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. Haley Z says:

    Lord let me trust in you and follow a path that glorifies you in my life. Help me to choose to do what is right and to always place you first in my life in my heart. Help me to share my love for you with others so that we may leave the world a better place than we found it. Let us submit to you in all your glory. Amen

  2. Parasa says:

    Lord help us to depend on you only

  3. Melissa Waterson says:

    Such a fantastic devotional!!!!

  4. Bridgette Alvarez says:

    Lord, help us to be able to discern the spirits. To know Your voice and to be obedient to You. Stay in God’s word church women. Don’t be deceived by false prophets, by people who the Lord has not sent. They have come to take away the promise that God has for you.

  5. Charlotte says:

    To break the YOKE of Fear surrounding the virus:

    1. China has closed down its last coronavirus hospital. Not enough new cases to support them.

    2. Doctors in India have been successful in treating Coronavirus. Combination of drugs used: Lopinavir, Retonovir, Oseltamivir along with Chlorphenamine. They are going to suggest same medicine, globally.

    3. Researchers of the Erasmus Medical Center claim to have found an antibody against coronavirus.

    4. 103-year-old Chinese grandmother has made a full recovery from COVID-19 after being treated for 6 days in Wuhan, China.

    5. Apple reopens all 42 china stores,

    6. Cleveland Clinic developed a COVID-19 test that gives results in hours, not days.

    7. Good news from South Korea, where the number of new cases is declining.

    8. Italy is hit hard, experts say, only because they have the oldest population in Europe.

    9. Scientists in Israel likely to announce the development of a coronavirus vaccine. God always blesses the Jews and many new medicines and medical procedures are the result of their God-blessed intelligence.

    10. 3 Maryland coronavirus patients fully recovered; able to return to everyday life.

    11. A network of Canadian scientists are making excellent progress in Covid-19 research.

    12. A San Diego biotech company is developing a Covid-19 vaccine in collaboration with Duke University and National University of Singapore.

    13. Tulsa County’s first positive COVID-19 case has recovered. This individual has had two negative tests, which is the indicator of recovery.

    14. All 7 patients who were getting treated for at Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi have recovered.

    15. Plasma from newly recovered patients from Covid -19 can treat others infected by Covid-19.

    … While some of us are scared & freaking out . REMINDER .. it’s not ALL bad news.

    ❤❤Let’s care for each other and stay focused on safety of those most vunerable.

    Credit: Michael Mathis from a post on Facebook

  6. Dorothy says:

    Churchmouse, I was just thinking of the stories of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Nebuchadnezzar when I was reading your first post and then you posted again about them.
    Amen Angie, Raegan Phillips, Candy B, Jenna, Maura, Ellen Day
    Great ideas Leann Schmitt, Julia
    Praying for you Amarose
    Claudia check out several different churches when you start going back to church. If you have friends or family that go to church go with them and see what their church is like. I found that going with someone makes it easier and more likely that you will go. I attend with my sister, it has made us closer.
    Dancee, money and the things it can buy is a more modern example. Facebook, social media, status, how big a house or fancy a house you live in, where you live and the type of car you drive are all more modern examples of idols.

  7. Dorothy says:

    Deuteronomy 13:1-4 says we should only follow God, God-of-Angel-Armies, the Lord Almighty, the Great Defender, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. My God, our God, is the only, the one and only God, needed at anytime and anywhere. In her devotional, Patti Sauls says, “But worshiping anything other than God chokes the life right out of us.” Oh, how true this is, I have found when I stray from God and Christ my life, my happy fun filled life as I know it isn’t there. My dark depressive days, where the devil has snuck back in, are there. Patti goes on to say, “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.” In the days I bring God and Christ into my life I find myself happier, more willing to get things done. more alert. in a better mood. I am sure I’m not the only one who goes through this.
    Lord God, help me to follow You and only You. Keep me from the idols of my life. Watch over my family, my friends, my sisters in Christ, the nation, the world, and all of Your creation. Amen.

  8. Dancee says:

    I think we need more modern examples of idolatry to “drive a message home.” A few were mentioned like health and family but it’s still hard to see how it can turn into worship.

    1. Katelin LaGreca says:

      Anything we put first in our lives become an idol—money, status in our work, entertainment, marriage. I think those things can also be used to glorify God, but it depends on where your heart is.

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