TODAY’S READING: 2 CHRONICLES 8-11
In 2 Chronicles 10, Rehoboam, king of all Israel, was asked to lighten the hard service the people were under. Instead of listening to the advice of the old men who had served under Solomon, Rehoboam listened to the advice of the young men he grew up with. Their advice was to add to heavy yoke the people were already under.
Every use but one of the phrase “heavy yoke” is confined to the story of Rehoboam (the same story can be found in 1 Kings 12). Several Hebrew words are translated into the one word heavy. The various Hebrew words mean hard, severe, fierce, or oppressing.
While Rehoboam listened to advice of the young men to make the yoke of the people even heavier, the advice of the old men was, “If you will be good to this people and please them and speak good words to them, they they will be your servants forever.” (2 Chronicles 10:7)
Be good. Speak good. This is the advice of the old men on how a king could get people to be his servants forever.
In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Instead of heavy yoke, Jesus gives us any easy yoke. But, the Greek word here for easy is chrestos. It is sued just seven times in the New Testament, and this is the only time it is translated good or kind. So, we could read what Jesus said as, “My yoke is good,” or “My yoke is kind.”
A yoke is used to guide and direct an animal in its work. Man’s way to get an animal to work harder or more efficiently is to make the yoke heavier, to put the animal under more control. This is what men do to other men. This is why Jesus said in Luke 11:46, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” Men add more laws and more laws, more rule and rules, more burdens and more burdens, to get other men to do what they want them to do.
But, Jesus says his yoke is not like that. The yoke of Jesus is good or kind.
The word chrestos use in “my yoke is easy” is the same Greek word used in 2 Peter 2:2, which says, “Like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good [chrestos].”
Chrestos is also used in Romans 2:4, which says, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness [chrestos] is meant to lead you to repentance?”
Remember a yoke is meant to lead you. The yoke that Jesus puts on you is goodness and kindness. It’s this yoke of goodness or kindness that leads people to repentance. It’s Jesus’ yoke of goodness or kindness that leads one to turn from the kingdom of Satan and darkness to the kingdom of Jesus and light.
This is exactly what the old men advised Rehoboam. The old men told Rehoboam be good and speak good. This was the yoke Rehoboam should have used if he wanted Israel to be his servants forever.
Man will lay upon you law after law and rule after rule to force you in a direction. However, that doesn’t work. As we see in the story of Rehoboam this kind of heavy yoke leads men to rebel.
But, praise God that Jesus’ yoke is goodness. He knows to be good and speak good to lead us where he wants us to go.