Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 ESV
Yoke – Yesterday we connected Paul’s idea of “bond” with Yeshua’s statement about “yoke.” “Freedom comes in chains,” we said. When Yeshua invites us to take His yoke, He is not offering liberty. He is offering glorious constraint; constraint that instructs us in a way of life delivered from toxic anxiety and confusion. But the Greek word zygos has another meaning that heightens His invitation. Zygos also means “scales.” It is found in Revelation 6:5 and in Leviticus 26:26 (LXX). The horseman of judgment comes with scales in his hand. He will weigh the deeds of men. But by what standard? Both the rabbis and Yeshua tell us that the standard for these scales is the “yoke” of the law (Torah), an excellent wordplay in Greek!
Do you suppose that the translator of Yeshua’s words in Matthew’s Greek had this wordplay in mind? When you hear, “Take my yoke upon you,” do you also hear, “Take my scales upon you”? Do you connect “yoke” and “law”? It would be hard to read the Greek translation of Yeshua’s Hebrew without making this connection.
Far too often we read this verse without its connection to Jeremiah or its nuances in Greek. We read the verse with the eyes of Plato and Aristotle. We think Yeshua is offering assistance (forgiveness and restoration) without obligation, at least without obligation to others. We want rest, not duty. So we convert zygos into something akin to “removing all my burdens.” We look for Platonic peace, that is, freedom from everyone else. But zygos as “scales” can never provide such fictitious folly. All of Torah is about obligation – to God and to others. The “Law” is a way of living in the world, among those who occupy the same place and time. When we take on Yeshua’s zygos, we take on the standard which the third horseman brings. There is no rest without scales just as there is no peace without chains.
Perhaps this is enough for today. Perhaps we have already been convicted of our ungodly desire to be “free” of all those burdens of others. Perhaps the horseman finds us wanting.
Topical Index: Matthew 11:29, yoke, zygos, freedom, law, Torah
TRAVEL NOTES: In about a week, I will be traveling to Europe where I will lecture on a cruise ship through the Greek islands. Don’t worry, Today’s Word will continue as usual and all your book orders will be taken care of without delay. I will just be out of email contact for some time.