The First Apostasy
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Judges, that portion of the Word of God which we are studying together. The portion of the Word that we are to study in this lesson is found in chapter 3 of the book of Judges, verses 5-11:

Judges 3

5And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:
6And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
7And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.
8Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years.
9And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.
10And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.
11And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

This passage of Scripture describes the first apostasy and deliverance which God provided for the nation of Israel. This is the third lesson in the book of Judges, and you will remember we offered to you a three-point outline of the book. The first portion of the book–chapter one through verse 4 of chapter 3 we said was the approach to the book. It is the background to the story. We discovered how that the background of what we find in the book of Judges is related to the incomplete obedience of the children of Israel, so that they are found in the condition described in verse 5. Instead of occupying the land in toto as God originally intended, they were dwelling among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and the Jebusites because they failed to drive them out of the land.

The second portion of the book we referred to as the apostasies, of which there were six; and we told you that because the key phrase, mentioned several times over, which you find in verse 7 for the first time, is:

Judges 3

7And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD…

God punished their apostasies by putting them in servitude. When they were in servitude long enough, the key phrase in verse 9 was uttered:

Judges 3

9And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel…

From verse 5 of chapter 3 through chapter 16, we have presented to us the apostasies and the deliverances which will be discussed in the book of Judges.

The third part of the book of Judges we termed an appendix because it represents stories that are chronologically out of place which are gathered together in this special place for particular emphasis of divine truths. The appendix begins with chapter 17 and goes on through the rest of the book.

In this lesson, we want to discuss with you the first apostasy and the first deliverance. If you were to examine a rough map of a portion of the land of Palestine involved in the story that we are discussing, you would find that the servitudes into which the children of Israel were placed and the rods that God used in His hands for discipline could be approached from a clockwise position on the map. Beginning with Mesopotamia, who was the first instrument in God's hand for punishment of Israel, you go down to the lower part of the land to Moab, which was the second rod in God's hand and then across and up the other side of the clock to the Philistines and finally to the top of the clock to the Canaanites. If you keep in mind that God is approaching the discipline of the children of Israel in a clockwise fashion, you will notice God begins on the outside and eventually gets to the inside, as far as His disciplining is concerned. Quite often this is God's method of disciplining–to start with a far-off approach and get closer home. Sometimes the disciplines which God brings into our lives are not as impressive because they don't get so close to home to us. They become more impressive the closer to home they get.

General Outline of the Apostasies

Each of the apostasies we are going to be considering will be following a very general outline. I think it would be wise for you to have that general outline fixed in your minds so that as you read ahead of us, and I hope you will be doing that, you'll be able to recognize the truth of each individual instance.

There will be, first, the disobedience which was enacted by the children of Israel. The disobedience will be followed by the discipline, which God enacted for them. The discipline will be followed by the deliverer whom God raised up in their behalf, and the deliverer will be followed by the deliverance which God actually provided.

We have urged you to keep in mind that we do not want to spend our time in the mere accumulation of historical facts. We want to get spiritual truths, and we would like to remind you that the manner in which God dealt with Israel is the same way in which He deals with the children of God even in this Age of Grace, with a few exceptions. When there is a departure from the faith on the part of believers–a disobedience–God has to discipline. He has no choice. Discipline will continue until there is a confession of sin, and then God will, of course, draw attention to our Deliverer. In the Old Testament days, He had to raise up a deliverer. In our day, the Deliverer is with us. Then there will always be the deliverance, a natural result of what the Deliverer does on our behalf.

In this lesson, as we examine this particular story which represents the first apostasy, I would like for us to see if some of the problems which these individuals faced are not some of the problems which we face today. I would suggest to you that the disobedience of the nation of Israel, in this particular instance, can be described by three words. I will give them to you first; then we will see their significance. They intermingled, then they intermarried, and then they joined in idolatry. Those three things should fix firmly in your minds the act of disobedience that is described in this paragraph which we read.

Intermingling With Unbelievers

Notice in the first verse of the paragraph, you will see the reason we use the word “intermingled.” Verse 5:

Judges 3

5And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:

They were supposed to have driven them all out, but they intermingled with them. This act of disobedience on the part of Israel is a very good illustration of the consistent disobedience on the part of many believers today, and they seem not to be aware that it is an act of disobedience.

Turn, please, to Paul's second letter to the Corinthians and notice a familiar passage of Scripture, one that emphasizes a carelessness that exists on the part of many believers in relation to the matter of intermingling with unbelievers, intermingling with the world, if you want to call it that. You notice in II Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 14:

II Corinthians 6

14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: [I would like for you to notice these questions and see if you have a sensible answer to them] for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

If you are able to find constant association with unbelievers enjoyable, what is your answer to these questions?

II Corinthians 6

14…for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15And what concord [what agreement] hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
1Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

If you are thinking, you will realize, in the light of the first verse of chapter 7, which actually belongs to chapter 6 of II Corinthians, that the believer who can find nothing wrong with constant association with unbelievers, who finds some sense of satisfaction in constant association with unbelievers, is an individual who is not in right relationship to God himself, else there would be no reason for God to say, “Come out from among them and be ye separate. Touch not the unclean thing. I'll be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters.”, else there would be no reason for God to say, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit.”

We ask you the question, are you intermingling with unbelievers? If you are, then you are taking the first step of disobedience that the Israelites took in this first apostasy.

Intermarriage With Unbelievers

The second word that we have here is “intermarried.” I've never seen it to fail. If you keep constant association with unbelievers, you will be intermarried. What we read in II Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,” would certainly apply to marriage as much as to anything else. I, personally as a minister, will not knowingly marry a believer and an unbeliever. I would not knowingly marry a Christian in fellowship with one out of fellowship. These things are difficult to know, and that is the reason I am putting in the word “knowingly.” I would not knowingly do it because it is a direct violation of what God has plainly instructed in His Word. If you will go back to Judges, chapter three, you will notice the statement that the Israelites not only intermingled but, in verse 6:

Judges 3

6And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons,…

Intermarriage always follows intermingling. That's the reason we discourage, as much as we can, young people keeping fellowship with unbelievers. We discourage, as much as we can, saved young ladies dating unsaved young men and saved young men dating unsaved young ladies. I am often asked the question, “Well, just what are you to do?” Well, most certainly you are not supposed to walk up to the young man who asked you for a date and say, “Before I can have anything to do with you, I want to know whether you are a Christian or not.” That would be rather ridiculous, but before you keep continual company, the first aim that you ought to have is to find out what the individual's relationship to Jesus Christ is; and if the individuals relationship to Jesus Christ is one of an unbeliever, if you can't lead him or her to the Lord, whatever the case may be, then you should sever connections.

Led Into Idolatry

I often hear the argument, “How will anyone be won to the Lord if they follow your advice?” You trace it very carefully through the Scripture, and people are not won to the Lord by such relationships. Instead of being won to the Lord, individuals are sent off into idolatry. This is the third thing that happened to the children of Israel in this first apostasy. Look at verse 6 again:

Judges 3

6And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
7And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.

I want you to notice verse 7 because it describes the procedure that ended in idolatry. Nobody deliberately plunges into idolatry. You do recognize that the New Testament recognizes idolatry, not as bowing down to literal graven images as folk did in the Old Testament, but it recognizes idolatry as putting anything, whether it is a literal or spiritual thing, in the place of Jesus Christ. He must have first place in your life. Oftentimes when young people are associating together, the boy or the girl, one or the other, becomes the idol in the individual's life. In verse 7, you will find the reason for it.

Judges 3

7And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God…

The evil they did was in forgetting the Lord their God. This word “forgat” is an interesting word. It comes from the Hebrew word meaning “paying less and less attention to.” You may say, “Well, how can a person forget God?” This is the way you forget Him: Pay less and less attention to Him, and soon He is not important to you anymore. The Lord Jesus Christ, in addressing the Church at Ephesus in the book of Revelation, expresses it very well:

Revelation 2

4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

The literal translation of this verse is “…thou art leaving thy first love.” They were growing cold in their relationship to the Lord, and in growing cold in their relationship to the Lord, they were slipping off into that which would soon be idolatry. When we speak of forgetting God, we want to remind you that they were not forgetting in the sense that we forget facts and figures; they were just paying less and less attention to the Lord.

Enslaved By Idolatry

I want you to notice in Judges, chapter 3, verse 7 again:

Judges 3

7…and served Baalim and the groves.

The word “served” is an interesting word. It is a Hebrew word which speaks of a slavery which enslaves. It's more like an addiction, like some young people get hooked on drugs. It seems that when individuals disobey God, keep company with unbelievers, intermarry with them, and begin to bow down at their shrines, they become enslaved with a slavery that is almost an addiction, and it is almost impossible to break it. It's almost like giving heed to seducing demons of which Paul spake to Timothy: “And in the last days there will be people giving heed to seducing demons.”

If you will look at verse 7 again, you will notice that they bowed down and served Baalim. It should be called to your attention that the word “Baalim” here is the plural for the word “Baal;” and the word “Baalim,” used in the general sense here, is always a reference to the male dogs that were worshiped because in the idolatry of Mesopotamia, there was always sexual life emphasized in the worship. There was always a male and a female god.

Look at the word “groves.” It is a very unhappy translation of the original text. As a matter of fact, the original word which is translated by our English word “groves,” is the word Asheroth , which really is the name of a female goddess. So when they bowed down to serve Baalim and the groves, what the Scripture is saying is that they bowed down to Baalim and Asheroth , the female goddess. Tablets dug up in this particular area named this female goddess as “Our Lady of the Sea.”

Isn't it a tragic thing that Israel, who could have the experience that we noticed in our last lesson, when the Angel of the Lord came to Bochim, who could have contact with living deity, would be willing to worship a stick, because Asheroth , was actually a wooden pillar which was carved and set up alongside the male god? People bowed down before them in religious worship and then engaged in sexual activity in front of these gods as an act of worship. Who would think that Israel, the nation who knew the true God, would slip to such depths!

If you are wondering exactly how this could be, we would remind you that any individual who is out of fellowship with God is capable of slipping to the deepest depths of immorality and sin. You don't need to be surprised at anything that happens to an individual who is out of fellowship with God. The Israelites departed from the Lord. They did evil in His sight. They disobeyed.

God's Discipline for Disobedience

Now what was to happen to them? Well, if we did not know our Bibles, we would say that God would let them go. That's what He ought to do. He ought to wash His hands of the whole business, have nothing more to do with them. But you see, God loved them, and God said, concerning them, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Because God said that, God could not do other than to stay with them and that's the reason we have to consider together another word in our study, the word “discipline,” because the disobedience of the children of Israel must result in the discipline of God. Paul said in the letter to the Hebrews that every disobedience receives it's just recompense of reward.

Now in this Age of Grace, because God does not immediately strike us dead as He did Ananias and Sapphira when they lied to the Holy Ghost in the days of the early Church, we are prone to think that God does not discipline disobedience. But He does. Sometimes we do not recognize the discipline. We do not realize that it is God disciplining us. We attribute it to a great many human things because we are so blinded by sin that we do not realize that God's hand is in what happens, and that is why so often the discipline lasts so long.

Sold Into Slavery

Now the discipline that God brought upon the nation of Israel can be described by three words, the first of which is “sold.” Notice verse 8:

Judges 3

8Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years.

The word “sold” is a word that speaks of putting a slave on the auction block and auctioning him off to the highest bidder. God said to His children, “You don't want to follow me; I'm not the kind of Master you want. All right, I will let you taste some other masters; I will let you taste some other rulers, and then you'll see whether I am a good Master or not.” You know, oftentimes God does that. When we indicate by our attitudes that we are dissatisfied with Him and our fellowship with Him, He will let us go sometimes to the deepest depths of sin in order to help us understand what He really is. Some of us are fortunate, and our children are walking in the Light. Some of us are burdened; our children are not walking in the Light. Some parents are burdened when they see their children drifting farther and farther away instead of coming back, and they wonder if God is forsaking. No, He isn't forsaking. The only way He can cause them to really serve Him is to sell them into the deepest depths of slavery, and that is exactly what He did here, because you will notice the name of the King of Mesopotamia to whom He sold the Israelites as slaves–“Chushanrishathaim,” a long word and difficult to pronounce unless you are looking at it carefully. But actually the translation is significant because that word is translated “the blackness of double wickedness.” What's the significance of the word? I believe, Beloved, the significance of the word is that God sold them into the deepest kind of slavery, slavery of the deepest kind of sin in order that they might realize how difficult it was to live without God.

The second word that describes the discipline is in verse 8. You will notice that they served this individual eight years. The word for “slavery” here is a word that speaks of bitter slavery, hard slavery. It wasn't easy; it wasn't a picnic. I think it was significant that the slavery lasted eight years. The number “eight” is the number of beginning anew, beginning afresh. It seems to me that God was saying to them, “I'm going to leave you here in this slavery until you are ready to begin anew, to begin afresh.” When God got that message across to them, we have the third word that describes the discipline that God brought into their lives, and that is the word “sorry.” Discipline is never effective unless it works sorrow unto repentance.

Sorrow Unto Repentance

There is a lot of sorrow that is not unto repentance, but there is a sorrow unto repentance and the sorrow unto repentance is described in verse 9 of chapter 3: “The children of Israel cried unto the LORD.” This word “cried” is a word that speaks of people who cry in the deepest kind of anguish, people who are crying out to God in the sense, “Oh God, I've stood all I can possibly stand. I cannot go any longer this way. God help me.” When individuals reach that place, they have reached the place of godly sorrow. They have reached the place of godly repentance.

The Bible speaks of two kinds of sorrow. The Bible speaks of a sorrow that leads to repentance, and the Bible speaks of a sorrow that leads to death. There are a great many individuals who know something about the second kind of sorrow. They are sorry that they are in the situation they are in, but they are not sorry enough to cry unto God for deliverance, and their sorrow ends in death, for they stay in their state of being out of fellowship. There are others who sorrow unto God and cry out unto Him, and their cry moves the heart of God, and God does something about it. He raises up a deliverer. That is exactly what He did for the children of Israel. If you will notice there in chapter 3, verse 9:

Judges 3

9And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.

Othniel is a unique individual. We have met him before. We met him in the book of Joshua. We met him in the second chapter of the book of Judges. He was the individual who dared and determinedly took a piece of land in order that he might have the girl that he loved.

Characteristics of the Deliverer

I'm always interested in the names of these Old Testament characters. Othniel was called the Lion of God, and his father's name was Hunter–Othniel, the son of Kenaz, the Lion of God, the son of the Hunter. Have you ever puzzled over how they got their names? We spend alot of time selecting names for our children before they are born, trying to give them names of some significance, regardless of what we may have in mind. I have often wondered as I have meditated upon Othniel and Kenaz, if perhaps, when Kenaz was out hunting and he met the mighty lion, of which the land was full–Samson wrestled one down with his bare hands, you remember, when he met the mighty lion–and he thought about the approaching birth of his son, he thought, “I wish my son could be a lion for God like this wild lion with all of his power and all of his strength.” And with that hope in mind, called his son “Othniel.”

There are three things that characterize this deliverer, as there were three things that characterized the disobedience and three things that characterized the discipline. Othniel was an individual who was enlisted by God for the task that He had. You will notice in verse 9:

Judges 3

9And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel…

Notice the phrase,“raised up”. It is a translation of the Hebrew word quwm , which elsewhere in the Old Testament is translated by the word “ordained.” God ordained a deliverer. This act of deliverance was not an act a man took upon himself. It was not an act that a man chose for himself. It was only an act that could be ordained of God. Men who try to deliver without God's ordination never succeed in the deliverance. Human effort has consistently failed down through the years and will always fail. But you can be sure of this: A man who is called of God, or using our word “enlisted,” a man who is enlisted by God, will certainly be able to expect the help of God.

Empowered of God

So the second thing that we would like to call to your attention about Othniel was that he was an individual who was empowered of God. Notice in verse 10:

Judges 3

10And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered…

Notice that phrase, “the Spirit of the LORD came upon him.” This is the first time it is mentioned in the Old Testament in this sense exactly. In the book of Exodus we are told that Bezaleel and some of the workers of the Tabernacle were filled with the Spirit of wisdom that they might be able to do the coming work on the Tabernacle and build it in the beautiful manner that God wanted it in. We are told that Moses was a man in whom the Spirit of God was, and we are told that when Moses became concerned about the job that he had and felt like it was too great a job, God said, “I'll do something about it. You appoint seventy elders, and I will take the Spirit that is upon you, and divide it seventy-one different ways.” He didn't gain anything by asking for help. Actually, he did not need any help because He had the Spirit of the Living God upon him. This is the first time we are told that the Holy Spirit actually comes upon an individual in the Old Testament. We are going to be told this repeatedly, so we need to learn a few things about it.

The first thing that I would like for you to notice is that it does not necessarily indicate a moral change in the life of the individual. For example, in the Numbers, chapter 24, there is the story of Balaam, who was hired by Balak to curse the children of Israel, and Balaam certainly was a man out of fellowship, perhaps even unsaved, if we were going to use the New Testament sense of the word. Yet we read there in Numbers, chapter 24, that the Spirit of God came upon him. It made no moral difference in his life. When God wanted to empower individuals for certain tasks, the Holy Spirit came upon them.

Let us recognize that the Holy Spirit did make a change in individual lives, but every time He came upon an individual, it did not mean that He was making such a change. The Holy Spirit came upon individuals to make moral changes as He came upon the life of Saul in I Samuel, chapter 16. You will notice in verse 14 of that same chapter, when Saul sinned against the Lord, the Holy Spirit left him.

The Holy Spirit In the Present Age

You will remember the story of David, as it is recorded in Psalm 51, when he sinned, the Holy Spirit left him, and he cried out:

Psalm 51

11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

We are indeed in this hour living in a fortunate day, because the Holy Spirit is acting differently in this Age of Grace. The Lord Jesus Christ announced in chapter 14 of the Gospel of John that when He went back to Heaven, things were going to be different. He was going to send the Holy Spirit, and He said the Holy Spirit will be in you and will be with you. The Holy Spirit will come to abide.

Today the Holy Spirit does not come upon men when there is a special task. He is already indwelling them; and if they will obey the command,“ Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.”, the Holy Spirit will work through them and will accomplish God's purposes for their lives. The Holy Spirit does not leave us when we sin. The Holy Spirit simply withdraws His influence in the sense that He says to us, “If you would rather walk according to the flesh than according to the Spirit, it is your privilege. Do as you wish about it.” So we walk according to the flesh instead of according to the Spirit, and we wonder why things go as badly with us as they do.

This man Othniel was no match for Mesopotamia in his own strength, so the Spirit of God came upon him, and he became a deliverer in the power of the Holy Spirit. I might suggest to you today that it is only in the power of the Holy Spirit that we who rate fellowship with God will be delivered from the various addictions which control our lives, the various slavery in which we may find ourselves. Oftentimes we find ourselves aching, we find our selves remonstrating, we find ourselves preaching to individuals about their relationship to God, and we get absolutely nowhere. They turn a deaf ear to everything we have to say, and not only do they turn a deaf ear to what we have to say, they are even irritated by what we have to say. It is indeed a wise person who will recognize that only the delivering power of the Holy Spirit can free individuals from the slavery of sin into which they have permitted themselves to slip, because they serve other than God. What we need to do is to pray that just as God raised up a deliverer as He did Othniel, the Lion of God, and empowered him, God will deliver the lives of those of whom we are concerned.

Judgment of Sin

Another word that we are going to use to describe Othniel is the word “energetic.” It is brought to my mind by what we read in verse 10. We will glance at it again:

Judges 3

10And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, [He didn't just sit around and sing songs, and pray prayers] and he judged Israel, and went out to war: [notice the order. If he had gone out to war first, before he judged Israel, he would have lost the battle. He judged Israel first] and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.

I daresay he had in mind the matter of Achan's sin. You remember how when we were studying the book of Joshua, Joshua fell on his face because Israel was defeated. Then he prayed and begged God for victory, and God finally said, if you permit a paraphrase, “Get up off your knees and stop bothering me. There is no point in praying anymore. There is sin in the camp. Judge the sin, then the victory will be won.” You recall how Achan had slipped and stolen the Babylonish garment and the wedge of gold and buried them in his tent. Nobody knew it but God. God knew it. God knew that sin was unjudged.

Listen to me today. You and I may be able to keep up a very good front. We may be able to keep everybody fooled. We may not even act in such a fashion that anybody knows there is unjudged sin in our lives, but God knows it, and as long as that unjudged sin is there, God cannot give victory. Othniel knew this, so he judged the sin, and then he went out to war and God gave the victory. And I would suggest, if you are going to win the victory that you would hope to win against the enemy, that you very carefully keep in mind the plain teaching of God's Word in relation to unconfessed sin. Remember what the Psalmist said:

Psalm 66

18If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

Remember, what the Lord Himself said in I Corinthians, chapter 11:

I Corinthians 11

31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

I wonder how many defeats there are in Christendom today because individuals have to failed to judge their sins?

Deliverance Provided

The Deliverer, of course, provided the deliverance. That would follow naturally. Will you notice the kind of deliverance that was exercised in verse 11:

Judges 3

11And the land had rest forty years…

This was the deliverance that was provided by God–rest, quietness. We are reminded of what the Holy Spirit has recorded for our blessing. In Matthew, chapter 11, verse 28. These verses many of us pass over, not realizing the import of them. I am not convinced they are limited to the unsaved, as so often we think.

Matthew 11

28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Why would the Christian need to be laboring? Why would he be heavy ladened? You might say, “Well, he may be carrying a great burden.” Will we carry burdens if our faith is activated? Do we recognize that whatsoever is not of faith is sin? Are we burdened and heavy-ladened because we are out of fellowship?

Matthew 11

28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Oh, what rest there is when we come to Him and lay all our burdens at His feet. And then how do we keep from taking up those burdens? How do we keep from laboring like we were before? How do we enjoy the rest that we have? Verse 29 is the answer:

Matthew 11

29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

So often we read the phrase, “take my yoke upon you,” and we think God is wanting us to enter into some kind of servitude. But a yoke, remember, was meant to make the burden lighter. You never use a yoke with one ox. It is always with two. What Christ is saying here is, “I am inside one side of the yoke. Why don't you get in the other side and let the two of us bear the burden?” He said, “You will find a new kind of rest.”

I think that every believer who has entered into any kind of burden-bearing realizes the truth of this statement, and they have discovered how true it is. Matthew, chapter 11, verse 30:

Matthew 11

30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Did you notice what the Scripture said? It didn't say “My yoke is easy, and it will make your burden lighter.” It said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It is His burden, once you get into the yoke, not yours. I wish we as believers could learn to take the yoke. Here were the Israelites bearing the yoke of this wicked, Godless king, whose name meant “double darkness of wickedness,” and when they were delivered, they were back in the yoke of the Lord Jehovah. What a difference they found. The burden was so much lighter. Only because of the spiritual darkness of individuals (by “darkness” I mean they are out of fellowship with God) they continue to serve in the yoke of Satan. If their eyes were open, they would grasp the truth.

Conclusion

I hope we will take warning today. We have been saying to you, “Be careful about intermingling with the unsaved.” Intermingling is usually followed by intermarriage, and intermarriage is usually followed by an idolatry that is begotten because you do not pay attention to your God when you are yoked together with an unbeliever. Such acts of disobedience always bring the discipling hand of God. In this instance, it was for eight years, a long time, but need not be at all. Let's learn to serve the Lord.


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