Isaiah 41:14-20: Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you people of Israel
New American Standard Bible
Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you people of Israel;
I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your [a]Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
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.
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.
“The poor and needy are seeking water, but there is none,
And their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the Lord, will answer them Myself;
As the God of Israel I will not abandon them.
I will open rivers on the bare heights,
And springs in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
And the dry land fountains of water.
I will put the cedar in the wilderness,
The acacia, the myrtle, and the olive tree;
I will place the juniper in the desert,
Together with the elm tree and the cypress,
So that they may see and recognize,
And consider and gain insight as well,
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
And the Holy One of Israel has created it.
The Lord tells Israel not to fear. The Lord compares them to a worm. This is how Israel saw themselves in exile and this is how the nations that dominated them saw them. They saw them as powerless and something to be crushed and devoured. But the Lord speaks a word of encouragement. The Lord says that He is the redeemer of Israel. He is the Holy One of Israel. Though Israel may feel like a worm and has gone through much suffering because of their disobedience, the Lord has not abandoned them and at the perfect time the Lord shall set them free of their bondage.
The Lord says that He will make them into a threshing sledge with sharp teeth. In the hand of Almighty God Israel will become an instrument of God’s power and might. The Lord says that the mountains will be threshed and the hills will be made like chaff. These represent the nations of the earth that God will deal with in His time. God has a perfect time in which He will always deal with wickedness and sin. No matter how overwhelmed we may feel we must know in our hearts that God is in control. There has not been a time throughout Israel’s history in which God has abandoned them.
When God is done the mountains and the hills will be nothing but chaff. They will blow away and cease to exist. What shall remain is God Almighty and His covenant with Israel. God will always fulfill His every purpose in the hearts of His people. As we trust the Lord and grow in Him, our faith deepens and our ability to be used by God increases.
In the end Israel shall rejoice at the goodness of God. After seventy years of captivity the Lord would restore Israel to the land by His mighty hand. They would glory in the Holy one of Israel. We must focus and fix our hearts upon the goodness and the greatness of God. God is fully in control and as we seek Him, He will do a mighty work in our lives. No matter how much the enemy tries to lie to us, we must know in our hearts that God will always have His way. As we trust Him the purposes of God will be fulfilled.
The Lord’s promise is not to forsake His people. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He holds us in His hands and He provides every need. The poor and needy God speaks of here are those who would return from Babylonian captivity back to Israel. They would walk through hot dry desert and wilderness. But they had nothing to fear for the Lord would go before them and provide for every need.
The Lord speaks of supernaturally moving to meet the needs of His people. He says He will open rivers on desolate heights, fountains in the midst of valleys, the wilderness will be turned into a pool of water, and the dry land will produce springs of water. Israel’s return from Babylon to the land God had promised them would not have been successful if the Lord was not with them. But God is always faithful. No matter how we feel, it doesn’t impact the faithfulness of God.
Each one of these trees spoken of here is found in the land of Israel. Their purpose is to produce shade. The Lord would not only provide the provision needed to return to the land, but the Lord would also comfort them and guard them from the heat of the Sun. God is truly concerned with the very small details of our lives. He desires we bring all things before Him in prayer.
The purpose of God moving in this way is for the people to understand that God has done this and it has been by His hand alone. The purpose of the Babylonian captivity was to set the people free of idolatry. To fully turn their hearts back to the Lord. This is often how God uses suffering in our lives. Suffering in the hands of God will be used for our good and His glory. But we must diligently trust God through the process.