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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

"Unequally Yoked"


Message Summary: For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people'."


"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people'" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).


Amish team in field
Living among the Amish provides an opportunity to experience "living history". The other day I was passing the field across from the meadow where today's horse photo was taken and spotted our Amish neighbor out doing field work with his team of horses. We kind of wonder if the working horses look across the road to the other freely grazing horses with envy!
Oxen with yokeIn many ways the Amish farming methods are closer to the Bible period than the modern period with the use of yoked animals rather than tractors. However even today we still have a reminder of the initial source of power with the term "horsepower" still applied to modern engines.
Today let us consider a verse that we first recall often being applied to dating relationships and marriage. It begins, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14).

The phrase "unequally yoked together" is the translation of a single Greek word, heterozygountes (see here). This is a compound word that means, "to yoke up differently; to associate discordantly; unequally yoke together." It is used only one time in the Bible. The word "yoke" means a coupling as when two oxen are coupled or yoked together by a pulling beam to do work such as plowing a field or pulling a wagon.

Brooksyne's grandpa
Brooksyne spent a week every summer with her grandparents in the mountains of northwest Arkansas. Her grandfather (photo on left) didn't own modern equipment but still farmed his land using a plow pulled by two mules. He hooked them together with a yoke before hitching them up to the plow. The yoke prevented the mules from going two directions and provided double the strength and speed of a single mule.
Essentially, the yoke united the mules for one singular purpose. This analogy helps me to remember why Paul cautions believers to be wise in their relationships because light and darkness cannot be as one – their purposes for existence are completely opposite. To try to blend two contrasts and make them one would bring about complete chaos, confusion, and weakness.

Yoke
The apostle Paul calls believers, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." As we mentioned above, this verse is often used in the context of dating and marriage and certainly applies to those kinds of relationships, but in this context Paul does not limit it to a physical relationship. As we compare this verse to others in the Scripture he seems to be speaking of the friendships and partnerships we build in our lives. Paul is not speaking of mere contact with those not of the faith, for that's an essential part of our reaching the lost in this world. Earlier in 1 Corinthians he acknowledges that inevitably we will have contact with people who live in darkness, otherwise "you would have to leave this world" (5:10).

Paul follows this command "Do not be yoked" with a series of questions, each requiring the negative answer:

  • For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?
  • And what communion has light with darkness?
  • And what accord has Christ with Belial?
  • Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
  • And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
This section ends with "For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people'."

In the spiritual realm the Bible clearly instructs us to leave the life of darkness and to walk or live in the light. Today as we are surrounded by spiritual darkness let us again remember God's call. We are to move out of the darkness, walk in the light and stay in the light. Don't be caught lurking in the shadows, fearful of taking a stand, whether it's at our workplace, in our neighborhood, or even within our own family. We read of the outcome of Peter's denial of Christ when he, along with other disciples, moved away from Jesus and observed from a distance, even hiding in the darkened shadows. Instead let us be bold in our walk and take a stand in this age where there is great temptation to "blend in" so that everybody is comfortable. Jesus stood apart and He challenges us as well, "Be ye holy, even as I am holy."


Be encouraged today,


Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

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