Yoke is mentioned by Y’shua; Come to Me all those who work and are burdened, and I shall give you rest. 29. You must immediately take My yoke upon you and you must now learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in My heart, and you will find rest in your lives: 30. for My yoke is pleasant and My burden is insignificant. (Matt. 11:28-30) A yoke is a heavy wooden frame for harnessing together a pair of oxen or other draft animals. The rabbis teach that the LORD’s* yoke means total commitment, total surrender to His perfect will for your life. All your idols must be destroyed – there can be no pride, no love for possessions, fame, sports, or any other thing that could interfere with His plan for your life. He will provide for all your needs. This does not necessitate a vow of poverty because He does take good care of His saints.
The yoke has other significance since it is made for two. For the vast majority of us that means a spouse fills the other side, but for some the LORD* is the spouse. What is significant about the yoke is that each animal must pull its own weight. Often in ministry one has had the pride to feel he or she could go it alone, that the spouse was the provider or the cheerleader, or some other non-involved position. In this metaphor Y’shua was saying that each couple is yoked, that if each is not pulling his own weight the ministry would not achieve all that could be done. We need to understand that God instituted marriage when He built Eve. He made her equal to Adam and adequate for any task assigned to Adam, based on the word translated Meet in Gen. 2:18, KJV. The NIV translates it Suitable, which is much closer to the Hebrew meaning. A couple is to act as one, but with each one carrying his load – they are not to be identical, but complementary.
The yoke can refer to any two joined together in any endeavor. As Paul told us not to be unequally yoked, referring to marriage with an unbeliever, so also any ministry or business yoking must be in line with God’s perfect will.
The yoke belongs to the owner of the oxen, not the oxen. Each animal must be in total submission to the driver’s will, obeying every command. If one animal is spirited and continually presses ahead it will wear itself out, but not go any faster than the mate. Its pressing will also tire the driver, who continually is pulling back on the reins. Obedience is the desired character.
The word for Rest in Matt. 11:28,29 means a temporary rest. It is a break, like a coffee break at work, or a brief respite from battle. Whenever possible, army units at the front are pulled back every few days so the soldiers can rest and clean up. They are not far from the battle, but are back far enough to get good food, sleep, clean their weapons, and prepare to go back to battle. This temporary rest is what Y’shua is talking about here. A different Greek word is used for the permanent rest in His kingdom, spoken about in Hebrews, Chapters 3, 4.
The yoke of the LORD* is pleasant. The word translated pleasant is used seven times in the New Testament and this is the only place the KJV translated it as easy. It is a word that always means something good and is sometimes used in talking about food. Pleasant is appropriate in this case regarding His yoke. We know from experience that doing His ministry may not always be easy, but it is pleasant. We are acquainted with missionaries who live under what anyone in the USA would consider difficult conditions, but they love where they are and they are uncomfortable in the US because of all the materialism and pleasure seeking.
There is a prayer, called the Sh’ma, said three times each day by observant Jewish people. This is from Deut. 6:4, Listen! Obey, O Israel! The LORD* is our God! The LORD* is One! Then verses 5-9, plus Deut. 11:13-21 and Num. 15:37-41 are recited. The rabbis refer to this as “acceptance of the yoke of heaven.”
The burden of the LORD* is so light it is insignificant. The Greek word translated light in Matt. 11:30 indicates the burden is so light that its weight cannot be detected. When the weight seems heavy it must mean that something is out of line, as when Y’shua told Paul he was kicking against the goad, the cattle prod. Paul had been busy with his ministry, not His ministry.