146 – THE TWO YOKES
According to the Holy Scriptures, within Christianity there are two testaments, two covenants, two laws, and two yokes: one yoke in the Old Testament and one yoke in the New Testament. Let us begin by clarifying what is a yoke. Yoke is slavery or bondage. All yoke is heavy and oppressive. Jehovah spoke to his people by the mouth of Moses, saying: “I am Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you should not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect” (Lev.26:13).
As the people of Israel multiplied very much in the land of Egypt, there came another Pharaoh, after the death of Joseph, who did not know him. In order to weaken the people, he took heavy measures: “So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Ramses” (Ex.1:11). “And they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field” (Ex.1:14). This was the atmosphere of hard slavery to which Jehovah sent Moses with a rod of iron, until Pharaoh, overcome by the terrible plagues, let the people go free to serve Jehovah in the desert (Ex.8:29; 9:1).
The people left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea in a spectacular way, and went into the desert. That multitude of about two million people, seeing their children cry for hunger and thirst, murmured against Moses and Jehovah. Jehovah, offended, sent fire from heaven, killing the ones on the outskirts of the camp (Num.11:1-6). On the third month after the exit of the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, they arrived to the desert of Sinai, and Jehovah called Moses to the mount (Ex.19:1-3). Moses remained forty days there to receive the laws and the statutes of Jehovah. In the chapter that deals with the curses of Jehovah, we read about the reward for disobedience: “Therefore you shall serve your enemies whom Jehovah shall send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you” (Deut.28:48).Let us look at the yoke of the law of Jehovah, to see if it was heavier than the yoke of Egypt, since Jehovah had promised deliverance, and now he threatens with a yoke if the people of Israel will transgress.
- “Cursed shall be the offspring of your body” (Deut.28:18). While under the yoke of Egypt, the fruit of their womb was blessed, for we read: “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out” (Ex.1:12). The yoke of Jehovah is worse than the yoke of Egypt, and it is evil, for it falls upon the innocent children.
- “Jehovah will make the pestilence cling to you until He has consumed you from the land, where you are entering to possess it” (Deut.28:21). “Jehovah will smite you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors and with the scab and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed” (Deut.28:27). The yoke of Jehovah is heavier and darker than that of Egypt, under Pharaoh.
- “And the heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron. Jehovah will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed” (Deut.28:23-24). Under the yoke of Egypt, the people ate to their fill, for they called out with these words: “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone” (Num.11:5-6). Also, as to the food, the yoke of Jehovah is worse than the yoke of Pharaoh.
- “An you shall grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you” (Deut.28:29). In Egypt, there was darkness for the Egyptians, but not for Israel (Ex.10:21-23).
- In Egypt, all of the first-born of men and animals were killed. There was not a house where there was not a death, and the crying and tears of the Egyptians was very great, but not a single Israelite died. The executioner of the sentence was the very Jehovah. The Egyptians, though, could bury their dead. In the yoke of Jehovah, which turned against his people, mothers killed their own children for food. “Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom Jehovah your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy shall oppress you” (Deut.28:53). No doubt the yoke of Jehovah is unbearably heavier. The yoke of the law is so monstrous that the apostle Paul said: “Why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). And when did Peter declare this? When the Christians of the sect of the Pharisees were trying to force the Gentiles to be circumcised and to obey the law of Jehovah (Acts.15:1-9).
- To end up the cursed project of extermination of his own people, Jehovah transformed Jerusalem into a hellish furnace (Is.31:9). After that, he sent Israel to the Assyrian captivity, where they were almost completely destroyed. “And Jehovah rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight” (2 Kings 17:20). This happened around 720 AC.
- One hundred and thirty years after that, Jehovah handed the kingdom of Judah over to Nebuchadnezzar, his servant, who took the people to Babylon, to a terrible captivity, where their women were violated and their princes hung, their old were not reverenced, their young had to grind the wheat in the place where oxen worked before. There was only crying and no song, and their skin became dark with the sun. And the people, with no god, did not have anyone to cry to, for Jehovah was deaf (Lam.5:10-14; Ezek.8:18). The promise of freedom made by Moses was false.
Let us look at what the Lord Jesus Christ has made, according to what the apostle Paul has revealed:“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree’” (Gal.3:13). All the suffering that Israel suffered in the various captivities, Jesus suffered to be able to free man from the cursed yoke of Jehovah. All the condemnation, all the abandonment, all the pain and anguish, Jesus suffered to destroy the curses of the law of Jehovah. Jews as well as Greeks, Medes and Parthians, Elamites and those who dwelt in Cappadocia, Asia, Phrygia and Pamphlet, Egypt and parts of Libya, Cyrene, Roman foreigners, Jews and proselytes, all were under the grace, and free from the curses of Jehovah. The violence of the destroyer ceased. This is why Jesus told to everyone: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light” (Matt.11:28-30; Acts 2:9-10).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira