Here are pictured two oxen, yoked together. They are partners together within the yoke, serving their master.
The yoke is the wooden frame that is constructed for connecting two animals. Yoked together their labor is much more productive. They must walk together, and work together. If one of them tries to go its own way, it is very painful for both of them.
An ox is a powerful animal, and can do a great deal of very profitable labour! Yet what good is an ox that is not trained to yield to the master, nor trained to yield to his partner within the yoke?
The picture of an ox working side-by-side with his partner demonstrates the necessity of humility, brokenness, and submission. An ox must first learn humility, brokenness, submission, before he is fit for working for the master. The ox has to endure the pain of a hurting, aching neck, even a wounded, raw neck. He has to learn to submit to the immovable nature of the yoke.
Once the ox is broken of his willfulness and stubbornness, he is then a mature and useful animal. The same is true for you and me!
The oxen illustration, in the natural realm, offers a good representation of a vital spiritual principle —
first the natural, then the spiritual (1Corinthians 15:46).
Yahushua Has A Yoke For Us
Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] tells us:
Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Yahushua says to His disciples: “Come to Me; Take My yoke upon you.”
When we come to Yahushua for salvation and forgiveness, we enter into the eternal realm of His Kingdom, and we begin a life-long journey of walking with Him. If we truly desire to follow Him, then we must make the choice to surrender to Him, our loving Master.
Choosing Him as Master means we willingly “take His yoke” upon us, and enter into a partnership with Him, to begin learning of Him.
[If you have never taken the initial step of “Coming” to Yahushua for forgiveness and salvation, then please see the brief article: Good News.]
In the illustration of the oxen, we can see that the two oxen are harnessed together. They work together as one, side-by-side, within the yoke.
As the ox learns humility, brokenness, and submission, then he becomes fit for reaping the consequences of knowing the loving master’s guidance, attention, and concern for him.
This natural example offers a good illustration of an important, yet often neglected, spiritual principle: First the Natural, Then the Spiritual:
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural (is first); and afterward that which is spiritual. (1Corinthians 15:46)
The above Scripture teaches us the Biblical principle: the natural realm is first, and has a profound effect in the spiritual realm.
The illustration of the oxen demonstrates this principle.
Once the oxen are broken of their willfulness, stubbornness, and resistance, then they are mature and useful animals. Each ox had to endure the natural pain of a hurting, aching neck due to the confines of the yoke, in order to learn the benefits and blessings of submitting to the yoke.
Just as the ox must learn to endure the natural pain of the confines of the yoke, so it is with us in our walk with Yahushua. As a fellow yoke-mate with Messiah, much of what we learn is worked out within the confines of our natural, earthly circumstances.
Everything in our natural circumstances, Father uses to shape, refine, and mold our lives so that we can be fruitful within the spiritual realm. We are in a partnership with our Saviour, and He desires our cooperation as we walk with Him in our journey of life, yoked together with Him.
As a yoke-mate with Messiah, we must choose to surrender to Him, to walk according to His ways and His Word. We then begin to learn of Him, the One who is meek and lowly in heart.
Partnered within Messiah’s yoke means we will begin to yield to, and obey, His Word and guidance. We will begin to learn that — His yoke is easy.
Let’s look more closely at what it means to be His partner, walking and working together, within His yoke. First, let’s consider the nature of a yoke.
The Nature of The Yoke
The natural realm of our unique circumstances is a complete environment that we cannot change. We are in situations and relationships that are unchanging, immovable. Un-changing and immovable is also the nature of a yoke.
A yoke is a solid, immovable, and steady boundary. Our natural circumstances are a picture of a yoke; and our natural circumstances have a great deal to do with the yoke of Yahushua.
The unique, natural realm where you and I are placed by our loving Maker, Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God], is the place where we are to learn spiritual lessons that make us fit for work for the Master. Our natural circumstances provide the arena for learning how to yield within the Master’s yoke.
Remember: what we do in the natural has a profound effect in the spiritual! The natural realm provides the classroom for learning lessons necessary for spiritual growth and maturity.
When we enter into partnership with Yahushua, we become a yoke-mate with Him. Yahushua’s example of humility, yieldedness, faithfulness, and servanthood are eternal, yoke-mate qualities for us to learn. Our natural circumstances offer us countless opportunities to learn spiritual lessons, as we follow our Yoke-Mate’s example.
Our Unique, Natural Circumstances
The Master has placed each of us in our unique, natural situations for working out our obedience to Him. He has placed us here in our particular setting, in our unique circumstances, for His purposes.
Our unique, particular natural circumstances have definite, rigid, immovable boundaries, just as a yoke does. Father uses the unique, natural realm of our day-to-day circumstances [which is as a yoke], to refine us and to mold us, to make us spiritually fit [or suitable], for the work of our loving Master.
We may not like our natural, earthly situation, but we cannot change it.
We cannot change who our parents are. We cannot change who our brothers, sisters, and other relatives are. We cannot change who our spouse is. We cannot change who our children are. We cannot easily change who our boss is, or who our fellow-workers are. We cannot easily change who our teachers or pastors or elders are. We cannot easily change where we live or who our neighbors are. We cannot easily change what city or country we live in.
If we would desire to change some of these situations, we would first need to earnestly inquire of Yahuwah [the LORD], and seek His guidance and direction!
As saints of the Most High, we should pursue His direction for us in every area of life. We should earnestly seek to discern Father’s desire for us concerning any decisions!
However, if we, in our own strength and understanding, seek to change, or free ourselves from our natural, earthly circumstances, without the Father’s clear direction — well, that would certainly be disastrous and heartbreaking! That would be as though we were pulling and tugging to release our neck from His yoke!
It is to our own benefit that we yield to our loving Master, within the confines of our natural circumstances. Each day, the Master presents us with opportunities to learn to yield, learn to obey Him, and learn to cooperate with Him, within the setting of our natural circumstances. This is how we begin to learn our spiritual lessons.
When, and if, the time comes for a major change within our natural circumstances, Yahuwah will make the arrangements, and set up the circumstances, without resulting in a spiritually sore and aching neck for us!
What are some steps that would help us as we are learning to be in partnership with Him?
What steps would help us learn our spiritual lessons?
We looked at a few steps in this process in Tips For Being A Yoke-Mate. But for now, we will look at only one specific, and very important, step — that is, learning Messiah’s character.
Learning Messiah’s Character
Learning the characteristics of our fellow Yoke-Mate is the very important, and hugely beneficial, first step! We are to learn Yahushua’s character, and then begin to behave with His meekness and lowliness of heart:
“…I am among you as He that serves.” (Luke 22:27)
“…learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” (Matthew 11:29)
“…leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: …when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not.” (1Peter 2:21-23)
As these Scriptures teach us, Yahushua Messiah came to serve. He is our example for servanthood!
We are to be as a servant among the particular people in our lives, that is, the people that are in the midst of our natural circumstances! This is ‘following in His steps!’ Our natural realm of circumstances is the place where we are to learn to be a servant, just like our fellow Yoke-Mate did, who said, “I Am Among You As He That Serves.”
Learning to behave as a servant with meekness and lowliness of heart will make our walk with our fellow Yoke-Mate much more rewarding and restful and easy. Having a servant’s heart is the KEY to learning from our fellow Yoke-Mate. Yahushua Messiah had a servant’s heart! He served those among Him, serving those who were inferior, lowly, needy, afflicted, and ignorant.
Our Saviour emptied Himself, took the form of a servant and humbled Himself, in order to serve us, to love us, and to bring us into fellowship with Him and the Father (Philippians 2:5-8). He is our example, teaching us to be as a servant among all those in our midst.
Our behaviour especially, is to include guarding our tongue, just as Messiah did. No corrupt communication came out of His mouth (Ephesians 4:29)! We too are to avoid dishonesty, unforgiveness, faultfinding, complaining, and condemnation! We must be careful to guard our tongue among those we relate with regularly!
The Ways of The Master
Messiah’s character qualities — humility, yieldedness, faithfulness, servanthood — are the characteristics and the ways of The Master. These are the traits needed for those who choose to partner with Yahushua, within His yoke.
When we begin to behave according to these qualities in the natural, earthly realm, then in the spiritual realm we will begin to see beneficial consequences and rewards. This is a KEY to blessings — a key to our well-being!
He tells us that we will be blessed, things will begin to go well with us, when we are following His example:
“Blessed is every one that fears Yahuwah [the LORD]; that walks in His ways” (Psalms 128:1).
But we must begin with our behaviour in the natural realm first, and behave as a servant, before the spiritual benefits become evident.
- For more insight on keys to our well-being, see That It May Be Well With You – Part 1 & Part 2.
If we resist the Master’s training for us, in the natural realm, then we are ‘rubbing against the yoke.’
To resist the yoke of Yahushua is to refuse to learn from the One who is meek and lowly of heart. Resisting the ways of our fellow Yoke-Mate will only gain us a spiritually wounded and raw neck!
Notice this passage in Proverbs:
My son, despise not the chastening of Yahuwah [the LORD]; neither be weary of His correction: For whom Yahuwah loves He corrects; even as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
As these verses teach us, it is in our natural, everyday unique circumstances and situations where Father chastens, corrects, and transforms us. That is where we are being trained to yield to our Yoke-Mate.
Our Yoke-Mate is the Spirit of Messiah living within us. Our training occurs in the day-to-day natural settings of our life! And these details within our natural, earthly circumstances are not minor and insignificant, but rather, they are very significant.
Father lovingly uses each circumstance and relationship within the natural realm to instruct us and teach us eternal, spiritual lessons. If we are cooperating and yielding to the directions of Scripture, then in the spiritual realm, we are maturing and becoming more and more fit for the Master’s use.
However, none of us can do this on our own! We need His help to daily study and learn His Word, and to learn how to cooperate and yield to His leading.
Often it is very difficult and painful to yield to our Yoke-Mate’s direction. Many times we agonize over the confines of His yoke. Yet we must never give up seeking to learn of Him, seeking to obey the Word of Yahuwah because He loves us abundantly, and He has our best interests in mind!
Asking Father For His Grace
How can we learn the spiritual lessons Father wants to teach us?
We must begin to do what we can, in the natural realm! We can begin by learning His Word and hiding His Word in our heart:
Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (Psalms 119:11)
God’s Word in our heart helps us to not sin, as this verse shows us.
We can also begin to pray regularly, asking for Father’s enabling grace to help us — asking His help to be of a meek, gentle, and teachable spirit. We can pray for His strength and humility, to be a “DO-er” of His Word, and learn to be a servant among those within our earthly setting. Being a servant is how we show our honour for Yahuwah as our loving Master.
Let us earnestly seek Father’s grace to learn to be as Messiah is — yielded, meek, and lowly of heart. It takes great courage and strength of character to be a servant among those in our midst! Being a servant is not for wimps!
We can ask for the courage to be sensitive and tender-hearted to His correction. If we are sincere, then little by little, we will begin to see progress in our spiritual growth and maturity.
“Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength. The Father taught me in my helplessness to pray, even about little things, in which another might have felt able to handle himself.” — J. Hudson Taylor
Being yoked together with Yahushua means we have chosen to learn of Him. By faith, we have entered into partnership with Yahushua to follow His example.
His example of humility, yieldedness, faithfulness, and servanthood are eternal, yoke-mate qualities. These spiritual, eternal characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven are built into our lives within the unique, natural realm of our own life — the arena where Father is training us for His service.
Let us remember that our Yoke-Mate, Yahushua Messiah, is the greatest example of servanthood, humility, brokenness, and obedience! Yahushua courageously endured agony, pain, and injustice. He successfully completed all the work that Father sent Him to do — in the natural, earthly realm! The awesome spiritual benefits for His work in the natural, earthly realm are abundantly available for all who come to Him!
Yielding, though painful and agonizing at times, results in a most precious fragrance – a broken and contrite spirit! Yahuwah is near to such precious servants! (Psalms 34:18 and 51:17)
It is our yielded, teachable heart, and obedience to Father’s Word in the natural realm, that produces spiritual growth and benefits.
Let us ever seek for humility and servanthood among those within our natural realm! Thus we will begin to reap the spiritual blessings of peace, contentment, and maturity.
May we all be quick to remember the profound implications of this most important spiritual principle:
FIRST the Natural, and Then the Spiritual!
- Please see the companion post: Tips For Being A Yoke-Mate
- Messiah Is Our Example
- Changing From Glory to Glory – the process of change we experience the moment our spiritual eyes become opened, and we begin to see God’s Light
- Acquiring A Teachable Heart – learning to lay down our own understanding, in exchange for His understanding
- Gleanings of Wisdom
- Learning from Affliction
- Do you know how to add? If so, you’re on the road to perfection – seven attributes to add to your faith
- Walking By Faith
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