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Burden Bearing

Burden Bearing

     Within the Bible, much is said about burden and burdens. Sometimes as these are mentioned, they reference actual “weight”, while at other times, it is apparent that the term is metaphorical.   For instance, in the giving of the Law to Moses, Commandment was made in Exodus 23:5 regarding assisting one, even the enemy of the Jews. In this Commandment, burden is described as actual weight.   If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.   But in Exodus 18:22, sage advice is given to Moses by his father-in-Law which uses burden in a different sense.   He advised Moses to appoint God-fearing men of Israel to judge the smaller matters among the people lest Moses be overcome and become “worn down”. He said: “And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.” Upon reading the next verse, we can see that this “advice” was prefaced with it being God’s Will. If so, then it would be pleasing to God and to the benefit of Israel. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.

     From this, we can perhaps understand the idea of the “yoke”. Long ago, it was learned that when “bound” together, two or more animals could bear a burden, pull a load, do a great task, etc., better than a single animal.   Man has often used this concept to lessen the “strain” of labor. Perhaps this is the idea of Ecclesiastes 4:12. And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.   We know this is how the wall of Jerusalem was repaired in Nehemiah 4:6. So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.   They “bore that burden” together.

       Some synonyms for “burden” are responsibilities, troubles, obligations, problems, or worries. Our responsibilities or obligations should never be a burden to us.   At the same time, it is easy to see how troubles, problems or worries can indeed be burdensome. For example, when one takes on the responsibility of marriage and family, this should never be a burden. Once “committed” to these things, and the obligations included, it should be a joy to fulfill them.   The same should be said of our service to God.  This should never be a burden. This is the idea behind Psalm 5:11. But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

     Interestingly, the Word of the Lord is called a burden. Here, it is used in the sense of being an utterance or a prophecy from God. This was the case in Jeremiah 23:32-33. Israel of old, had been given Commandments of God, yet often, some of the prophets improperly guided the people by speaking lies.   Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. 33 And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.

     The Word of God to Israel is also spoken of as being “burden” in this sense in Nahum 1:1. This is because the Spirit gave Nahum God’s Word for Nineveh.

The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. As we can see this was in the form of a vision. Moving forward through the Old Testament, we find the same in Habakkuk 1:1. This was either an observation or a vision. The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.   Then, as we look farther on, we find another incident of this in Zechariah 9:1.   The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.   The final O.T. occurrence is found in the final O.T. book. The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. (Malachi 1:1)

       As we contemplate this in the N.T., perhaps we think of the Words of the Lord in Matthew 11:28-30. We know that the only way one can come to the Lord, is in accordance with His Word. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. If this is taken in the same light as the Old Testament scriptures stated above, can we not see that the Christ is referencing His Word as “burden” in the same way?

     Christ also mentions the “yoke” in this passage. The bearing of a “burden” is made much easier when a yoke is employed.   Notice that Christ called man to bear “His yoke”. He helps us as we endeavor to serve Him in accordance with His Word. In addition to this, we know from 1John 5:3 that what He expects of us in not too difficult to do. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.   Following God’s Word is not a burden.     Look into His Word and follow it to the letter so you can spend eternity with Him.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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