Suggested Reading: Isaiah 14:24-27
Our faith pleases God, not our ability to keep all the rules. If we could keep all the rules, Christ died for nothing! The truth is that when we place our faith in God’s Way of saving us, that same faith will produce within us the desire to obey God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then we obey Him because we love Him; not because we have to.
In this portion in Isaiah, there is a reference to a “yoke” and an “Assyrian.” We already know that what God says will become a reality. However, in some places in Scripture, it appears as if God wants to emphasize that fact. “The LORD Almighty has sworn…” is like placing an emphasis on something really important. For me it’s a call to sit up and pay really close attention.
He starts by referring to the “Assyrian” in His land. It appears this Assyrian is in a place that does not belong to him. He is in God’s territory, imposing burdens on God’s people. Although this prophecy refers to geographical location, it also bears spiritual meaning which is still very relevant today. “His yoke will be taken from my people.” The Assyrian placed a yoke on God’s people. God didn’t place it there.
There are various places in the Bible that refers to a yoke, but I will name two:
- Jesus invited all those that are weary and heavy-laden to come to Him and He will give them rest. His “yoke” is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
- Paul refers to the fact that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1). He then warns us not to be burdened again by the yoke of slavery. The Greek word for yoke used in this verse is the word zugos, which, according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, means: “Troublesome laws imposed on one, especially of the Mosaic law. Hence the name is so transferred to the commands of Christ as to contrast them with the commands of the Pharisees which were a veritable ‘yoke’” Paul thus refers to religious rules and regulations which have no power to change us or contain wrong desires within us. We should be careful that we don’t become enslaved by them again. On these powerless things, Paul wrote: “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2:23).
God does not intend to change us into better people. He desires to create in us a new person. “If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation…” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We don’t need self-improvement programs. We need to be born again! Charles Spurgeon summed it up so well when he wrote:
“The Holy Spirit does not attempt to improve human nature into something better, but lays the axe at the root of the trees, and declares that we must become new creatures, and that by a supernatural work of the omnipotent God.”
Rule-keeping cannot achieve this. The yoke of religion places heavy burdens on people, causing them to become weary and leaving little evidence of change. Week after week they go through the same motions. They go through the same church routine, week in and week out and they do not change. But there is hope: In Jesus Christ, God has removed this yoke from His people: “His yoke will be taken from my people, and his burden removed from their shoulders.”
Jesus was anointed to set the captives free.This plan of deliverance from religious slavery is not limited to a certain geographical location: “This is the plan determined for the whole world…” Isn’t it written that God so loved the whole world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life? That word “whoever” excludes no one. No one who believes in Him will be excluded from everlasting life.
Since God has determined for these things to happen, it will happen and no one can stop Him. When He acts, who can reverse it? When we look at these words as pointing to salvation through faith in Christ and not in works, they have already been fulfilled when He said on that Cross, “It is finished.” Now we are saved by grace through faith. Therefore, “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Our works could never draw His pleasure upon us, since we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Only by faith in Christ, can our works be pleasing to the Lord.