The Story about the
Rev. Ron Friedrich
August 13, 2006
& 28 (NIrV)
27:2 This is what the LORD said to me: "Make a yoke out of
straps and poles, and put it on the back of your neck. 3 Then send messages to the kings of Edom,
Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon by their messengers who have come to
Jerusalem to see Zedekiah king of Judah. 4 Tell
them to give this message to their masters: 'The LORD
All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: "Tell your masters: 5 I made the earth, its people, and all its
animals with my great power and strength. I can give the earth to
anyone I want. 6 Now I have given
all these lands to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, my servant. I will
make even the wild animals obey him. 7 All
nations will serve Nebuchadnezzar and his son and grandson. Then the
time will come for Babylon to be defeated, and many nations and great
kings will make Babylon their servant.
12 I gave the same message to Zedekiah
king of Judah. I said, "Put yourself under the control [yoke] of the
king of Babylon and serve him, and you will live. 13
Why should you and your people die from war, hunger, or
disease, as the LORD
said would happen to those who do not serve the king of Babylon? 14 But the false prophets are saying, 'You
will never be slaves to the king of Babylon.' Don't listen to them
because they are prophesying lies to you! 15 'I
did not send them,' says the LORD.
'They are prophesying lies and saying the message is from me. So I will
send you away, Judah. And you and those prophets who prophesy to you
will die.' "
28:1 ...The prophet Hananiah son of Azzur,
from the town of Gibeon, spoke to me in the Temple of the LORD
in front of the priests and all the people. He said: 2 "The LORD
All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: 'I have broken the yoke the king
of Babylon has put on Judah. 3 Before
two years are over, I will bring back everything that Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon took to Babylon from the LORD's
Temple. 4 I will also bring back
Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and all the other captives
from Judah who went to Babylon,' says the LORD.
'So I will break the yoke the king of Babylon put on Judah.' "
10 Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke off
Jeremiah's neck and broke it. 11 Hananiah
said in front of all the people, "This is what the LORD
says: 'In the same way I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of
Babylon. He put that yoke on all the nations of the world, but I will
break it before two years are over.' " After Hananiah had said that,
Jeremiah left the Temple.
15 Then the prophet Jeremiah said to the
prophet Hananiah, "Listen, Hananiah! The LORD
did not send you, and you have made the people of Judah trust in lies. 16 So this is what the LORD
says: 'Soon I will remove you from the earth. You will die this year,
because you taught the people to turn against the LORD.'
17 Hananiah died in the seventh month of
that same year.
Back when you were learning the 10 Commandments...
1. You must have no other gods before Me [Hebrew:
"in my face!"]
2. You must not take the name of the Lord your God
[sign: You must not use the name of
the Lord your God in wrong ways.]
When I was a young catechism student in our Lutheran elementary school,
I learned that this Second Commandment means: I must not use bad
words. I must not swear and cuss.
Since those days I have learned that this commandment means much
more. The Second Commandment teaches me that I must be very, very
careful in the way I represent God, both in the way I live, and in what
Many years ago a young Deaf couple me with me. The woman had just
left her husband (not yet divorced). Now she was living with her
new boyfriend, and the two of them came me asking if I would do their
It was a pretty sick situation. Of course, my answer to their request
was no. And I encouraged the woman to work on her relationship
with her husband.
Two weeks later, Deaf people at church reported to me, "That couple is
telling everyone that you approve of what they are doing! Is that
Now I can imagine (just a little) what God may feel like when
preachers, teachers, and counselors say things about God that are not
False teachers are everywhere! We see them on TV. Their
books fill the religion section of the bookstores in the mall.
One month ago I received an email (spam) from "the Church of Almighty
God." I normally ignore spam, but the 550 page book that
was attached to this email message got my attention -- especially
because my computer is still on a dial-up service (slow!).
This book informed me that Jesus Christ has returned!
Sun Myung Moon? No.
Jim Jones? No.
David Koresh? No.
Jesus is now a woman living in China. In the Old Testament (the
Age of Law) she was called "YAHWEH." In the New Testament
(the Age of Grace) she was called Jesus (appearing as a man). Now
in the Age of the Kingdom, she is a woman calling herself "Ever New God
God-Self." She is preparing to execute eternal punishment on all
who do not worship her as God.
What I find interesting is that she quotes the Bible a lot. But
in all her 550 pages, she never once gives a reference for her
quotations. Why? Because if you looked up her quotations,
you could clearly see that she misquotes the Bible. Her
misquotations often say exactly the opposite of what the Bible really
[Click here to read my reply to the that
But what is of greater concern to me is not what false teachers say,
but what I say on behalf of God and His Word. Some of you who ask
me theology questions may notice that I very careful to tell you what
the Bible says, and what is only my opinion. I never, never,
never want to confuse those two.
It is important for every Christian to know the Bible well, so we can
detect what is true and what is false. Not everyone claims to
speak for God really does speak for Him.
That is the situation that happens in our story from Jeremiah today.
is what the LORD said
to me: "Make a yoke out of straps and poles, and put it on the back of
What is a yoke? It is a piece of farm equipment, that is
put on the shoulders of an ox, a mule, or a donkey, and then it is
attached to a plow, or a threshing sled, or a wagon. In Bible
times, yokes looked like this:
(source: Daily Life in Bible Times,by Arthur
As we saw earlier in our study, God often used a picture to make a
point. Sometimes the picture was the life and actions of God's
Remember that Jeremiah is living in a sad time of Israel's
history. For many, many years God patiently waited for Israel to
turn back to Him. He sent prophets to them, begging them to stop
worshipping idols as gods and trust only Him. Finally, God's
patience ended. Jeremiah had the difficult job of telling the
people, "All those things that God warned you about, now they will
The picture of the yoke in this story has this message for Israel:
yourself under the control [yoke] of the king of Babylon and serve him,
and you will live."
Then Hananiah, the false prophet came, broke Jeremiah's yoke, and said,
the God of Israel, says ...'I will break the yoke the king of Babylon
put on Judah.' "
Hananiah predicted this would happen in two years. Hananiah
was wrong on two points:
 God did not say that.
 Israel's freedom would come in 70 years, not 2 years.
Hananiah's false teaching really hurt the people of Israel.
How? Many people believed him. Many government officials
believed him. Hananiah's false teaching encouraged people to
rebel against Babylon, and many of them died or were sold into slavery
because of this.
Today in our culture we have many Hananiah's. The are the
prophets of our modern American culture preaching "freedom" from the
"yoke" of the 10 Commandments, and other limitations on new
lifestyles. These prophets are not only TV shows and
Hollywood movies, they are also in many so-called Christian
churches. Many of them claim that God has sent them to announce
the "gospel" of "tolerance."
Just like Hananiah's false teaching, the teaching of modern false
prophets really hurt people who believe them. This teaching
encourages people to rebel against God. And instead of
become free, they bring themselves under a more oppressive yoke of
habitual sin and immorality.
In truth, we all have carried that heavy yoke of sin. But there
is hope. God has made a way for that terrible heavy yoke to
become broken. God has made a way for us to become truly free.
Just as Jeremiah put the yoke on himself as a picture of God's
judgment, Jesus put the yoke of our sin on Himself, and He actually did
receive God's judgment. Jesus' yoke was in the shape of a
cross. There, on that cross, He died in our place.
Jesus' death & resurrection broke our yoke of sin.
Now Jesus has put on us a new yoke, His yoke. This is what He
to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I
will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am
gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For
my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew
Look again at the picture of the wooden yokes of Bible times:
Notice that for each of these four different designs of yokes, each one
attaches to how many animals? Two. Is this the picture of a
yoke that Jesus is talking about? If it is, then with whom are we
Now notice what Jesus says: "Take
my yoke upon you..."
If a farmer had a young ox that never had done farm work, the farmer
could not just hook up equipment to the young ox and expect that the
young ox would know what to do. To train the young ox, the farmer
would put him in a yoke with a strong experienced ox. The older
ox would do most of the work, while the young ox just walked along and
learned from the older ox's example.
Again, notice what Jesus says:
"Take my yoke upon
you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you
will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is
Now you are yoke to Jesus. He is pulling your load. And you
have the privilege and pleasure of walking with Him, while you share in
There is another way we can apply the picture of Christ's yoke in the
The unbeliever rebels against the moral law of God, as if God's Law
were a heavy yoke. The unbeliever wants to break free from that
The Christian believer, on the other hand, has a different yoke, a yoke
that lifts us up, not push us down. It is the yoke of Christ's
own character. Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, works in
us what the Law cannot do. We are not good people by nature -- the Law
shows us that. But Christ pours His nature, His character, His
personality into us, so that He does in us, He does through us what we
cannot do by ourselves.