So a while back, I was opening my Bible. In my thoughts, I asked God to show me what He wanted me to read. The response was very faint, but I felt it was Isaiah 8 and 9. So, I read through Isaiah 8 which was pretty good. Then I got to verse 9, which is what dramatically changed my perspective of the Christian life.
Okay ... so what? God removed the burden of some random people. What's so great about that? Well, let's take a look about at exactly who this chapter is talking about. But, before I give my interpretation, make sure you plan to read this whole chapter for yourself in order double-check what I'm saying, and also to let God talk to you personally as you read it. Don't just rely on my words. Rely on His. Check out all of Isaiah 9 here!For You have shattered their oppressive yoke
and the rod on their shoulders,
the staff of their oppressor, just as You did on the day of Midian. -Isaiah 9:4
Now back to my interpretation. From what God showed me, the passage here is talking about Jesus. Isaiah was prophesying about the coming of Christ--how God's people will be redeemed and brought back to life when Jesus came and redeemed His people. Every verse in this passage applies to God's people, today.
Romans 8:15-16 NLT says: So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. Therefore, we are God's people too! Even more, we're His children. Not only are we co-heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17), His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:10), and His friends (John 15:15), but we're also God's children! We hear this all the time, but do you ever sit for a moment and let that sink in? I mean the God who created all this--
same way the dad helping his daughter learn to ride a bike calls her his daughter, or a mother asleep with her baby boy in her arms calls him her son. The same image and feelings that invade those parents when they think of their children is how God Almighty feels when He thinks of you!
If you're still not really getting this, you need to watch this video: The Awe Factor of God. I have it included in the space to the right if you're reading via website; if you're reading via email just click on the video's name. To truly understand and revel in God's love for you, you have to realize where you are and where He is. He is so much bigger than us in every way - all creation screams it. Yet He still loves us! The Awe Factor of God paints in motion what I'm trying to say through written word.
Alright, so Isaiah 9 is talking about Jesus, God loves us, and we're His children. So what? Read the verse again.
As I said before, this verse prophesying about people--God's people--living in the time of the Messiah and beyond. We are His children, and we are living in the time of Jesus (the last days, as the apostles and prophets called it) so this verse is speaking directly to us!For You have shattered their oppressive yoke
and the rod on their shoulders,
the staff of their oppressor, just as You did on the day of Midian. -Isaiah 4:9
"For You have shattered their oppressive yoke ... "One of the definitions for "yoke" is: an agency of oppression, subjection, servitude, etc.
So the phrase "oppressive yoke" relates to anything that is or has been a burden to you in your spiritual life. For example, some "oppressive yokes" for me have been fear, guilt, anxiousness, lust, self-consciousness, doubt, pride and timidity.
"... and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor ..."Not only did God shatter the yoke itself--fear, lust, anxiety, etc.--but the burden we carry because of them and the attacks of the enemy to bring us back down. We have the total upper hand! We are set free!
And finally, the last and possibly my favorite part of the verse:
"... just as You did on the day of Midian."
Say whaatt? Midian? What happened on the day of Midian? What was the day of Midian, anyway?
To find the answer of this, we have to go back a few centuries to the book of Judges. In chapter 6, we get taste of what's going on here. There we find the ancient nation of Israel, before they were a nation: back when they were a loose cluster of tribes - and constantly bullied by their more powerful neighbors. One of these powerful, oppressive neighbors were the Midianites. They oppressed the Israelites until they cried out to God, and he sent Gideon (not exactly People's Choice for best warrior) out to deliver Israel from the Midianites' grasp. You can read all this for yourself in Judges 8, but the verse I want to highlight is Judges 8:28:
So Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they were no longer a threat. The land was peaceful 40 years during the days of Gideon. -Judges 8:28 (my emphasis)This is what Isaiah references to when he writes "just as in the day of Midian" or "just as in the day of Midian's defeat" in Isaiah 9:4. When God dealt with Midian, He dealt with them for good - they were no longer a threat. In the same way, God has dealt with the everything that oppresses us - spiritually, mentally and even physically. We may feel hopeless, doubtful, or abandoned, etc, but we aren't. We still may feel as if we're trapped in a never-ending cycle, but we're not. We may feel dirty, unworthy, weak and a waste of time, but aren't. We never have been since the day we believed Jesus came and died for our sins and mistakes and were baptized in His name. We will continue to make mistakes and feel imperfect, and that's fine - because we're human. Jesus didn't die so we could try to be perfect. He died, in part, so we could have rest from the pressures of trying to be something we're not. He died, not to simply abolish those things from our lives, but to give us the grace, the strength, the knowledge and the love to overcome them: to rise above our troubles, transcend our doubts and worries, to leave aside the weights holding us down and "run out the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1)."
You are not a slave, so refuse to live like one. Jesus set you free. Paul gave a strong command to the church in Galatia when he wrote:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. -Galatians 5:1 NIV (all the crazy emphasis mine)In the immediate context, Paul was telling his readers not to return to living under the Law after committing their lives to Jesus (another post for another time), but I think this also extends to not letting your feelings, circumstances, negative thoughts, anxieties, insecurities, "limiting" factors in your personality (which, in your personality, are actually all good traits; you're just looking at them wrong), desires, disabilities, flesh or anything else that prevents you from being who God made you to be, run your life either.
You are set free. You have hope. You have a calling. And you have a Father in Heaven who loves you; a Friend who died for you and rose again to give you freedom; a Spirit who burns with passionate desire to reveal to you the depth and the height and the width of God's love - for you! Never forget these things. You are more than you see in yourself now. You are everything God's created you to be.
And the real you - not your physical self, with its blemishes, but your soul: the traits, ideas, characteristics and true desires that make you who you are - is perfect.
But how do we remember all these things? How do we keep them all in mind? How do we keep back from falling into the hopeless cycle of literal slavery?
How can we live like this?
Like many things with God, its actual pretty simple:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. - Hebrews 12:1-3 NLTKeep your eyes on Jesus, and that will empower you to not only get through, but rise above all you that you deal with.
Have an awesome day and God bless!! :)
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may overflow with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:13