Day 23

The Yoke of Babylon

from the Lent 2020: His Love Endures reading plan

Jeremiah 27:1-22, Jeremiah 28:1-17, Deuteronomy 4:29, Deuteronomy 13:1-5

BY Guest Writer

I’m grateful God gives us earthy metaphors to help us grasp spiritual truths. Whether it’s using a mustard seed to represent our faith, sheep to illustrate the waywardness of human beings, or salt to reveal how we can flavor and preserve the world—God often provides familiar word pictures to drive a message home.

In today’s reading, God tells Jeremiah, “Make chains and yoke bars for yourself and put them on your neck” (Jeremiah 27:2). A yoke was commonly used to harness oxen as they pulled carts or farming equipment. Two animals would be placed side by side and hoops would be hung under their heads. The hoops would be strapped to a horizontal wooden bar placed across their necks. This yoke would force the strong oxen into submission and labor.

Jeremiah obeyed God’s instruction and strapped a heavy, wooden yoke around his own neck. How strange for a man to harness himself like an animal! The shackled prophet was a shocking picture of what God’s unfaithful people would soon experience. The nation of Judah would be captured, enslaved, and exiled to Babylon: Farewell, freedom! Farewell, promised land! Because of their insatiable idol chasing, God would use Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar to bring judgment. Judah would be forced to submit to a foreign power and to labor against their own will.

Jeremiah’s yoke was a picture of God’s severe judgment, but it also revealed God’s severe mercy. Even without Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion, the people of Judah were already slaves. Despite God’s repeated warnings through His commands and prophets, they had shackled themselves to false, foreign gods and they were blind to the chains of idolatry around their own necks. God longed for His people to recognize this bondage, turn away from idolatry, and return to Him with all their heart and with all their soul (Jeremiah 29:12–13). Only then could they really be free.

We all worship something. We all bow the knee and chase something or someone in which to put our hope. We may harness ourselves to health, beauty, wealth, family, achievements, or even our own good deeds. But worshiping anything other than God chokes the life right out of us. Our idols promise much, often the kind of peace we all long for, even the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 28:6). And when the promise is made, the chase begins. Our idols fail to deliver, yet they demand more. As the chase goes on, we become more weary, despairing and defeated. But in His mercy, God interrupts our destructive spiral. He points us to the only one who, when we are harnessed to Him, delivers life instead of death.

Patti Sauls lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband Scott and daughters, Abby and Ellie, where they serve alongside the people of Christ Presbyterian Church. Prior to living in Nashville, the Sauls planted churches in Kansas City and Saint Louis and served at New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. A trained speech therapist, Patti also enjoys serving behind the scenes, hiking with friends, and reading good books.

Post Comments (75)

75 thoughts on "The Yoke of Babylon"

  1. Claudia says:

    I am so thankful God led me to this study. I read this study alongside my Life Application Study Bible and read the footnotes as I go along. This study so far, has been a real eye opener. I have been a Christian since I was a little girl. I have not been to church in about 2 years but I have remained in God’s word. Lately though I have started feeling the tug in my heart to get back to church. I would really appreciate if you ladies would pray for me and my family. My heart’s biggest deserve is to serve the Lord with all my heart and I know he knows this.

    1. Melanie Rastrelli says:

      I will certainly pray for you Claudia that you would continue to follow that tug in your heart to go back to church. I know you would feel His peace and love if you do go back even more than you do now. God bless.

  2. Courtney says:

    Well said, Angie!

    Praise be to You, Lord Jesus Christ, for lightening our heavy load!

  3. Julia L says:

    This reminds me of Matthew 11:28-30, and the difference between a yoke of slavery to sin and idols and the yoke that Jesus offers. In Jeremiah, this yoke enslaves, weighs down and keeps you working for false gods that promise but don’t deliver. It’s like being on a hamster wheel. Running hard and feeling exhausted, but you went nowhere.
    Jesus brings up the yoke, but it is one that is light. It is for us who are weary after running after that which does not satisfy. It is living in the way of Jesus, which brings rest to the deepest places of us. Let us break our yokes of chasing idols today and take this yoke of Jesus.

  4. Ellen Day says:

    This makes me look at my life and wonder things I am following and giving my attention to that are not Godly, that lead me astray. My heart so easily wanders, and especially with the unknown of this virus, it so easily gets overwhelmed. It’s so important to remember that everything is apart of Gods plan!!

  5. Kelly says:

    Amarose, praying for you! I am so sorry for your loss. Give yourself time to grieve. There is no right or wrong way to do it. As for your relationship,
    My boyfriend and I found a class at a local church for couples thinking about engagement and we’ve found that to be helpful as we discern our future together. Maybe something like that is available for you? There is no need to rush. Blessings to you.

  6. amarose says:

    Ladies, I could use some prayer/advice right now. I recently found out my boyfriend and I were pregnant. He’s not a christian. We were preparing to come together and be a family to raise this baby but now this week I found out I lost it. In the midst of grieving this baby, my thoughts on the future of this relationship are tumbling around in my brain and I’m not sure what to do…

    1. Ashley P. says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss! Praying for you!! ❤️

    2. Annette Kendall says:

      Praying for you friend

  7. Laura says:

    “But in His mercy, God interrupts our destructive spiral. He points us to the only one who, when we are harnessed to Him, delivers life instead of death.” This is my prayer for my daughter. Through the comments here, I have been reminded to pick up my prayer journal again. Praying that God will interrupt her destructive spiral.

  8. Maura says:

    “But in His mercy, God interrupts our destructive spiral. He points us to the only one who, when we are harnessed to Him, delivers life instead of death.” God in His mercy looked upon us with grace and love. Love enough to Harness Himself to the cross to bear our punishment. What Love is this? Please Lord help us pour out your love on this world. Give us eyes to see and hearts harnessed to you in this time. Holy Spirit fill us with peace that surpasses understanding and open my/our mouths to lift up your name Jesus, draw the weary, frightened, hopeless, worn, sinners, all to your feet, to your healing grace. In Jesus Name. Amen

    1. Eva-Marie Hester says:


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