Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian. – Isaiah 9.2-4
There are a couple of kinds of yokes. One kind of yoke is the kind a person might use to carry a load. It goes over the shoulders and has hooks or some kind of devices to attach a load to both sides so that the weight is balanced. The other is a device used to attach animals together to pull a load.
I think this yoke is the first kind. The people of Israel were under the yoke of the Midianites. Over and over God had delivered the nation from the oppressive yoke of various nations.
But we know now in retrospect that this ‘lifting of a yoke’ also pictures the yoke of sin or the yoke of the Law that was lifted on the cross. We are all born with a great sin burden. Nothing we could do had any power to break that burden. Jesus said ‘don’t use that yoke that you are carrying by yourself, join up to my yoke, for it is a light burden.’
Israel could rejoice that their yoke of oppression was broken. We an rejoice that Jesus broke our yoke of sin on the cross.