Nahum 1:13. And now I will break his yoke from off you
and will burst your bonds apart.”
In these modern times, we barely know what to do with Nahum’s language. Yoke? Bonds? What is he even talking about? We are free. We are slaves to no one. We have personal autonomy. We make our own decisions and control our own lives.
But the truth is we don’t. Every one of us is a slave to something. Every one of us wears a yoke. Every one of us is in bondage.
Why? Because that’s what we were made for. We were created by God to be servants. To be yoked to something (or someone). We were placed in the Garden of Eden to be those who “tend” or “serve” (the same word as slave) that garden. We actually aren’t autonomous at all. We are meant to be slaves of God.
But we have free will! Yes, but our free will decisions just determine who we are enslaved to. God or something else.
Sadly, most of us are deceived about our own bondage. We simply can’t identify the yoke we are wearing. It’s always that other guy, the drug addict, or the porn watcher that’s enslaved. That poor little teen age girl starving for attention online. She’s in bondage. But not me. Thank God I’m not enslaved. I’m free.
But we are deceived.
Like Judah in Nahum’s day, we are actually surrounded by an enemy army that wants to drag us away into bondage and mock us. And so we make little subconscious deals with the devil every day. Each time we choose grumbling over faith, or discontentment over peace. Each time we choose to win the argument rather than choosing to win the other person’s heart. And ironically we are most often enslaved each time we choose our freedom and autonomy over joyful submission and sacrifice.
But God won’t stand for us being enslaved to something else other than himself. That is the hope filled truth that the prophet Nahum is declaring to Judah. God won’t let the Assyrian king enslave them forever. Assyria’s yoke will be broken, and King Ashurbanipal’s chains will be burst apart. Nahum predicts the destruction of Assyria and he calls it good news.
Nahum 1:15. Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him
who brings good news,
who publishes peace!
Keep your feasts, O Judah;
fulfill your vows,
for never again shall the worthless pass through you;
he is utterly cut off.
Yokes broken. Chains burst. The worthless enemy utterly cut off. This is the message brought by the feet of him who brings good news. A message for Judah, but also for you and for me. Good news brought by the feet of Jesus Christ. God’s final prophet.
But Jesus is more than the herald of good news. He IS the good news. He is God’s new yoke for us. He is God’s new bondage. By Christ’s death and resurrection God has broken our yokes and burst our bondage freeing us to be enslaved to him by our union with Christ. Christ our new yoke. Jesus our new bondage.
And this is good news.
Why? Because his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The message of Christ’s good news for us is that through our union with him we are set free so that we can be enslaved. We are freed to be in bondage. Jesus’ sacrifice teaches us that true freedom comes only in giving up our lives for others. We find our lives when we lose them. We become first when we become last. We live by dying. Because only under Christ’s yoke of grace and only when bound to his love can we find the glorious freedom from self that comes from learning to love as he does.
Self-autonomy, ruling your own little kingdom, living for your agenda, following your heart, finding your “authentic self,” realizing your dreams, these are actually a soul crushing yoke, an enslaving bondage to the self.
But “to live is Christ” means that every yoke is broken and ever shackle is burst open. And now we gladly wear the easy yoke of Christ. A bondage that brings his freedom. Freedom from the self. Freedom from the Worthless One’s lies. Freedom from the army of darkness surrounding our hearts. And that’s good news!
Whose yoke are you wearing today? Can you identify your bondage?
You in Christ
Are you experiencing the freedom from self-autonomy that Christ offers?
Christ in you
How can your bondage in Christ become your freedom to love others today?
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