The Anointing That Destroys The Yoke?

yoked oxen colorI can remember as a child, I used to always hear people say:  “The Bible says. . .” They would complete the statement with a quote or a paraphrase that supposedly came from the Bible. Now, although many of the things I heard sounded like good, wise and sound biblical advice, I discovered later on that many of those things were not actually found in the Bible! In fact, not only were they not in the Bible, many of them were not even implied by the Bible and some were even opposite of what the Bible actually said! For example, I heard people say: “The Bible says: ‘God helps those who help themselves!” Now I understood their point. They were saying that a person has to have some initiative to help themselves and not just depend on God or others to do everything for them. But, I discovered that the Bible doesn’t say that! In fact, the Bible seems to imply that God is especially apt to help those who “cannot” help themselves!

So along that line of thought, I have always heard people say that the Bible says: “It’s the anointing that destroys the yoke!” Well, I looked it up and guess what? The Bible does say something similar to that! It’s found in Isaiah 10:27 and it says: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.” (KJV) Whew! I was glad to know that some of what I’ve been hearing people say was in the Bible was actually in the Bible!  However, I also discovered that the Bible doesn’t mean it in the way in which most people use it! Let me show you what I’m talking about! Most of the time when I heard and hear this preached or taught, the speaker is making reference to the fact that the anointing of God is able to break any yoke (a yoke being anything that has us in bondage, be it spiritual or physical such as sickness, debt, substance abuse, etc.,) in our lives. Now that sounds good! It sounds like something God would do! But is that actually the meaning and message of the text in Isaiah 10:27? I think not! Let me show you why!

One of the primary rules of proper exegesis (that’s just a fancy word for properly handling and interpreting the text) is that the text cannot be divorced from its context. The context of this text is the Assyrian Captivity. God used Assyria to execute judgment upon the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of sin. However, the Assyrians got the “big-head” and attributed their dominion over Israel, not to an act of the Lord, but to their own strength and power. The words of our text are a promise to the remnant of Israel that eventually the yoke of Assyrian oppression would be destroyed. Note, in the context, that the yoke was really the result of God’s judgment more so than the enemy’s actions.

Now when I looked at this text in some of the English versions other than the KJV/NKJV (King James Version/New King James Version), I discovered that where the KJV/NKJV use the term “anointing,” most of the other English versions use the term “fat” or some derivative of it such as “fatness.”  When I looked at the text in the Hebrew and conducted some lexical research, I also discovered that the word the KJV/NKJV translates as “anointing” is the Hebrew word: “shemen” or “semen.” According the TWOT (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament) the primary meaning of this Hebrew word is “fat” and “oil.” It is used to covey the idea of prosperity and well-being. The idea in Isaiah 10:27 is that the Assyrian yoke would be broken or destroyed because like oxen that have grown fat, the yoke would be broken and destroyed by Israel’s neck becoming too large to be contained by it! It also interesting to note that, of all the occurrences of this word in the Hebrew text (nearly 200 times!), this is the only occurrence where the KJV/NKJV translates it as “anointing.” All the other times, it is translated as fat, fatness, richness, or fertile.  And even where the idea of anointing is clearly present, shemen or semen is translated as “oil” and is always found combined with the Hebrew word “mashach,” which means to smear or anoint.

So what am I saying? Am I saying that the anointing doesn’t break the yoke in the sense that many people say it does? I don’t know! (I do know that it is not wise to base a doctrine, a practice, or a belief on just one verse! Especially when the translation and/or interpretation of that verse is suspect!) What I am saying is that this particular verse cannot be used in all exegetical and hermeneutical honestly to arrive at and support the conclusion that the anointing, as many people refer to it, breaks the yoke. I don’t know about the anointing destroying the yoke, but I do know that the Anointed One (Christ) does! And because he does; I am not so much worried about “having the anointing that destroys the yoke” as I am about having the yoke of the Anointed One! The focus should be on responding appropriately to his call in which he invites us: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV)

Thermostats and Thermometers

Do you the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer? A thermostat is a device that is used to set the temperature, but a thermometer is a device that is used to register the temperature. When it comes to life situations, most people are thermometers. For the most part, most people do not set the temperatures of their lives; they just merely react to the temperatures that life sets for them! They are like bubbles on the water and waves on a storm-tossed sea. To them, life is a series of events of which they feel that they have no control. They specialize in singing the Doris Day theme song: “Kai Sari, Sari! The future is not ours to see! Whatever will be will be! Kai, sari, sari!”

thermostatthermometerBut I want you to know today that you don’t have to live your life just being a thermometer, merely registering the temperatures set by people and circumstances beyond your control! You don’t have to be merely reactive; you can be proactive! You need to realize that there is a certain amount of control you can have over what happens in your life; if you would just take that control! Let me give you a simple example of what I am talking about. Have you ever heard the expression, or perhaps you have used it yourself: “He/she made me mad!” Let’s analyze that statement for a second. If that person indeed made you mad, then that means that the person in question had an undue amount of control and influence over you at that time! But the fact of the matter is this: (Read my lips!) No one can really “make” you mad! You become angry because that is how you choose to respond to stimulus provided by other people. You can choose not to get upset! You get upset and angry because that’s the way you choose to respond to the situation! But no one can “make” you mad!  Now while we, in many cases, cannot control how people may treat us, we can control how we respond to the way they treat us! When we respond to inflammatory situations with heated responses, we are just thermometers registering the temperature. But, when we choose to respond with kindness, we take control of the situation and set the temperature to a level we choose to operate in.

Even if you have been a thermometer up to this point and you would like to be a thermostat; all it takes is for you to realize and act upon the knowledge that you have a certain amount of control! As long as you are content to remain a thermometer, other people will use you to serve their own ends and will always control your life. If you don’t have a plan for your life, you can bet that someone else does and chances are, their plans for you will not serve your best interest! You say that the temperature in your life is too hot or too cold? Quit grumbling and complaining because you have the power to change the temperature! The choice is up to you: Either you live the rest of your life, being a thermometer, merely registering the temperature or you decide that, from this day forward, you are going to be the thermostat and change the temperature of your life to a setting that is more comfortable for you!

Defeated by Default

batterHave you ever watched a baseball game and noticed how many times a batter is retired by called-strikes? A called-strike occurs when the pitcher throws the ball within the strike-zone, but the batter refuses to swing at it! I have watched games in which some batters watched three good pitches go by without ever attempting to lift the bat from their shoulders! Now I know that, in the game of baseball, the batter is trained to wait for certain pitches. But it seems to be a shame to me that, all too often, the batter is defeated by default while he is waiting on the “right” pitch!

Well, many people live their lives in the same manner! They are constantly defeated by default! Some times it is because they have had so many failures in the past that the desire to compete is no longer present. They are like the blues singer I heard singing, he moaned: “I’ve been down so long that getting up don’t even cross my mind!” Some times they are just waiting for the “right pitch” (the perfect opportunity) and are afraid to swing at something they are not completely sure of. But whatever the case, they allow many of life’s opportunities to past them by without even making an attempt! So many times success would be a real possibility, if they only took a swing at it! But, they are held captive by their past casualties and/or are fooled by the false belief that everything must be exactly just right before they give it a try! They are waiting for all the traffic lights to turn green before they pull out of the driveway!

But my friend, no matter how many times you have been to the plate of life and struck out, I want to encourage you to give it another try! You might surprise yourself with a hit! By the way, in the game of baseball, did you know that if you are a .300 hitter, you are considered to be good? Just think about that for a moment! A good hitter in baseball only gets about three (3) hits out of ten! The best hitters in baseball miss the ball more times than they hit it! Babe Ruth once held the record for the most hits and home-runs, but he also held the record for the most strike-outs! Life will throw you some curves and many times you will strike out! In fact, more than likely, you will taste defeat more often than you taste victory. But, defeat is not really defeat if you learn something from the experience. Don’t let your defeats intimidate you to the point that you stop trying! Keep swinging the bat! Weight your options; calculate the risks and rewards. Then, when the pitch (the opportunity) comes; give it a swing! You may strike out, but at least you would have given it a try! If you keep swinging long enough and hard enough, sooner or later, you are bound to get a hit and it might even be a home run! But you will never know, if you never lift the bat from your shoulders! You will never get a hit if you never take a swing! And those who never swing at the ball or take risks in life always end up defeated by default!

The Seventh Sense

the number 7It is a common belief that most of us were born with five senses: (1) The sense of sight, (2) the sense of hearing, (3) the sense of smell, (4) the sense of touch, and (5) the sense of taste. It is also believed that there are some of us who are extraordinarily gifted in the area of perception and have what is called the “sixth sense.” The sixth sense is defined as; “The power of perception seemingly independent of the five senses; keen intuition.”

But, I beg to differ with common belief! First of all, I don’t think that the “sixth sense” is reserved for only a select group of people. I believe that most “normal” people and even those who may lack one or more of the other five senses also possess the sixth sense. However, in most cases, the sixth sense is undeveloped because of ignorance and lack of use. Just as the other senses are sharpened through training and use, and are weakened from lack of use, so it is also with the sixth sense. But, I also depart from common thought in regard to the total number of senses that we have been given. I believe that we have been given, not just five, not just an additional one to make six, but in fact, seven senses!

The seventh sense is the sense of faith! Now, I know that our religious training has taught us that faith is  possessed only by those who have made a confession of faith. We have been trained to think of faith as strictly a religious phenomenon that is diametrically opposed to the senses. The Bible says that we are to walk by faith and not by sight! But, let’s just look at what the Bible says faith is. According to the Hebrew writer, “Faith is the substance of things hope for and the evidence of things not seen.” The Bible also says that God has given to every man “a measure of faith.” Now I know that in the proper context of that scripture (Romans 12:3), Paul was referring primarily to those “in Christ.” But, think about it! In a very real sense, everybody has faith and everybody uses faith! Even people who claim to have no religious beliefs!

We all use faith every day! Most of us don’t understand how electricity works in our homes, but we flip the switch, trusting that the light or the appliance will come on; that’s faith! We fly on commercial aircraft, not knowing whether or not the pilot has been properly trained, in most cases, not even knowing his name! That’s faith! We don’t know whether or not the aircraft is even flight-worthy, but we step on board! That’s faith! We work before we receive compensation for time and services rendered; that’s faith! We sign insurance contracts and pay premiums, relying upon the company to honor the claim; that’s faith! The point is this: We all have and use faith! It’s so easy for us to have faith in men who are prone to fail. But why not have faith in God who never fails? After all, it was He who gave us the sense of faith in the first place! And I believe He gave us that sense primarily so that we might have faith in Him! The seventh sense is the sense of faith and we all, to a certain degree, walk by faith and not by sight!