What is a Yoke?
There are two types of yokes. The first is the yoke of the Lord. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said “take my yoke upon you”. So, Jesus has a yoke which we must take on, which we must carry. A yoke is something that is given you to carry. The yoke of the Lord is what God gives us to carry as we go through life. Jesus said take my yoke upon you and learn from me. You need to be with Jesus to learn from Him. The call to learn from Jesus is a call to discipleship. The yoke God wants us to carry is the yoke of following after the Lord, keeping company with Him, abiding in Him, learning from Him, and becoming His disciple. This yoke refreshes our souls; it gives us peace and rest. I pray that after today’s service, the only yoke we will be carrying is the yoke of the Lord, the yoke of discipleship, the yoke of an intimate relationship with the Lord.
Then there is the yoke from the devil. The yoke of the devil is what the devil gives you to carry as you go through life. In Isaiah 10:27 the bible says it shall come to pass in that day (that day being today in this service), that his burden will be taken away from your shoulder; and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil. God will not destroy what is of Him. The yoke this scripture is referring to that needs to be taken away, that needs to be destroyed is the yoke from the devil. This yoke of the devil includes yokes like the yoke of barrenness. My prayer for every one of us is that as the Word of the Lord goes forth today, every yoke the devil has given us to carry, every evil load we are carrying will be removed from our shoulders today in Jesus mighty name, amen.
We can actually be responsible for some of the yokes the devil places on us like the yoke of barrenness. Through sin and disobedience to God’s Word (Deuteronomy 28:45-48), a door can be opened for the devil to place the yoke of barrenness on us. Deuteronomy 28 talks about blessings and curses. The blessings such as the blessing of fruitfulness are the benefits of a life of obedience to God, while the curses such as the curse of barrenness are a result of disobedience to God. Also, in Lamentations 1:14, the prophet Jeremiah talks about yokes brought by transgressions and sin, yokes that we have used our own hands to place on ourselves. Carelessness is another way we open a door for the enemy to place a yoke on us. In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus told a parable of how the enemy plants or places things on people while they are asleep. We are told that while men slept the enemy came and sowed tares. The sleep here is a state of carelessness, a state of not being spiritually awake and alert which can open a door for the enemy to place a yoke on someone. The good news for you and I today is that there is deliverance in this service for both the lawful and unlawful captives (Isaiah 49:24-26); there is deliverance for every yoke of barrenness we may have brought upon ourselves by our sin, disobedience and carelessness. There is also deliverance today for every yoke of barrenness that have come by no fault of ours.
The yoke of the Lord is easy and light to carry as Matthew 11:30 says. God will never lay anything heavy on us. God will never give us what we can’t bear, what we can’t handle, what we don’t have the capacity for (1 Corinthians 10:13, Matthew 25:15, Deuteronomy 16:17). We often act like its God’s yoke that is burdensome and wearisome. We act like having to come regularly to the presence of God, spending time with God, serving God, praying, fasting, reading God’s Word is such a drag and a big burden. God’s yoke isn’t a heavy weight to carry, if it appears heavy, burdensome and a big weight, we should check ourselves; are we trying to do God’s work and will in our human strength and wisdom not fully relying on the help and direction of the Holy Spirit, not depending completely on the grace of God? Are we doing the work the Holy Spirit should be doing in our lives, are we the ones directing, stirring and driving ‘the vehicle of our life’ instead of allowing the Holy Spirit lead? John the Baptist had an understanding that life and ministry can become strenuous, stressful and a weight on the shoulder when you are just doing things with your own limited knowledge, understanding and strength. Hence his statement “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30). In other words, for things to go smoothly, for me to fulfill my divine purpose, for me to please God and serve God effectively, something must give way and that thing has to be me; my will, my strength and my understanding so that God’s unlimited knowledge, understanding and strength can be fully visible and active in my life. This is when the yoke of the Lord becomes easy and light, but when things are done in the flesh, life becomes such a struggle. My prayer for you today is that you will cease from struggling today, you will allow the Holy Spirit have his way and will in your life.
Unlike the yoke of the Lord which is easy and light to carry, the yoke of the devil is very heavy to carry – this is because they are like bars of iron (Deuteronomy 28:48). The yoke of iron is heavy, it is hard to carry, it is uncomfortable. It represents someone who is a slave, someone in bondage, someone in captivity. Today, the Lord will destroy every iron yoke placed on us. In Isaiah 45:2, God says He will go before us and break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron. Every bar of iron, every yoke of barrenness placed on any area of your life will be cut off and destroyed as God’s presence goes before you. Psalm 107:16 says He has broken the gates of bronze, and cut the bars of iron. Every bar of iron, every yoke of barrenness will be cut off from our family church and nation. The iron bar of barrenness will be cut off from our spiritual life, finances, career, health, and marital life.
What are the effects of the Yoke of Barrenness?
You don’t have to be someone waiting on God for the blessing of a child before you know or understand what barrenness is, this is because barrenness cuts across every facet of life. It can affect a person’s spiritual life; relationship with God, finances, career, academics, physical and mental health and marital life the same way it can affect a person’s womb.
So let’s examine some of the signs or effects of barrenness; what are some of the things a person under the yoke of barrenness would be experiencing.
We have said the yoke of the enemy is heavy; the yoke of barrenness is one of the heavy iron yokes of the enemy. What do you think would happen to a person wearing on his or her neck an iron yoke for 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, or longer? PAIN. It would definitely cause neck pain. So the yoke of barrenness is a yoke that brings pain, barrenness brings physical and emotional pain. In 1 Samuel 1:1-7 – we see the pain Hannah was going through because she was barren.
• The pain of repeatedly carrying a heavy burden to the house of the Lord and returning back home with that same burden (1 Samuel 1:7). Many of us are like Hannah that year after year we have brought a particular burden to God’s house and have returned back with that same burden, that same problem. This can be so painful. It’s painful when you see others that had that same burden, but it has been lifted from their shoulder, meanwhile you are still carrying yours; you are still praying for a child, husband, job, academic or financial progress. You feel pain from praying about the same thing year in year out that it gets to a stage you don’t even know what to pray. You feel the pain of failure, the pain of disappointment, the pain of shattered hopes and dreams, which can make you feel there’s something wrong with you. Perhaps you don’t have enough faith, or you are being punished for your sins that is why you are going through this season of barrenness. The pain you feel which must have been the pain Hannah must have felt, is that you begin to wonder does God really hear prayers, is God even concerned about what you are going through? If you are in that situation today, I want to encourage you and assure you that God is very much concerned about that burden in your life. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, because Jesus, Your High Priest sees and feels what you are going through, He sees and feels your pain and He will definitely arise and act on your behalf. But you must not give up like Hannah didn’t give up. We see from Deuteronomy 28:48 that the goal of every yoke from the enemy is to destroy a person. The end goal of the yoke of barrenness whether spiritual, financial, marital, or physical barrenness is to destroy an individual. It is to make you doubt God, doubt His Word and then destroy your faith. What if Hannah had said to herself all these months and years I have been praying about a child nothing has happened, God hasn’t bothered to do anything about this need in my life, I won’t bother myself again? I give up. But she didn’t. Despite the pain, past disappointments, past failures, she prayed yet again, she trusted yet again, she held on to God one more time. It is your determination to hold on to God despite the pain, it is your resolve to pray yet again, to believe yet again, to trust yet again, to still keep coming to the house of God, the presence of God despite the number of times you have brought this same burden to God and there has been no change, no answer that will eventually shatter that yoke of barrenness.
- The pain of being insulted, mocked and ridiculed by people (1 Samuel 1:6). Where there is barrenness of any kind, somebody somewhere will be mocking you. People often insult and mock those who are barren; those who don’t have a child, a husband, a wife, a job, a car or money. They can pass some nasty comments to you or about you which can be very painful. As God put an end to insults in Hannah’s life when the yoke of barrenness was destroyed, every insult you have been experiencing as a result of any form of barrenness will come to an end today because today is the day that the burden of barrenness will be lifted, today is the day that the yoke of barrenness will be destroyed from your life.
• Pain that causes you to weep (1 Samuel 1:7). The pain of not having a child, the pain of being on the same level for so long, the pain of barrenness, the pain of lack of progress can bring tears to your eyes. It’s not only women that weep. Today whether you are a man or woman, young or old person that has been weeping because of the stagnation, emptiness and dryness the yoke of barrenness has brought into your life, God is going to wipe away your tears (Revelation 21:4) as He shatters every yoke of barrenness from your life. NO MORE BARRENNESS MEANS NO MORE WEEPING. Your season of weeping is over in Jesus mighty name, amen (Psalm 30:5).
2. Strain on relationships especially relationship with people close to you
We see from 1 Samuel 1:8 that there was a strain on the relationship between Hannah and her husband because of the yoke of barrenness. Hannah must have felt her husband didn’t understand and appreciate what she was going through. If he did, he wouldn’t be asking why do you weep, why do you not eat, why are you grieved in your heart? He didn’t understand how she felt every time she saw her monthly period; how it would shatter her. He didn’t understand how she felt when they went for functions and she was one of the only if not the only woman in that gathering that didn’t have a child. Elkanah, her husband, had his own share of pain and frustration. 1 Samuel 1:5 tells us that he would give her a double portion because he loved her. So he sincerely and genuinely loved her and was doing everything possible to assure her of his love. Giving her nice gifts, but then he felt she didn’t appreciate all of that, she didn’t really care about him, all she seemed to be concerned about, all that was important to her was having children. So you see that barrenness in the womb, financial barrenness; not having a regular and continuous flow of money, not progressing and growing spiritually, not moving forward academically has the potential to put a strain on the relationship between a husband and wife, it can affect your relationship with people you owe but can’t pay. It can affect your relationship with your pastor, colleagues at work, family members, and brethren in the church because it can bring about a lot of misunderstanding between people. Remember from Deuteronomy 28:48, the end goal of the yoke of barrenness is to destroy, to destroy anything and everything about us, to destroy relationships. Today, every relationship that has been strained by the yoke of barrenness will receive healing. God will arise and destroy the yoke of barrenness so it doesn’t destroy our marriages and other key relationships.
3. Fruitless efforts
You experience this when all your efforts seems fruitless; when you are doing something to change your situation but there’s no result, no change (1 Samuel 1:7). Hannah didn’t just sit down and fold her arms, she was doing something to be fruitful, she was seeking the face of God year in year out, but there was nothing to show for all her efforts. In Luke 5:1-9, Peter wasn’t sitting idly in his home expecting money to drop from heaven for him to take care of his family. He went out to fish, he went out to work, but despite all his hard work – “we have toiled all night”, he had nothing to show for his efforts (Luke 5:5). When the yoke of barrenness is on an individual’s life, it makes you labour in vain, it brings about fruitless effort. But today every yoke of barrenness will be destroyed and an end will come to fruitless efforts in our lives, families and church. God’s word to us today is that the yoke of barrenness will be destroyed and we shall not labour in vain, we shall eat the fruits of our labour for we are the blessed not cursed of the Lord (Isaiah 65:23, Psalm 128:2), we are redeemed through Christ Jesus from the curse of fruitless efforts (Deuteronomy 28:33, 38-39, Galatians 3:13).
The Cure for Barrenness
I’m sure someone of us can identify with some of these effects of barrenness; we or someone close to us is experiencing the physical and emotional pain, the strain on relationships, the fruitless efforts that come as a result of the yoke of barrenness. I’m also sure that the question on our minds right now is how can I really get rid of this yoke of barrenness, how can I be completely free from this yoke of barrenness.
The answer is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the cure for barrenness. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. There is no formula, technique, strategy or program to overcome every form of barrenness but through Jesus Christ. When you are weary, when you are so tired of everything you have tried and done that hasn’t worked and you come with your whole heart and mind focused on Jesus you will find rest for your souls. But when you come to Jesus and you come along with so many other alternatives for example one uncle somewhere you are relying on to sort you out financially, someone you can go and beg or borrow from, or you still have a plan to cheat or steal from someone, or you have someone you can even sleep with and the person will give you money, you aren’t really weary of everything else and all you want is Jesus. You aren’t really weary of that financial barrenness. You haven’t really reached your breaking point; the moment of greatest strain at which someone or something must give way. When you reach your breaking point, everything about you changes. Hannah had reaching her breaking point and it could be seen in the way she prayed, the statements she had made (1 Samuel 1:10-15). She had reached the point where she realized that only God go do this thing for her, God was her only option, her only alternative.
In John 15:4-5, we see that to be totally set free from the yoke of barrenness we must abide in Christ. As we abide in Him, His blood flows into every part of us and breaks every curse of barrenness (1 Peter 2:24, Revelation 12:11). As we abide in Him, the sword of His Word cuts off every yoke of barrenness (Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12). As we abide in Him, the power in His name will make every form of barrenness to bow down and out of our lives (Philippians 2:10-11). As we abide in Him, he enters into the boat of life and gives us clear instructions that will put an end to all fruitless efforts (Luke 5:4, 6). As we abide in Him, the Holy Spirit overshadows us and every wilderness in our lives becomes a fruitful field and the fruitful field a forest (Isaiah 32:15).
Yokes can be broken off, yokes can be shaken off, yokes can be destroyed (Ezekiel 34:27). God is going to destroy every yoke of barrenness and free us from every bondage, captivity and slavery to barrenness. But we must come, we must come to Jesus, we must come to Jesus as our only alternative, our only option, our only hope.
PHOTO CREDIT: Camylla Battani on Unsplash