Last week talked about how profound the simple things of God really are.
This week we’re going to focus on Isaiah chapter 41. Here’s a little background before we dive in.
If you read the entire chapter, you’ll see that Isaiah is predicting judgment, but eventual restoration for the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
This is also a foreshadowing of the rise of Cyrus as king 150 years before it happened.
Not only did Cyrus become king, but he also, permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem, AND he issued a decree authorizing the rebuilding of the Temple. At the time Isaiah wrote this, the Temple had not even been destroyed.
Let’s go to Isaiah 41:8-16 (NASB)
8 “But you, Israel, My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
Descendant of Abraham My friend,
9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth
And called from its remotest parts,
And said to you, ‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will also help you,
I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
11 Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored;
Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish.
12 You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them,
Those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent.
13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand,
Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’
14 Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you people of Israel;
I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
15 Behold, I turned you into a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges;
You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them,
And make the hills like chaff.
16 You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away,
And the storm will scatter them;
But you will rejoice in the Lord,
You will boast in the Holy One of Israel.
There’s language in this text that alludes to the two-sided nature or double lives of human beings.
In verse 14, God calls Jacob a “worm” and then in verse 15, He speaks of changing his identity from a worm into a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges.
A threshing sledge is a wooden implement having a flat surface and set into it are small pieces of iron or sharp stone, used for crushing and separating grain.
If you click on the link below, I’ve included a YouTube video from Our Daily Bread visually demonstrating the concept of the threshing sledge.
Image this sledge being flat on the ground dragged around like a sled. That’s how it works.
Perhaps you’ve felt like this sledge. Sometimes you feel dragged around by life.
I believe God is trying to separate the two natures. One, He’s crushing us to get rid of the chaff (the sin we were born into, and the things we’ve picked up from the world). And two, He wants to get to the good stuff in us—the part He placed inside of us.
He doesn’t want us to be double minded. He wants us to fully embrace our new identity in Him. Romans 12:2 (NKJV) says…
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Sometimes we can gather chaff rather than grain by making an idol out of our story.
Here’s what I mean…
Perhaps in our stories there’s been abuse, abandonment, neglect, lack, death—a lot of things. If we’re not prayerful, we can make an idol out of our pain.
We find ourselves in this continuous loop of suffering because we don’t know how to give the pain to Jesus or simply refuse move past that point in our lives—it’s become familiar and uncomfortably comfortable.
We can’t effectively plan for the future while identifying with the negatives of our past. Yes, it’s a fact that it did happen. I’m not dismissing the tragic things that happen in our lives by any means.
And yes, God will and does use these things for our good, BUT we have to be able to SEE past the past.
In order to move forward, we must change our perception of our stories by renewing our minds. It may not feel like it, and we may not understand it, BUT there is a purpose in pain.
Look at the life of our Savior.
Right now, are you identifying with fear, guilt, shame, rejection, any other negative emotion?
Stop punishing yourself for something you did in the past, or something you had no control over. Everyday, the Lord has new mercies for us.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB reads…
22 The Lord’s acts of mercy indeed do not end,
For His compassions do not fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Stop trying to work yourself to the bone to PROVE to God and to others that you’re worthy. You are worthy and righteous because you accepted His Son, Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB 1995) says, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Remember that Jesus, Himself, must have felt dragged around from the garden sweating as drops of blood, the betrayal, to His trials, the scourging, carrying His own cross, and finally the crucifixion.
Parts of our identity may need to be upgraded.
We sing songs with words like this… “I want all that you have for me. Jesus, all that you have for me, YET…
We’re identifying with FEAR instead of FAITH.
LOW CONFIDENCE instead of GOD CONFIDENCE.
And then there are times instead of talking to God we use escapism—our kids, the TV, vices in “moderation,” of course.
Do you want a moderate blessing?
Then let’s get ourselves together with God’s help. And stop allowing the enemy to use that sad story to keep us bound, so that we can have all that He has for us.
The enemy thought he knew how Jesus’ story was going to end. BUT His story didn’t end at His death. Three days later, he flipped the script.
He rose again, and so will you. But you can’t still be thinking, “They did this to me or that to me!” RENEW YOUR MIND. Ask God to heal your heart and how He will use this part of your story for the good of others.
Let’s move from being a victim in the world to a victor in Jesus Christ—and not just singing about it, only seeing glimpses of it, and never experiencing it.
Our God is an awesome God!
Tear down those mountains that have kept you bound in the past. You are no longer a “worm” but a new, sharp threshing sledge with TEETH.
Separate yourself from the chaff. 1 Peter 1:15 (AMP) says,
But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your conduct [be set apart from the world by your godly character and moral courage].
This week listen to the song Soften My Heart by Bonnie Knopf and Awesome God by Michael W. Smith—get it in your spirit.
You’ll find the links to both in the show notes. And finally, meditate on Isaiah 41:8-16.
Until next time, understanding our identity, our life is in Christ, that’s the point of purpose…see you next time for part 7.
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Soften My Heart
Our God is an Awesome God