Yoke in the Bible – Definition | Word Study

yoke in the bible word picture

Definition of Yoke:

  • In literal sense, the word ‘Yoke’ means a bar of wood, so constructed as to unite two animals (usually oxen), enabling them to work in the fields, drawing loads, pulling instruments used for farming.
  • Figuratively, It is a symbol of
    • Slavery (1 Tim 6:1)
    • Servanthood (Lev 26:13:”I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” Also Jer 27:8-12)
    • Submission, Forced Subjection
    • Burden, Load
    • Oppression (Is 9:4)
    • Bondage to Sin (Lam 1:14: “My sins have been bound into a yoke, by his hands, they were woven together…”)
  • The Plowman (farmer) binds the yoke upon the neck of the oxen, so that it would not fall off or be shaken off. Yoke bound around the neck of man would cause his strength to diminish, one may waver and fall under the yoke (load).
Yoke in the Bible (NT):
  • Mt 11:28-30, Acts 15:10, 2 Cor 6:14, Phil 4:3 etc
  • Gal 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”
  • Paul in Gal 5:1 and Peter in Acts 15:10 talk about yoke of bondage that the Law brings, the yoke that no one can carry. The requirements of the Law are beyond our capacity!
  • Rom 8:2 – “Because through Christ Jesus, the law of spirit has set me free from the law of sin and death.”
  • Christ Jesus has set us free from the yoke of bondage through the law. Jesus took upon himself the yoke of Law and fulfilled it. Therefore, through him, we can be set free from the yoke of sin and death.
  • Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened 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 will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
  • Jesus invites all who are under the yoke of Law or sin and offers the true rest for their souls.
  • We may visualize this as Jesus being the master or a farmer and us being yoked with a lighter load. But that is NOT the right picture.
  • Farmers used to yoke the young ox with the old experienced ox to train them. The old ox will take the major load and the young one will be walking along and learning from him. If you read this verses in light of this, it makes more sense.
  • What a wonderful picture, Jesus is giving to those who are exhausted, weary and burdened from carrying the load by themselves! What a comfort, peace, joy and rest it is to know that Jesus is right with us, walking with us, teaching us and strengthening us side by side!

Bible lesson:

  • We may be under the yoke of sin, oppression, guilt, failures, anxieties (1 Pet 5:7), or worries. Jesus has set us free from the yoke, we just need to COME to him and cast our heavy burden on him. And he will give the rest for our souls. (Also check out Christian Discipleship: Seven Conditions)

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Comments

  1. john says

    Thank you for the clear exposition. May I add: The yoke of sin and Law was burdensome; the yoke that Jesus gives us is ‘grace’ through faith in HIs finished work. God bless you.

  2. mariejoy says

    Mt. 11:29 take my yoke upon you…11:30 for my yoke is easy…
    When we allow Jesus Christ to control ourlives, every struggles that we have will be easy to take. Heavy burdens will become light ‘coz there is someone who can take that burden for us. It’s about trusting our cares unto the Lord and standing on His promises. Only through him we can find rest to our weary souls,,unto Him an empty heart will be filled,,unto Him there is peace to a troubled mind….How amazing to know that Jesus never leave us nor forsake us,,but someone needs to believe in Him and choose to allow Him to enter into his/her life…God be with you!

  3. Bible SEO says

    Thank You Mariejoy,

    You have said it wonderfully. Truly, we can find true rest and renewal of our souls through Him only. Thank you for your insightful comment.

  4. says

    I love the part of the bible lesson you said “Jesus has set us free from the yoke, we just need to COME to him and cast our heavy burden on him” – Great post.

  5. JAMES IYIOLA says

    YOKE IS UNAVOIDABLE IN LIFE. EITHER ONE LIKE IT OR NOT YOU MUST BE UNDER ONE YOKE. THE ONE THAT IS EASY (JESUS) OR THE HARD ONE (DEVIL)

  6. says

    I was looking for a picture of a yoke and came across your article. Thanks so much for the great “word-picture” of how Jesus invites to allow Him to come alongside of us, bearing the majority of our load of cares.

  7. Amit Christian says

    Thanks Evangeline. Yes, it is a beautiful word picture of Jesus carrying burden right along with us.

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