(48) therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.
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God warns the Israelites that, if they failed to serve Him properly, He would allow their enemies to fit them with a "yoke of iron." Clearly, the yoke of iron—a heavy, uncomfortable, unyielding, confining restraint—is an implement of destruction used by God to punish His people for their sins.
As this passage indicates, people bring this yoke upon themselves through disobedience to God's law. If we are feeling that our yoke is too heavy, maybe we are wearing the wrong yoke. If so, we need to examine ourselves (II Corinthians 13:5). Have we brought the yoke of iron upon ourselves? If we do not repent, a heavy yoke of sin will destroy us!
How many times do we blame God for our trials, when in fact, by our ingratitude and worldliness, we have fitted ourselves with an iron yoke! When we refuse to recognize our sins or to evaluate our spiritual condition soberly, we are returning to the bondage from which we have been so graciously freed. Jeremiah writes in Lamentations 1:14: "The yoke of my transgressions was bound . . ., and thrust upon my neck. He made my strength fail; the Lord delivered me into the hands of those whom I am not able to withstand."
I Corinthians 10:13 is a familiar scripture where God tells us that He will never give us a trial that is more than we can handle. He will never allow us to be tempted without providing a way out. In other words, we do not have to sin! We do not have to bring the curse of the iron yoke upon our necks! The apostle John tells us that keeping God's commandments is not burdensome (I John 5:3). Our "burden" is not as burdensome as we may think; we can always lighten it by doing what God says is right.
Even so, it is not easy. The discipline required to be a disciple of Christ is hard work. Anyone who thinks that the Christian life does not involve work is wrong. Contrary to popular belief, God never said that we would not have to work. He never said we would not have to endure. He never said that the Christian life would be without pain or weariness—but He did say that He would supply our needs and that He would finish what He started in us.
— Ronny H. Graham