GIDEON’S 300: WHY A SMALL GROUP OF REAL CHRISTIANS IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN 32,000 PRETENDERS [Part 1: Take My Yoke Upon You]
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:29-30]
The Lord is putting a team together. The odds are great most will not make the cut. Christians in general have a strange traditional mindset in which they believe eternal life is automatic, that there is little effort in gaining it, and that this life is essentially a smooth ride into heaven because the Lord Jesus has already done the work to assure our arrival there.
While this is true in a sense it is also highly problematic. The Lord said we must each take on His yoke. Each of us must allow a spiritual yoke to be wrapped around our heads. Each of us must submit to being yoked together with Him in order to do the work He has called us to do. He does His part. We do our part. Each of us and the Lord are to work together in tandem. We can do nothing in accordance with His will unless we do it this way. He is the Leader. We are the followers. We put our head in a yoke beside Him. He already has His head in the other loop of the yoke awaiting us. And then we work together. The point is that the Lord Jesus is not in the habit of dragging dead weight around. One will have to do one’s part. One will have to pull one’s share of the load. If one gets it right one will never be working alone but always working with Him.
This denotes full commitment. It denotes great activity on our part. It denotes real discipleship. When one gets it right there will be spiritual fruit. There will be miracles. Things will happen that we can claim no credit for because we will know the fruitful things that happen could only have happened by His hand. We may otherwise work our fingers to the bone but without the Lord’s involvement and direction all we will get is bony fingers.
If, however, we couple our hard work with His hard work we will receive the fruits of our labor but only because the Lord Jesus was involved in making it happen. Many Christians work themselves silly every day but never gain the spiritual payday hoped for simply because they think their hard work is the answer. But hard work only works in His kingdom if He is also working on the same project we are working on, which means it was His project to begin with and we are working with Him but under His authority to make it happen.
I mean, how humble must the Lord be to yoke Himself up with us, essentially making us equals, to go out there and plow a spiritual field? He could simply dictate to us instead and make us do all the work but we should know the only thing that will do is cause rebellion because rebellion against God is the first reaction of unregenerate flesh. So He has to greatly lower Himself to our level in order to work with us to get anything done. And remember, He can do nothing unless He does it with and through humanity. So the big question for Him is will He be able to actually find anyone willing to work with Him in the only way that will work regarding spiritual reality?
For many Christians this is a big fat no. Tell some big boy religious pretender he will have to humble himself, junk his titles, replace his fancy church duds, and become a lowly servant, and then watch the unregenerate prideful flesh come oozing out like a lard bin in summertime with a fast leak followed by high rebellion and red-faced anger. How often do we see this in the Gospels? For some, the religious pride was way off the scale. The Lord gives the same directions to all Christians but only a relative few get the big idea. No matter how many times the Lord patiently explains that humility is a door into the miracle realm and He runs a spiritual kingdom it does no good if a Christian refuses the narrow road. In other words, who needs to vaya con Dios when he’s already got money and thinks he’s awesome?
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…” [Revelation 3:17]
Whoa. How much more plain can the Lord make it? Christians who think they are rich but don’t know they are poor. What’s He talking about? How can it be that a Christian can believe he or she is well off and apparently in the will of God when he or she is actually “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” In other words we may be sitting there in the pew all prim and proper and well off and not understand we are sick and poverty stricken. How does that happen?
YOKE OR WOKE
I was around at the onset of Christian television. I saw it go from what it was to what it is. In the beginning it was largely a reflection of what went on in churches and for the most part much better things went on in churches back then compared to now. If you don’t quite see this simply do some research and find some old telecasts. You will see how much things have changed.
In time, as it always seems to happen, an inevitable devolution takes place. The more successful Christian television has become the more spiritually worthless it has become. It has now become thoroughly invaded by what we used to call “worldliness.” It has become a reflection of this world, of current human cultures. Because the medium has appropriated a growing lack of love for spiritual truth it has largely become blinded to it and has thus embraced much untruth masquerading as truth. And it keeps getting worse. The things that pass for Christianity now are laughable. And to add to all the worthless chatter from endless droning talking heads all pretty and facelifted, Christian television has also gone woke.
And if I need to remind you, here goes: The Lord revealed to me almost eleven years ago that we were in the early stages of a national Great Awakening. Wokism is the devil’s answer to the Great Awakening. Any Christian who has refused to get properly yoked up with the Lord will never partake of the Great Awakening but will instead fall for some form of deception courtesy of a fake angel of light. If you need some Scripture for that here you go:
For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. [2Thessalonians 2:11-12]
Here’s another, an oldie but goodie:
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Matthew 16:23-26]
In case you may be interested, the operative Greek word in the above verse is apollumi. It means “to destroy utterly.” So the choice is that a person will either destroy his life in order to have new life or not destroy his life only to have it eventually destroyed in hell. And until one destroys his life and is born again one will never put one’s head in a yoke with the Lord or drag around a cross for the remainder of one’s life.
And speaking of the deceitfulness of riches, there is this:
And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” [Matthew 19:23-25]
Perhaps if Christians ever heard such verses in their churches and Christian television programs they would no longer be deceived. But, of course, this cannot happen because many churches and much of Christian television in general is highly dependent on relatively large outlays of funding. Whoever preaches the truth as the Lord Jesus preached the truth will likely not have a church to preach in or a television show to preach from which tends to eliminate funding. To remedy this one must simply join Christian Fake World and preach a watered down inoffensive feel good gospel in the form of mushy baby food so no one out there will get their dander up or be offended and thus keep receiving cash instead of getting trashed. Better to tell everyone how great and awesome they are because it increases the chances of being thought well of and gaining greater wealth in the meantime.
THE CULLING PROCESS
See if any of this sounds familiar: American Christians screwed up. They turned their backs on the Lord. They loved the Lord’s blessings more than the Lord. They got so full of themselves they couldn’t see the Lord with the Hubble Telescope. This was the Lord’s solution:
Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years. The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the sons of the east and go against them. So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it. [Judges 6:1-5] 
© 2021 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The Lord Jesus promises us an easy yoke. Think about that. The existence of an easy yoke implies the existence of its opposite—a difficult yoke, which no one really wants but many already have.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:29-30]
Rather than the counterfeit taskmasters we are used to or the dry, empty instruction of lifeless hirelings that do nothing for our hungry souls, the Lord identifies Himself as a gentle and humble teacher with a guaranteed promise.
He promises a light burden instead of heavy and hard to carry burdens and bleak servitude. He promises an easy yoke, signifying His teaching in the service of God instead of the scribal standard that never satisfies the soul. And He attempts to convince us to trust Him regarding His promises and our discipleship under His authority, that our hearts may be fulfilled and satisfied, and that we find the refreshing we seek.
His intention is to remove us from the fruitless instruction of others (“learn from Me”) and bless us with the spiritual rest and refreshing we need and desire.
He wants to take us back through the fog of countless incomplete and incorrect teachings and teachers to the beginning, to the foundation, to the well—to the answer. He quotes Jeremiah:
Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.” [Jeremiah 6:16]
There is another word in the original languages closely associated with the one used for yoke in the above narrative, and is used with reference to a yoked pair. It relates to a rough wooden yoke built for two farm animals standing side by side with their heads yoked together at the neck to work in tandem.
Could it be the Lord is also telling us to be yoked together with Him as in the above? If so, He has already placed Himself in one side of the yoke and is asking each of us to place ourselves in the other side. By this, He would also be saying He will never ask us to do what He is not doing.
Consider the implications of this arrangement—whatever the Lord may propose to do will instantly involve us doing it as well. He refers to it as His yoke, not ours. Yet, even in that, once we are yoked together He cannot force us to go along. We must make the choice to work with Him BESIDE Him. And because it’s an easy yoke, He will always consider a pace we can handle.
This is completely indicative of why Abraham was credited with righteousness. When he entered into covenant with the Lord, as pairing up with Him in a yoke, Abraham committed himself to work alongside the Lord and do whatever was required for the rest of his life. This is the commitment a real Christian makes.
Are we following the Lord within this arrangement? Yes, certainly. Though He is not geographically in front, He still leads, that is, until we learn to work with Him. At that point following Him becomes natural and second nature.
This is what the farm animals do. When a pair of animals is first teamed up they must learn to work together. It takes time and effort to synchronize themselves one with the other, and is much harder than it may appear. The two may fight and pull against each other in the beginning, and maybe even buck. And since the driver following behind wants strong and stout animals it is that much harder to get them on the same page.
For each animal, the arrangement is unnatural. It is difficult enough to be strapped to a plow but to be yoked to another animal as well and be expected to work is next to impossible. The physical strictures are beyond uncomfortable. The entire arrangement demands revolt, which includes yet another brutal cruelty—the callous commands of the driver holding the reins.
How can these two independent farm animals with minds and instincts of their own make such an unnatural set-up work? What if one lags? What if one is trying to set a stronger pace than the other can handle? What if one becomes obstinate like a stubborn mule and refuses to conform? Eventually one becomes the leader and the other follows along until the two arrive at a united and steady pace.
This can take quite a while. The driver must drive the team but also have enough patience to make it work. A good team is hard to put together, but once successful, a lot more work can be accomplished with a yoked team than with two singles.
Consider the pastoral scene before us two thousand years ago. The Lord Jesus was teaching disciples very familiar with the particulars of the illustration. These were rural and semi-rural men, most of whom made a living with their hands. They were in sight of the grainfields of Galilee and likely an existing team of yoked draft cattle working a field. The men would understand the spiritual significance of the Lord’s teaching by seeing the scene right before them.
Imagine, then, those in another rabbi’s school, or one animal in a tandem yoke. The Lord says any other teacher is essentially a mere hireling who has certainly not entered into a committed discipleship covenant with the student, and that a single draft animal in a tandem yoke meant for two is meaningless. In a spiritual sense, a single unyoked worker can certainly appear to work, but without the Lord can actually get nothing done:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” [John 15:4-5]
Now, considering the implications in the above passage, note in the following verse how the Lord perfectly modeled both the vine and branches figure and the yoke illustration:
Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” [John 5:19]
This is a perfect picture of the Father and Son being yoked together. The Father and Son, however, are not separate in the sense that two farm animals are separate, yet the two separate farms animals yoked together actually become one in an effectual sense regarding the work they accomplish. They pull together with the same exact strength walking at the same exact pace. They learn to work together so perfectly they instantly anticipate the other’s moves and make adjustments. If one animal suffers a misstep or an injury the other compensates for it. The two become a team working as one.
And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs… [Mark 6:7]
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. [Luke 10:1]
As a tandem team of farm animals, so were these disciples. They were learning to work together.
The yoke teaching is thus:
(1) The Father and Son are yoked perfectly together.
(2) Each disciple individually must be yoked together with the Lord (Who is Father and Son).
(3) One disciple must be paired with another.
(4) Each pair must learn to work with each other pair.
The Lord was so successful in making all this unity happen He was able to gather 120 devoted disciples together in the upper room for the Holy Spirit outpouring of Pentecost! That’s not sixty pairs, though, but a single unit composed of 120 individuals. Each one of these were yoked with the Lord which made the yoking together of all possible.
It was the Lord Jesus, by His Holy Spirit, who provided the spiritual connective. This is also why the single fire which was manifested as the visible presence of God in the upper room separated into 120 parts, was distributed, and rested upon each disciple. This could not have happened if the 120 were not in spiritual unity.
This unity was so perfectly formed that the 120 functioned as a single ovum given life by the Spirit of God from which the entire Body of Christ would miraculously grow over the next 20 centuries. How did this happen and why does it rarely happen in comparison with all “Christian” expressions?
The key is in the apostle Peter’s address to the gathering crowd drawn together by the spectacle. Everyone in the upper room had already obeyed the directive later given by Peter or he would not have told the crowd to do something they had not already done.
Peter explained the prophecy of Joel and He identified the Lord as the Messiah and told them of His death and resurrection. He then revealed the yoking process designed to bind the people of God together:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” [Acts 2:36-38]
This is the secret. This is the answer. This is the easy yoke.
“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” [Acts 2:39-40]
A great many in the crowd did exactly that, which then continued the process of cell division and growth. By the end of the day the 120 had been multiplied to become 25 times as large!
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. [Acts 2:41] 
May your joy be full.
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Please Take Time To Worship the Lord: