Remove the Yokes
“Remove the Yokes” Acts 15:3-10
“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Acts 15:10
The Greek word for yoke is “Zugos”, which refers to a wooden bar placed over the neck of a pair of animals to force them to connect and work together. It also means burden or bondage; pair of scales.
The context of the scripture occurs after the door of salvation had been opened to the Gentiles and the Church at Antioch was birthed. Then, some brethren from Judea came to see what was going on-to be nosey. They couldn’t find anything major wrong with the Gentiles receiving salvation, so they decided to claim that these Gentiles could not be saved because they were not circumcised according to the custom of Moses. Here they go again trying to impose the customs of man and uphold law instead of grace. Paul and Barnabas were present to question these brethren of their disposition and it was decided that Paul and Barnabas should go back to Jerusalem (the home base) and discuss the matter with the other Apostles and Elders. When they arrived in Jerusalem there were a sect of Pharisees who were in favor to uphold the claims of the Judean brethren. Here comes the enemy as soon as the Church was birthed trying to find fault and impose control on these new converts, when in fact the Pharisees didn’t even believe in Jesus. So it makes me ask the question: “Why were they even in their business?” It was an issue of control. As it was in the case of why the Apostles were often beaten and persecuted to keep their mouth shut from witnessing to others about Jesus.
The warning is given here in verse 10 that when individuals allow their customs and traditions to become paramount to the point where it yokes others, then they are in danger of testing God. Jesus said,
“And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others." Mark 7:13 NLT
We are living times where religious church folk have become modern day Pharisees. Imposing traditions and customs on those who desire to receive salvation along with those who desire the fullness of the finished work of Jesus Christ. They impose their culture on others, which does not have a bearing on salvation.
The role of the Apostles of today is to govern as the original Apostles did. When this issue arrived in question, Paul and Barnabas did not Lord over these brethren because they were Apostles, nor did they rely on their opinion. They went back to Jerusalem -the home base, and consulted together with the other Apostles and Elders. The Bible declares in Proverbs 11:14, “In the multitude of counsel there is safety”. As ambassadors of Christ, we are to refer to the home base (the throne of God) and not impose yokes (our opinions, customs and traditions) on the people of God.
What has caused yokes in the church today? The church has demised the gift of the Apostle and the authority that Jesus gave the church to be administered through the Five-Fold Ministry. The modern day Pharisees have attempted to shut the mouth of the Prophet and has willingly walked away from the pattern of government that Christ set in place, so that we can mature as a body (Ephesians 4:12).
My prayer is that believers will submit to God’s authority, so that we will see yokes of tradition and religion destroyed and the church will become more fruitful; as believers we will purge the church of all impure motives and tactics designed to manipulate and exclude those who are not of our culture. As a result, we will see a culture that is not of our own, but a Kingdom culture. As we see here in this passage of scripture it is wrong to try to require others to adhere here customs and traditions that do not have a bearing on salvation. Clearly, these Judean brothers missed Deuteronomy 10:14-16,
"Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. "Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. "So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.
The “Good News” is found in Deuteronomy 30:6,
"Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live”.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, regardless of race or culture our hearts can be circumcised and every yoke of bondage can be destroyed.