“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…” 2 Corinthians 6:14a
God commanded the Christians at Corinth not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. A yoke represents some type of binding agreement that one enters into willingly, that he or she is not able to get out of by themselves, like the bonds of marriage. This is illustrated for us by the Old Testament commandment not to yoke “…an ox and an ass together”.
“Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.” Deuteronomy 22:10
An ass is the only animal that, because of the positioning of his eyes, can see all four feet at the same time; i.e. he walks by sight, not by faith! An ass pictures a lost man because he is stiff-necked, stubborn, rebellious by nature, and in need of constant pricking, we’re all “born” that way!
“For vain men would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.” Job 11:12
An ox on the other hand pictures a mature Christian because he is a clean animal (Leviticus 11:1-4), mature in age, that has been castrated, i.e. undergone an operation. This operation is an event that changes the life of the animal and his interests in the affairs of this life, just as the “operation of God”, “the circumcision made without hands” (Colossians 2:11, 12), changes a person when they get saved. Oxen (plural) therefore represent Christians who are teamed together, with a wooden cross, for the work of the ministry, treading out the corn, for others to make bread, i.e. word of God (Luke 4:4).
“For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” 1 Timothy 5:18
Historically speaking, even the yoke required for an ass and an ox are different, the wooden loop that went around the oxen’s neck would choke an ass over time, and therefore it required a softer, padded yoke, made from leather (maybe the leather from sheep?). Oddly enough, God required both men and asses to be redeemed by the blood of a lamb, i.e. Jesus (John 1:29)!
“And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.” Exodus 13:13
Oh the lessons we could learn from asses and oxen. Oxen carry their cross daily without complaining, they are used to cultivate the soil, i.e. hearts of man (Matthew 13:18-23), they get on their knees when the going gets tough; they work as a team, etc. Oxen are the king of domesticated animals and are known for their work, accomplished by having a strong walk! Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” Friend, I would like to invite you to get hitched today by responding to Christ’s great invitation to “come unto me”. By yielding to the master’s pricking, you can lay down your heavy load at the foot of the cross and find rest!
“Come unto me, all ye that labour 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