[This podcast was first published on 6 December 2017]
Good morning everyone and welcome to Wednesday’s Podcast. This week we are taking a break from our journey through the book of Acts as we begin our season of Advent. All week we are looking at Isaiah chapter 9; at the end of this podcast you can listen to the whole reading. We are focussing in on Isaiah’s messianic prophecy, or put simply, an amazing part of the Bible which talks about Jesus hundreds of years before he was born.
Today we have arrived at verse 4-5; let me read those for us:
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
So at first glance this seems a slightly less positive reading than yesterday…no mention of rejoicing or joy today! Just quite a lot of blood, battle, burning and fire! And yet this passage talks (and we will hear more about this tomorrow) about the the scene in which Jesus is been sent. A battle rages which is coming to an end. Practically, for the people listening to Isaiah at the time, there is real hope here that God has seen their suffering, that a day of redemption is coming. But what about us?
I was particularly drawn to the line ‘you have shattered the yoke that burdens them’. As you may know, a yoke is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs. For oxen, wearing a yoke means you are about to pull a load or take on a burden. This verse of scripture is saying when the Messiah arrives he is going to smash that load, he going to remove the burden from our shoulders. When we hear this we should be reminded of Jesus’ words when he says ‘My yoke is easy’ – the things God gives us should fit because firstly they are made for us and secondly because it’s Jesus who’s walking next to us sharing the load.
All this has got me thinking and wondering about what it looks like for Jesus to shatter the yoke that burdens me? Or more specifically what is the yoke that burdens me? It could be expectations of others and who they think I should be, it could be the need to achieve, maybe it’s worry about finance or health. I can easily carry the yoke of needing to prove myself, and to be perfectly honest, to prove I’m better than the boys! I’m pretty sure none of these things are the yoke Jesus asks me to carry – in fact I’m certain they all need shattering. I wonder of any of those things resonated with you? What is the burden you carry that you know deep down you weren’t create or equipped to carry?
Let’s be honest with Jesus and each other today about the things we need to turn from, the yokes we need to ask Jesus to shatter. Let’s ask him to reveal the places where we are carrying more that we need to. Let’s walk into the freedom that journeying side by side with Jesus brings.
Jesus thank you that your yoke is easy and your burden is light. Help us to surrender the yoke that we have let the world, others or even ourselves put on our shoulders. We ask you to come and shatter those things, remind us who we are and enable us to walk in the freedom that brings. Amen.
READING: Isaiah 9:2-7
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.