Bible scholars have spent many hours and much ink expounding on what the easy yoke and light burden of Yahusha Ha’Mashiach really meant.
Some visualize a vibrant and strong Messiah on one side of the yoke joined by a crossbow to an exhausted and nearly dead human. They picture Yahusha dragging this feeble person along the narrow path.
One can see where some can come away with this perspective, which corresponds to the message of Psalm 68:19-20:
“Blessed be יהוה, Day by day He bears our burden, The Ěl of our deliverance! Selah. Our Ěl is the Ěl of deliverance; And to יהוה, the Master, belong escapes from death.”TS2009
Psalm 55:22 reads:
“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”TS2009
It is vital to consider a few other verses to get a fuller contextual understanding. First, in Luke 11:46, Yahusha issues a warning:
And He said, “Woe to you also, you learned in the Torah, because you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”TS2009
Similarly, Psalm 38:4 reads:
For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden, they weigh too much for me.TS2009
Also, consider the context of loving your neighbor as yourself as described in Galatians 6:1-18:
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”
With these considerations in mind, I would posit that scripture teaches the concept of a relationship with Messiah Yahusha by which we are yoked with him in our life walk. Indeed, he is the leader whereby we obediently follow him; doing our fair share of the work as we tread the walk of life down the narrow path toward salvation.
Additional passages for contextual consideration can be found in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37, Numbers 11:17, and Exodus 18:22.
Biblical, Hebraic, and Modern Historical Considerations
To further understand the context of Matthew 11:28-30 and how it applies to our lives today, let’s look at some biblical and Hebraic history as well as some modern-era considerations.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you are like whitewashed tombs which outwardly indeed look well, but inside are filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you too outwardly indeed appear righteous to men, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.Matt 23:27-28 TS2009
As we dig into a few biblically historical examples, it is essential to consider not only the physical aspects of this subject but also the spiritual.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, by against principalities, against powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.Ephesians 6:12 Cepher
However, the underlying spiritual aspects of perverse laws calling evil good and good evil is an entire study in and of itself.
The Heavy Burden of Tradition
The eleventh chapters of both Luke’s and Matthew’s gospels are examples of how manmade laws and traditions had become excessively burdensome for the people, compared to how the Torah was meant to be interpreted and applied. The Pharisees of the time had elevated their traditions and added legal requirements to the Torah before Yahusha’s Passion.
Consider how many laws are in the Talmud, Mishna, and Gemara.
The Mishna alone adds 63 additional tractates. Among these are some thirty-nine categories which further define what is considered “work” on the Sabbath. Within these thirty-nine categories, are several additional sub-categories, thus adding even more laws and regulations to the already established 613 Mosaic Torah instructions.
With this in mind, one can see why Yahusha was so critical of the Pharisee’s additions and why he made it a point to invite the crowds to adopt an easier way to walk through life at his side.
Now consider a few modern-era examples we see in our time.
“Congress has enacted approximately 200–600 statutes during each of its 115 biennial terms, so that is more than 30,000 statutes which have been enacted since 1789.”Source: Wikipedia
A 2014 Washington Post report reveals that “an average of 462 new laws per state” are added yearly.
The yoke and burden of God’s 613 Torah instructions, of which 248 are positive commandments (the do’s) and 365 are negative commandments (the don’ts), suddenly seem much lighter and less burdensome by comparison.
And, not all 613 laws apply to every individual. It all depends on your particular life circumstance. For example, since the Temple no longer exists, we cannot offer up animal sacrifices as described in the book of Leviticus. We are living in a different administrative era. (1 Corinthians 12:5)
Keep in mind that there are gender (male or female) and marital-specific (married or unmarried) laws included in the 613 in addition to those that only apply to widows, orphans, strangers, etcetera.
An objective survey of the 613 Torah commands reveals that a believer is to observe even fewer than 613 regulations, thus proving the Torah that Jesus preached to be even less burdensome, and the yoke to be even lighter than one might imagine. It is undoubtedly lighter than the countless manmade laws and traditions which the world would have you place on your shoulders to bear throughout your lifetime.
If you ask a child if it would be easier to follow 613 or 30,000 laws, what would their answer be? Are we not instructed to “turn and become like children” in Matthew 18:3? Just something to consider during your time of prayer and meditation on the context of this message.
The Treachery of Good Intentions
What began with some Rabbis simply trying to add a few laws for “clarity” quickly snowballed into an exceedingly burdensome system that few, if any, could follow without violation.
As is the case in the United States, what began as a few constitutional laws and amendments, ballooned into a federal monstrosity with so many laws and regulations in place that even teams of lawyers, judges, and justices continually struggle to interpret and apply them.
The United States has a massive Federal Register that would take half a lifetime to read and interpret. Congress routinely enacts 4000-page bills, which the average educated person has no means to acquire the legal expertise necessary to comprehend. Is it even possible for a citizen to obey the laws of this land without error?
We are truly living in Mystery Babylon. (Revelation 17:5) The confusion we are all experiencing can be traced back to religious traditionalists who sneer at the Torah, thumb their noses at Yahuah, and arrogantly proclaim that they know better.
The Dangers of Ignoring The Truth
Let’s take another look at a Hebraic historical passage in the book of Genesis as well as passages from the extra-biblical book of Jasher to observe where the progressive path of law-creation and perversion can lead.
Many of us are familiar with the Genesis story of Sodom and Gomorrah where Yahuah heard the cries and supplications concerning Sodom’s cruelty. There is the apparent sexual immorality observed in the account, which is central to the morality and resulting judgment of the story. The passage describes how the people of Sodom want the two men (messengers of God in disguise) to leave Lot’s home so they can have intercourse with them.
However, when you study the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Jasher1, you can gain
When you read the insane narrative surrounding Eliezer’s trial in verses 17-21, the death sentence trial of Paltith in verses 34-35, and the similar fate of another woman in verses 36-43, it becomes painfully obvious how twisted and perverse manmade laws can become. Genesis 19 is a prime example of how Sodom’s depravity became an acceptable expression of the townspeople’s proclivities.
Sodom’s laws had strayed further and further from God’s laws which Noah had taught to all his descendants following the Flood2. In the not-too-distant past, these same laws were commonly understood to be ethical and moral.
As It Was In The Days of Noah
Let’s take a brief look at just a few of the insane anti-biblical laws in practice in the United States today.
Infanticide (the murder of babies in the womb and up to the moment of birth) remains legal in numerous states. Theft is seemingly legal in multiple states and cities. California’s Proposition 47, has made shoplifting “de facto” legal, where people cannot be prosecuted if theft is less than a specific dollar amount. Our nation has redefined marriage, which is historically and biblically defined as between a man and a woman in the Holy Scriptures.
Child abuse has been effectively legalized with the abominable practices of gender reassignment surgeries and chemical hormone experiments on minors.
Frivolous lawsuits abound where open persecution of Bible believers is allowed, providing virtually no protection under the law to prevent double jeopardy. Such as with the repeated lawsuits against the Colorado Christian Baker, who, despite winning a Supreme Court case in his favor, continues to face repeated lawsuits and harassment, with no justice served against the individuals violating the high court’s ruling.
There are also some federal agencies expressing anti-First Amendment sentiments regarding freedom of religion. Recent news of the FBI’s leaked documents shows that the bureau issued a warning that traditionalist Catholics pose an extremist threat.
These are only a few more recent examples. Countless other anti-biblical laws can be found with minimal research. As one can see, just as with the historical, moral decline of Sodom, the world is following a similar path of degradation, perversion, and destruction. However, this should be of no surprise to the Saints.
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”Ecclesiastes 1:9 KJV
So again, as believers, we are instructed by the Messiah Yahusha concerning these last days that we should expect our world to mimic what Noah experienced just prior to the flood.
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.Luke 17:26,27 KJV
With all this in mind, the question remains: How are believers to react and function in this crazy modern Mystery Babylonian world, whose laws and morals often oppose sound Biblical morals and principles? This question brings us back to the lesson taught by Yahusha in Matthew 11:28-30.
The yoke and burdens of Yahusha are easy and light compared to the madness of the world’s endless stream of laws, wokeness, changes, and double standards. It should be evident to Bible believers that the world’s yoke and burden are impossible to carry.
How can one maintain their biblical morality and loyalty to the kingdom of heaven’s laws, which the Creator uttered at the beginning of time, and simultaneously practice the perverse laws of the Mystery Babylon? Attempting to please the world and satisfy its demands amounts to trying to hit a moving target while blindfolded, constantly having your feet swept from underneath you on sandy ground, which has no foundation in truth.
However, with Yahuah’s laws and ways, the target is fixed and our feet are planted on solid ground. We are anchored to an unmovable foundation built on Biblical truth. Yahuah’s ways lead to freedom and rest for one’s soul – rest from the madness mentioned earlier in Genesis, Jasher, and modern societal anti-biblical law examples.
Yahusha Lifts Our Burdens
In closing, I want to clarify that I am not suggesting any rebellious anti-government sentiment. The purpose of these examples is to remind Bible believers that we are to be set apart and be a light to a lost world.
It is my hope and prayer that you will begin to see that the instructions provided in the Torah, the Prophets, and the Brit Ha’dasha (New Covenant) writings are not a heavy burden. Taking up the yoke of Yahusha, walking at his side on the narrow path, is indeed easy in comparison to the endless list of laws the world imposes on mankind.
As the scriptures teach in John 15:18-19, Matthew 5:16, Romans 12:2, and 1 Peter 2:9, we are not of the world and are called to Yahuah’s Kingdom as a set apart people. We are to live our lives set apart as an example to a very lost world that is burdened by a mountain of manmade laws. Yahusha, our Messiah, is a living example of how God’s laws model an easier way of life.
In the freedom with which Messiah has made us free, stand firm, then, and do not again be held with a yoke of slavery.Galatians 5:1 TS2009
So יהושע (Yahusha) said to those Yehuḏim who believed Him, “If you stay in My Word, you are truly My taught ones, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.John 8:31,32 TS2009
Blessing, shalom, and all glory and Honor to Yahuah on high.
Photos by Ulrike Mai and Karl Fredrickson
1 We acknowledge the controversy surrounding the authenticity of the Book of Jasher. These references are made to boldly illustrate how mankind goes astray when Yah’s rule of law is perverted.
2 See Jubilees chapters 6 and 7.
Jay Kilcrease is a native Oklahoman, U.S. Air Force veteran, husband of 19 years, and father of three boys. He served many years in music ministry and is also an ordained minister. His pursuit of academics has earned him three undergraduate degrees and an MBA from Liberty University. Jay has led his family in Torah Biblical Studies for the past ten years and aspires to apply his writing skills for the furtherance of the Gospel of the Kingdom in the service of Yahusha Ha’Mashiach.