Worms with Teeth!

Opening Prayer

My God, strengthen me and help me; uphold me with Your righteous right hand (10).

Read Isaiah 41:1–20

“Be silent before me, you islands!
Let the nations renew their strength!
Let them come forward and speak;
let us meet together at the place of judgment.

2 “Who has stirred up one from the east,
calling him in righteousness to his service?
He hands nations over to him
and subdues kings before him.
He turns them to dust with his sword,
to windblown chaff with his bow.
3 He pursues them and moves on unscathed,
by a path his feet have not traveled before.
4 Who has done this and carried it through,
calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord—with the first of them
and with the last—I am he.”

5 The islands have seen it and fear;
the ends of the earth tremble.
They approach and come forward;
6 they help each other
and say to their companions, “Be strong!”
7 The metalworker encourages the goldsmith,
and the one who smooths with the hammer
spurs on the one who strikes the anvil.
One says of the welding, “It is good.”
The other nails down the idol so it will not topple.

8 “But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

11 “All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
13 For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,
new and sharp, with many teeth.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
and reduce the hills to chaff.
16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,
and a gale will blow them away.
But you will rejoice in the Lord
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

17 “The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
19 I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
20 so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Reflect

What do you think God intends your life to be for? Prepare an initial answer then read on.

Several of Isaiah’s key themes are highlighted in this passage. The absolute sovereignty of God is affirmed—over apparently impressive human conquerors (1–4). The proper status of God’s people is also made fairly clear: we are worms. Indeed, we seem to be rather fearful worms; this is directly spoken about in verses 10, 13 and 14.

Marauding armies would have been a reality for Isaiah’s contemporaries—and victims of Syrian wars are experiencing the same sheer terror in some of the same places today. However, more mundane, gut-wrenching worries can also be deeply destructive of life. Perhaps most of us can identify more easily with those everyday sorts of fears. Isaiah would encourage us with two mighty truths. Firstly, God’s people have been chosen to be a servant of the living God. The idea is that we should stand shoulder to shoulder with Abraham, Moses and Isaiah himself in declaring the good news of God’s kingdom. Secondly, because God will help us in this service (14) we will be people of power. From frightened worms we will be transformed into “threshing
sledges” (15), strong platforms with cutting edges honed to drive out any obstacles which stand in the way of God’s good purposes.

Apply

Whatever your fears may be today, envisage yourself taking hold of God’s hand. Then step out rejoicing as you trust in God.

Closing prayer

God, I praise You for what You have done in my life! You didn’t have to—but You did. You are a wonderful God.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider