Richard stayed in school after work very late to study for his test on Marriage and Family. His classmate, Hank, was their also. They talked for a few minutes about their class and decided to leave. Hank realized that Richard was on public transportation, so he offered Richard a ride in car. Richard readily agreed. The conversation continued in the car and eventually it shifted into the importance of avoiding unequal yokes. ("Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14.) Richard, feeling very strong about it said, "Under no circumstance should any Christian marry someone outside of their faith – that is what Paul is talking about." Hank looked at Richard with a mischievous smile, and said, "You do not have any clue, do you?" Puzzled, Richard answered softly, "what? What are you talking about?" Hank continued to smile quietly, as in deep thought. Then he started to speak, "I will tell you a story. A friend of mine, who also goes to my church, bought a radio station. He wants to use it for ministry purposes. He bought it with a partner who wants to use it to make money. My friend now is at a quandary." Richard asked in amazement, "What is your friend going to do?" Hank answered, "He has been trying to convince his partner. But, his partner won't have it. He said the money is an investment, and he expects a profit. They have fought over this. My friend can barely sleep with stress. This dilemma is driving him to depression. In fact, it is now affecting his marriage. His wife is starting to question whether she married the right man." Richard asked, "What?" Hank nodded and continued to say, "So you see, unequal yokes are more than just about marriage." Richard replied, "Wow, I have a lot to think about."
In simple terms a yoke is something that connects or joins together. However, the expression is derived from farming. In this context a yoke is a crossbar with two U-shaped pieces that encircle the necks of a pair of oxen or other draft animals working together*. The idea is that they will go in the same direction at the same speed. The two beasts work together doing the same job. The job requires the two; one cannot do its own. But, what happens when the beasts want to go at different speed? What happens if one beast will not walk and the other will? What happens when one beast wants to go in a different direction? Not only will they both suffer, but also the job that brought the two beasts together will not get done.
Abraham wanted to make sure Isaac was equally yoked. So he sent his servant Eliezer to find an equally yoke wife for his son. He wanted someone for his son that was willing to walk by Faith with the Lord as he and Sarah did. We read in Genesis 24: 2-4,
Genesis 24: 2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
Genesis 24: 3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
Genesis 24: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
Notice that Abraham sent someone he trusted, from among his own people. He sent someone equally yoked with him to find an equally yoked wife for his son, Isaac. Abraham also did this when he rescued Lot from those who invaded Sodom. He did not entrust or recruit anyone from the surrounding pagan communities to rescue his nephew. He mounted and armed his own equally yoked men to go on this rescue mission (Genesis 14: 14-16).
Abraham trusted God in providing men for war. Abraham trusted the Lord in providing a good "match-maker." Abraham trusted God that the woman God chose through Eliezer would be equally yoked with Isaac. Are we also praying and trusting God to provide equally yoked partners for all of our life endeavors? Maybe we should.
*When Christ says in Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you…" He means that one of the U-shaped bars is on His neck, and you are to put the other U-shaped bar on your neck. So you walk in unity with Him.