8).
- His Yoke of Protection: Listen to His Truth to believe His Truth.
- “But as for you, do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers or your sorcerers who speak to you, saying, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon.’” (27:9).
- His Yoke of Protection: Believe His Truth to submit to His Truth.
- For they prophesy a lie to you in order to remove you far from your land; and I will drive you out and you will perish, (27:10).
- His Yoke of Protection: Submit to His Truth to obey His Truth.
- “But the nation which will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let remain on its land,” declares the Lord, “and they will till it and dwell in it,” (27:11).
- His Yoke of Protection: Obey His Truth to possess hope in His Truth.
- I spoke words like all these to Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him and his people, and live!” (27:12).
- His Yoke of Protection: Hope in His Truth to live His Truth.
- Then I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying, “Thus says the Lord: Do not listen to the words of your prophets who prophesy to you, saying, ‘Behold, the vessels of the Lord’s house will now shortly be brought again from Babylon’; for they are prophesying a lie to you,” (27:16).
- His Yoke of Protection: Live His Truth to live!
- “Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon, and live! Why should this city become a ruin?” (27:17).
How do we respond to His Yoke of Protection?
Perhaps when we read of His Yoke, we also think of Jesus inviting us to come to Him.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take 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 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30).
yoke: “6.8 ζυγόςa, οῦ m: a bar or frame of wood by which two draft animals are joined at the head or neck in order to work together effectively in pulling a plow, harrow, or wagon—‘yoke,’” Louw- Nida Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament
Jesus offers His Yoke to all who are weary and heavy-laden. It is His invitation to all who are worn out, all who are carrying the weight of sin and the burden of trying to do life in their own effort and wisdom. It is His invitation to come and be joined to Him shoulder to shoulder, through surrendered faith.
He is gentle and will never force us to surrender. But as we surrender, we will learn the ways of Him Who surrendered all that He had to take on the Yoke of His Father in order to provide His Protection that would grant us eternal life.
who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, (Philippians 2:6-8).
Today, let us answer His invitation to come to Him, that we would take on His Yoke of Protection and learn from Him as He teaches us the Truth of His Word.
- Let us take on His Yoke of Protection as we commit to Know His Truth by continuing in His Word that we would be set free.
- So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:31-32).
- Let us take on His Yoke of Protection as we commit to Listen to His Truth that we would see only Jesus.
- … a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone, (Matthew 17:5-8).
- Let us take on His Yoke of Protection as we commit to Believe His Truth that we would have His assurance and conviction of the things unseen.
- Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1).
- Let us take on His Yoke of Protection as we commit to Submit to His Truth that we would be led by His Spirit into His life and peace.
- For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so, (Romans 8:6-7 HCSB).
- Let us take on His Yoke of Protection as we commit to Obey His Truth that we would be conformed to the likeness of Him Who Is Holy.
- As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy,” (1 Peter 1:14-17).
- Let us take on His Yoke of Protection as we commit to Hope in His Truth that we would live with His eternal perspective.
- Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, (1 Peter 1:3-4).
- Let us take on His Yoke of Protection as we commit to Live His Truth that we would put off the practices of our old self as we put on the new self, created in Christ, that we would truly live!
- Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator, (Colossians 3:9-10).
Oh, that we would daily seek to be renewed through our Knowing, our Listening, our Believing, our Submitting to, and our Obeying His Truth, that our Hope would be secured as we Live each and every day in the Truth of His Yoke of Protection.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect, (Romans 12:2).