Series: General | Title: Bear the Yoke in your Youth | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday, March 05, 2017
Lamentations 3:27-28 27 It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him;
I would like to title my message this morning as “Bear the Yoke in your Youth”. This is a sermon which is going to be mainly centered on youth, young couples and all of us. Because all of us are young.
- Book of Lamentations is a book written by Jeremiah, the prophet. We would say the book of Lamentation is of sorrowful songs or poems of Jeremiah.
- Every man needs to get an opportunity to cry. I don’t know if your spouse allows that but if spouse is not allowing, probably you need to find a place to go in silence and spend time in crying. Every man has to get that opportunity to cry at some point of time. Crying is always good.
- Jeremiah was prophesying in the book of Jeremiah but now he took an opportunity to cry and that his cry, we see as Lamentations. He is expressing his grief on something.
- Jeremiah writes this, just after the exile of the children of Israel by the Babylonians. If you know the history around 183 BC, Jeremiah was living at that point of time. Children of Israel were taken as captive by Babylonians to Babylon. So Jeremiah was writing this book of Lamentation, worrying about children of Israel have gone through captivity and how the temple of God is destroyed. In fact Jeremiah was an eyewitness for the Babylonian captivity. He predicted the destruction that is about to come upon the land, he was watching it happening in front of his own eyes. Now in this book, it is a sad reflection of what was happening to the people of God.
- The purpose here is to teach God’s people, the disobedience that they went through in their lives and the effect of disobedience, the immense suffering that was brought forth in the lives of children of Israel. That is the focus here. Jeremiah is going over and over again on the disobedience that they showed to God and he is lamenting over the sufferings, those disobedience brought into their lives.
- Chapter 3 specially talks about the affliction of the Lord, when they disobeyed God. What you sow is, what we reap. When we disobey God, we know in the bottom of our heart, the sufferings that we are going to encounter soon in our lives. But knowing this, children of Israel were not obeying God. That’s the reason, Jeremiah was lamenting. Because he prophesied over the people saying that, if you are careless, if you fail to observe the sabbath day, if you fail to give importance to God’s work, the destruction is going to come upon the land. But they were totally disobeying.
Now he says in Verse 27 It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him;
What is a yoke?
A yoke is a wooden beam which is used between a pair of animals usually oxen to pull a heavy load which is attached to that yoke in a cart or may be a plow is attached to that yoke. So the animals are used to carry this heavy load as those two animals are connected with a beam, that’s what we call it as Yoke.
- In scriptural sense Yoke refers to Responsibilities, the burden God is giving us, the obligation God is giving us, the commitment God is giving us. They all can be considered as Yoke.
- Bear the Yoke means, accepting those things in our lives, shouldering those things, subjecting our lives to those burdens, that load we carry in our lives.
Who are the youth/ young people?
These scriptures are very well focused on youth. But none of us are exempted from what the scripture is saying. Last week, these thoughts were coming in my mind, that none of us are old. All of us are young. There is a spiritual sense in it. None of us is old until we leave this world. When we are done with this world, we leave this world, we become old. Because scripture says in:
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
The moment you are born again, you are a new creation. But this new creation is going to remain until we leave this world. The moment we leave this world, this body becomes old. Its good for nothing. Until then this body is young. I was going through the commentary written by Spurgeon. Spurgeon says that same thing. So this scripture that we see here, it really means to all of us, those who are sitting here and those who are listening to me online. The moment our spirit is taken out of us, the body is considered old.
Youth is not really willing to take any responsibility:
We are living in a materialistic world where people don’t want to take any responsibility;
- Unless there is a monitory benefit attached to it. If you call somebody to do a work, they will say, how much you will pay for this. You try to give job to youth and they will try to escape out of it, most of the time. Not everybody, but then there are very few willing to do it.
- If there is no fun and entertainment attached to it, nobody, no youth want to do anything, for even in that matter in the church.
- If there is accountability and there is commitment, nobody wants to do that job.
- If the cause is difficult and requires real hard work, you don’t find anybody there.
Especially with the youth of our generation. Young people are not willing to take any responsibility. They all are driven by selfishness, that becomes the way of life of today.
Where as Bible says, It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth.
That’s the reason, even in churches services need to be fun filled today. Church services need to be entertaining today. If you call somebody for youth ministry, youth meeting, they will ask; What movie we are playing today ? Do we have popcorn? Do we serve ice cream? If you have all this, I am willing to come for the youth meeting. We are living in the age, that’s what we see. We really do not know how we parents are going to bring up our children in this generation. Where as Jeremiah says;
It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth.
Young children need this yoke on them:
Young children need this yoke on them and oxen need to be brought under this yoke otherwise the oxen is of no use. The oxen go walk miles after miles but it is not of any use unless an oxen is brought under this yoke. A horse needs to be accustomed to bits and bridles, otherwise we cannot control a horse and it just runs wherever it wants to go. The same way children need to be brought under this yoke. We are not saying to torture the children. We are saying in a biblical way we need to bring our children under this yoke.
- We see children telling parents most of the time, “Dad we are living in 21st Century. You don’t know what it takes to live in this generation because you have not gone through it. You never experienced all these things. But what we are living or doing today, you don’t really understand just obey me and listen to me what I am saying”. Children look at their parents and this is what they say.
- If as parents we don’t impose yoke on our children, we can’t expect them to come up like what you are today.
Turn back to your days:
We have not grown in the same fashion that children are growing today. I want you to turn back to your life way back, years ago.
- Your life was rough and it was tough that brought you today what you are and who you are.
- Your parents were so tough on you at times, when we were growing up and that brought what you are today.
- Marriage life was miserable for few year but you went through it, you took the yoke on yourself. Today, by the grace of God, you both are living together as a family. Yoke is very very important for any family.
When I turned back my childhood days, they were not very smooth at all. I was out of home at the age of five and a half. Away from parents with the grand parents. Once in a year I get the opportunity to visit my parents. The rest of the time I was just living on myself from the age of five and a half. Very early in the age to my life I got exposed to all the filthy things of this world without knowing what they were. Later on I was raised by my uncle with a very strict manner. The village, we lived, there was no electricity. I need to sit under the street light and study. At times we get kerosene lamps at home but it was very busy and crowded because many children came and they wanted to study together because there was no electricity until I was in 7th grade or something. Even at the early childhood age I was trained for every farm related work. I remember the day when I had to carry heavy stuff , but I was not raised in that way until five and a half year age. So life was not very smooth in my early days. I felt loneliness because of separation from parents, I couldn’t handle it. There were nights I was awake. If there was a death in the village, I couldn’t sleep for days together because I don’t understand what was going on. I got couple of very close friends. But those friends lived in the graveyard. They were not good friends. I came to know all the evil practices and how they deal with the devil. How they speak to the evil spirits, night they go to house to house and they prophesied in a bad way. They were my friends at that time because they were very fascinating as I didn’t know what was going on in my life until my mom join when I was in grade eight or nine.
I want everyone of you to turn back the days when you were a child or you were youth. But all those things in my life made me to think what is the reality in life. They brought so much of discipline in my life and they were a heavy yoke upon my life. The loneliness, separation and the torture because of that I was going through within me. But God brought me out of it. Now I realized the reason why I went through all these things in my life. So much of discipline in different areas were brought by those things which I experienced in very early childhood days. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in your youth. Not just me, we all have testimony to share. So what you went through in your life in your youth made you what you are today. Some of us may be still struggling in our lives. Specially many of you are in nursing field. You are given false promises by the visa processing agencies when you are coming to Canada. Because of those false promises you landed here and when you landed here and start working, you realized that it’s not that what was told. Everything was false. Here you need to study for two more years and you need to get license. You need to pass English examination and you need to pay for job position even then your status is not permanent. There is so much of hardship that most of us go through.
But remember what scripture says, ”It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth”.
Yoke is all about the necessity of hardships that you and I need in my life. When Jeremiah says, there is no point in complaining what you are going through. Its all needed. God is allowing all those things in your life, to make you as a new creation, to make you and build character in your life.
I remember there were many days in my childhood, I kept this scripture open in front of me and I wanted to understand what the scripture is talking about but I never got an opportunity to listen to any sermon like this. I wanted to know what the scripture is talking about, it is something about me. I wanted to associate myself with this scripture. But this morning we are able to go through the scripture.
What are the yokes that God is talking about in this scripture?
1. The Yoke of subjection to authority:
One who does not learn this when he is young, he is going to suffer in his lifetime in the future. Submitting to authority is something that you and I need to know and learn. Not that somebody is greater than somebody but the authority is established by God. The scripture says
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
Not only in church, in our workplace, in our schools, in our houses, the authority is appointed by God, that’s what scripture says. God has established authority everywhere in every places.
- Scripture says in Ephesians 6:1-2 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise”
Children obey your parents. Parents are given an authority by God. You and I need to obey as children to our parents. As parents if you continue to approve disobedience to your children, you are sinning.
Bible says in Roman 1:29-32, “Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immoralities, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, deceit, evil mindedness, whisperers, back biters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.” They will not enter into the Kingdom of God. These are the sinful things. Disobedience is listed along with adultery. Disobedience is a sin. As parents we need to teach this to our children.
- As a citizen of this nation Roman 13:1-7 talks about need to obey all the authorities that God has established. That person may be a godly man or may not be a godly man but the authority is established by God.
- Scriptures says in 1 Peter 3:1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,
Wives are called to bring them under subjection to the authority and according to scripture husband is given the authority. Wives need to be submissive to that authority. Scripture says, even if some do not obey God. Husband may be an evil person, he may not be a godly person but still without a word, obey, be submissive to your husband, may be you can win him by your good conduct. If you still be submissive to your husband, he will realize that you are the child of God and he will turn back to God. Wining by character.
- Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you
When you be a part of a church, for your souls, pastors are accountable. Whether he prays for you, he doesn’t pray for you, God is going to ask the question for him. That’s a benefit of coming under the covering. That’s why God has established the church. And scripture says, Obey those rule over you and be submissive for they watch over your souls as those who must five account. They need to give account. Let them do so with the joy and not with grief. For that would be unprofitable to you. That’s the reason we say that do not grieve any children of God. Because if they grieve over you, its not going to be good for you, that’s what the scripture says. So first the yoke that God is giving upon our lives and certainly we need to make sure that the yoke is placed upon your children is yoke of subjection to authority.
2. The Yoke of self control and self restraint:
Young children again need to be taught on this. They need to know that they cannot live the way they want. They need to control their desires. We are living in a country where there is a lot of freedom. If we don’t teach to our children what are the biblical standards, the standards of this world will become their standards. It is our responsibility to teach our children what bible says about controlling ourselves. They need to be told very clearly that sexual desire, until marriage need to be controlled. Not many parents talk about this with their children. They need to be taught by you and me because Bible says in
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Marriage is honorable, that means there is no sexual relationship before marriage because marriage is honorable. The bed is undefiled. Bible very clearly forbids premarital sexual relationships. Children need to know this and we need to teach our children because we are living in a nation where we have total freedom for this. Today, many churches, they don’t teach about it but It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.
On the other day, the parent were telling me,”Oh my daughter, she found the right boyfriend. I am really happy about it”. When we say sexual relationship before marriage they asked me a question,”What do you think about dating? They are not into sexual relationship what do you think about dating?” The simple answer to that is, we know what is sin and anything that is leading to sin, is sin. If premarital sex is sin then dating before marriage can lead your son/daughter to make that sin. Then that becomes the sin too. And we need to put that yoke upon our children otherwise we will lose our children. They will not be with us. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.
As young families, we need to be very careful teaching this to our children and also as a family we need to be very careful not to bring a third person between our marriage because the same ways premarital sex is a sin, extramarital sex is also sin. Bible talks about it. Any sexual relationship outside marriage is forbidden in the word of God. And we need to be very careful. Young family or old family, it doesn’t really matter, it doesn’t leave anybody. Once God unites us together, it is an agreement we are entering for a lifetime. There are exceptions in the word of God that in what condition when a married woman and man can get remarried. Not in every situation.
2 Timothy 2:22 Scripture is asking us to flee from the lust of the flesh. A yoke that you and I need to have upon our shoulder.
Jesus said, Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. It is good for us to take the cross everyday. When do we take up the cross, when we say, no to those lustful things in our lives, when we say no to those things which are trying to enter in our family to destroy the peace and harmony that we have in our family, we are carrying the yoke in our lives and following Jesus.
Paul is writing to Titus in, Titus 2:12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
There are things that deny ungodliness, there are things which are in the worldly lust and God is asking you and me to come out of it. God wants us to walk in that holiness. God wants us to apply the yoke for our control as well as to bring up our children in a godly way.
3. The Yoke of suffering:
Sometimes we go through sufferings in our lives. Some of you would have gone through many suffering in your childhood days. God knows it. You have gone through terrible times in your life, the times when you were wondering that whether I will be able to come out of it anymore? But when you turn back to those things, you are able to say it is good that I went through it. Because many of the most noble men and women of God, they all went through troubles in their early life. (Think about Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Moses).
Sufferings that we go through today, they are not comparable to the weight of the eternal glory. 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Sufferings produce good character in our life. Romans 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
When we go through sufferings, God is making you. God is not trying to destroy us, discourage us or throw us away but instead God is working in our lives. When we go through sufferings and struggles in our lives, our character gets developed. Our character is built every time. What we are today, it doesn’t just come all of a sudden, it came over period of time in life. All the troubles, trails and temptations that we went through and there are timing we yielded to those temptations, we fell down and again got up. We are today stronger and courageous.
4. The Yoke of serving the Lord:
- Young people need to be engaged in the work of God. This is very important for the children of God.
- They need to learn in very early time, how to put the kingdom of God first. You need to give them the opportunity, for them to get engaged. May be in a youth group or children ministry or in a worship ministry or in a preaching ministry or in a outreach ministry. Just encourage them to be part of it. The more they are becoming part of it lesser the chance they will taste the things of this world. They will not go back once they taste the presence of the God, once they taste love of God in their lives, they will not go astray.
- Young children need to be taught to put the Lord God and the church before their own pleasures. At times there are very pleasing things outside but they need to be taught, What is important? Once you teach them, they will develop that character with in them.
- Children who do not learn this, bearing the yoke in the very early stages of their lives will bring sorrow to their own lives in their later stage. If as a parent we don’t put that yoke upon them today, they will bring shame to our family in the later days.
We are responsible parents for putting that yoke upon our children. Most of the young families, you need to engage your life in the work of God, it is very important.
- Our later time needs to be blessed, our later life needs to be protected. Only way we can do this is, engage when we have strength.
- God doesn’t really want us, when we are in wheel chair. When we are in our sick bed, God doesn’t really want you. God wants you now, when you have all your strength to serve God. It is good for us to get attached, where we can serve God.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you 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.”
Doing the work of God. God makes it easy because you are not alone carrying that yoke. One side you and the other side God himself is carrying that yoke along with you.
What is the yoke of Christ?
- It means commitment, sacrifice, self denial.
- It means losing at times, what we consider as gain for the sake of Gospel.
- It is also going wherever God is asking you to go. The reason some of the missionaries obeyed the call of God just because they were willing to take the yoke of the Christ upon them.
- Self denial, at times forsaking family.
Matthew 10:37 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. It is important that you need to take care of your children, it is important to do; What you need to do for your parents but God expects you to love him more than you love your children.
Luke 14:26 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. Discipleship is not easy thing. Serving God is not easy thing as you think. There is culture in this nation, saying that you just try to resign your job, try to get on full time ministry and see how God works and things work. If things don’t work, come back to work. What’s wrong in that. Scripture doesn’t really say that.
- Being available for others. Extending our lives to others.
- Fasting, praying and interceding for others.
- Studying and meditating God’s Word
- Preaching to others
- Helping young believers to come up in their career and life. Encouraging and training others.
2 Timothy 2:3-4 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. When you engage yourself into the warfare that means serving God, you cannot really go back to the world. That he may try to please the master always. At times hardships may be rejection by your own family members, at times hardship may be heavy sorrow that comes in your life because of various things going on in you family in your situation, at times you are expected to believe what you cannot see that may be a kind of yoke upon you. You just need to move by faith, at times you need to deal with offenses because you are pointed out, at times you need to carry Christ in your life. These are yoke of serving God.
Lamentations 3:27-28 27 It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth.28 Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him;
- The Yoke of subjection to authority
- The Yoke of self control and self restraint
- The Yoke of sufferings
- The Yoke of service to the Lord
If God is calling you to take His yoke upon you. Do not say no.