I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you to upright. Leviticus 26:13
When ‘yoke’ is used, especially in the O.T., it speaks of slavery or bondage to an oppressor. This passage from Leviticus is one example. The Israelites were not freed from the Egyptians through a revolt, an underground movement, or a rebel who rose up to lead the people. They were powerless against a formidable oppressor. Only God could break the bands of their yoke. Bondage was all they had ever known. It was in their DNA. Four hundred years of it had characterized the existence of the many generations before them.
I may not know this kind of slavery but I can be enslaved nonetheless to a bully, a spouse, a sibling, even an aging parent. Someone got the upper hand when I was once in a compromised position. The relational pattern was set in stone and perhaps I don’t presently have the personal strength to shake up the dynamics. Oh, but God does. He is in me and I need not be a bully in return in order to be freed from their control. There is holy strength in quietness and resolve. There is holy strength in the man or woman who know that they answer to God first. There is holy strength in the person who is confident before a bully because the Lord is on their side.
A yoke of slavery also plagues me when I fail to leave the unholy ways of my family. At conversion, my allegiance is to be re-defined. How difficult though to overcome generational yokes. We are shown very early in life that there is the ‘family way of doing things’ and if you want to enjoy its community, you have to stay in step. These unholy legacies don’t just include things like infidelity, anger, alcoholism, addictive behaviors, depression or a pre-disposition to a certain disease. There are more insidious culprits such as a hatred of men, or women, a despising of the church, and even a racial bigotry between the north and the south, the blacks and the whites, and Christians against non-Christians.
Isaiah said, Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord; Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Isaiah 51:1 The message is clear. I have been shaped by those who raised me. It is imperative that every child of God look closely at their daily choices to see if there is still a yoke to those who put pressure on us to be like them. I am to be more like my Heavenly Father than my earthly one. My new birth trumps my initial birth.
How do I take off this yoke of slavery? First, I ask God to expose my ungodly connections and make me willing to align with Jesus. He will start turning on the light. Each time I cave and cower, I repent for doing what Jesus would not do. I take new paths of righteousness armed with scripture and the power of the Spirit. It may result in being out of step with my family of origin. Am I willing to be the child of God that Jesus would be if He lived my life? Only grace will enable it. Only faith will propel it into the future.
Lord, this is the hard and steep path but oh, how blessed I will be to keep in step with You, to walk in Your footprints. Amen