"But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
‘You are my servant.’
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
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.
All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
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.
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."
- Isaiah 41:8-14
"But you, Israel, my servant,
The Worm Israel Becomes the Threshing Sled of the Nations
The nation’s source of hope and strength is their idols and their false philosophies. Verses 41:1-7 give us a description of the labor, the planning, the cooperation and teamwork used by the pagans to create an idol (or, a false world philosophy). Would it not be easier to trust God? Isn’t organizing and leading a revolt a lot of work? This rebellion of the nations is summed up in Psalm 2. In Isaiah 41:8-16 God will now speak to Israel. The Lord will deal differently with Israel than he deals with the nations. The Lord has a covenant with Israel and will complete his promise 41:8 The nations need to fear, but Israel does not. Though Israel will be punished and disciplined they will honor God and be delivered. 41:9 God tells Israel where they have come from. He says:
• “I took you”
• “I called you”
• “You are My servant.”
• “I have chosen you”
• “I have not rejected you.”
Their identity is all based on God, his will, his actions, his plan. They need not be afraid. 41:10 Because verse 41:9 is true and God is not going to change, then the statements in verse 41:10 are also true for Israel:
• “I am with you. . .do not be afraid.”
• “I am your God. . . do not be dismayed.”
• “I will strengthen you.”
• “I will help you.”
• “I will uphold you”
Never before had an exiled nations been brought back to their homeland to start over. Israel is the only nation to undergo the five cycles of judgment and be brought back as a nation. This has now happened twice. 41:11 The promises to Israel continue but this time in reference to their enemies and the nations that opposes them.
• Disgrace and shame to those who rage against Israel
• Opponents are as nothing and will vanish
• Enemies cannot be found
• Those who wage war against Israel will be as nothing at all. (Ezekiel 38, 39 describes the end of today’s terrorist states.)
Of course, these promises were fulfilled in Cyrus’s day. But, the principles of God’s dealing with Israel continue like this forever. 41:13-14 God says he will defend Israel even though Jacob is a defenseless worm. Worm is used to describe Jacob’s condition and inability to help themselves. Worm is obviously NOT a term used to ascribe Israel’s value to God. Israel is called God’s treasure. 41:15 In Isaiah 41:15, the worm, the tiller of the soil in 41:14, becomes the threshing sledge of the mountains and hills.
Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge,
new, sharp, and having teeth;
you shall thresh the mountains and crush them,
and you shall make the hills like chaff. - Isaiah 41:15
I will not be discouraged when things do not work out like I planned.
I will continue doing good and receive strength from the Lord.
Solomon Builds His Palace
7 It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace. 2 He built the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon a hundred cubits long, fifty wide and thirty high, with four rows of cedar columns supporting trimmed cedar beams. 3 It was roofed with cedar above the beams that rested on the columns—forty-five beams, fifteen to a row. 4 Its windows were placed high in sets of three, facing each other. 5 All the doorways had rectangular frames; they were in the front part in sets of three, facing each other.
6 He made a colonnade fifty cubits long and thirty wide. In front of it was a portico, and in front of that were pillars and an overhanging roof.
7 He built the throne hall, the Hall of Justice, where he was to judge, and he covered it with cedar from floor to ceiling. 8 And the palace in which he was to live, set farther back, was similar in design. Solomon also made a palace like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married.
9 All these structures, from the outside to the great courtyard and from foundation to eaves, were made of blocks of high-grade stone cut to size and smoothed on their inner and outer faces. 10 The foundations were laid with large stones of good quality, some measuring ten cubits and some eight. 11 Above were high-grade stones, cut to size, and cedar beams. 12 The great courtyard was surrounded by a wall of three courses of dressed stone and one course of trimmed cedar beams, as was the inner courtyard of the temple of the Lord with its portico.
The Temple’s Furnishings
13 King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram, 14 whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was from Tyre and a skilled craftsman in bronze. Huram was filled with wisdom, with understanding and with knowledge to do all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him.
15 He cast two bronze pillars, each eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference. 16 He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; each capital was five cubits high. 17 A network of interwoven chains adorned the capitals on top of the pillars, seven for each capital. 18 He made pomegranates in two rows encircling each network to decorate the capitals on top of the pillars. He did the same for each capital. 19 The capitals on top of the pillars in the portico were in the shape of lilies, four cubits high. 20 On the capitals of both pillars, above the bowl-shaped part next to the network, were the two hundred pomegranates in rows all around. 21 He erected the pillars at the portico of the temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz. 22 The capitals on top were in the shape of lilies. And so the work on the pillars was completed.
23 He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. 24 Below the rim, gourds encircled it—ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea.
25 The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center. 26 It was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths.
27 He also made ten movable stands of bronze; each was four cubits long, four wide and three high. 28 This is how the stands were made: They had side panels attached to uprights. 29 On the panels between the uprights were lions, bulls and cherubim—and on the uprights as well. Above and below the lions and bulls were wreaths of hammered work. 30 Each stand had four bronze wheels with bronze axles, and each had a basin resting on four supports, cast with wreaths on each side. 31 On the inside of the stand there was an opening that had a circular frame one cubit deep. This opening was round, and with its basework it measured a cubit and a half. Around its opening there was engraving. The panels of the stands were square, not round. 32 The four wheels were under the panels, and the axles of the wheels were attached to the stand. The diameter of each wheel was a cubit and a half. 33 The wheels were made like chariot wheels; the axles, rims, spokes and hubs were all of cast metal.
34 Each stand had four handles, one on each corner, projecting from the stand. 35 At the top of the stand there was a circular band half a cubit deep. The supports and panels were attached to the top of the stand. 36 He engraved cherubim, lions and palm trees on the surfaces of the supports and on the panels, in every available space, with wreaths all around. 37 This is the way he made the ten stands. They were all cast in the same molds and were identical in size and shape.
38 He then made ten bronze basins, each holding forty baths and measuring four cubits across, one basin to go on each of the ten stands. 39 He placed five of the stands on the south side of the temple and five on the north. He placed the Sea on the south side, at the southeast corner of the temple. 40 He also made the pots and shovels and sprinkling bowls.
So Huram finished all the work he had undertaken for King Solomon in the temple of the Lord:
41 the two pillars;
the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
the two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
42 the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars);
43 the ten stands with their ten basins;
44 the Sea and the twelve bulls under it;
45 the pots, shovels and sprinkling bowls.
All these objects that Huram made for King Solomon for the temple of the Lord were of burnished bronze. 46 The king had them cast in clay molds in the plain of the Jordan between Sukkoth and Zarethan. 47 Solomon left all these things unweighed, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined.
48 Solomon also made all the furnishings that were in the Lord’s temple:
the golden altar;
the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence;
49 the lampstands of pure gold (five on the right and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary);
the gold floral work and lamps and tongs;
50 the pure gold basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and censers;
and the gold sockets for the doors of the innermost room, the Most Holy Place, and also for the doors of the main hall of the temple.
51 When all the work King Solomon had done for the temple of the Lord was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated—the silver and gold and the furnishings—and he placed them in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple.
How the gold has lost its luster, the fine gold become dull! The sacred gems are scattered at every street corner.
How the precious children of Zion, once worth their weight in gold, are now considered as pots of clay, the work of a potter’s hands!
Even jackals offer their breasts to nurse their young, but my people have become heartless like ostriches in the desert.
Because of thirst the infant’s tongue sticks to the roof of its mouth; the children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them.
Those who once ate delicacies are destitute in the streets. Those brought up in royal purple now lie on ash heaps.
The punishment of my people is greater than that of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment without a hand turned to help her.
Their princes were brighter than snow and whiter than milk, their bodies more ruddy than rubies, their appearance like lapis lazuli.
But now they are blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets. Their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as a stick.
Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food from the field.
With their own hands compassionate women have cooked their own children, who became their food when my people were destroyed.
The Lord has given full vent to his wrath; he has poured out his fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion that consumed her foundations.
The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the peoples of the world, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem.
But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed within her the blood of the righteous.
Now they grope through the streets as if they were blind. They are so defiled with blood that no one dares to touch their garments.
“Go away! You are unclean!” people cry to them. “Away! Away! Don’t touch us!” When they flee and wander about, people among the nations say, “They can stay here no longer.”
The Lord himself has scattered them; he no longer watches over them. The priests are shown no honor, the elders no favor.
Moreover, our eyes failed, looking in vain for help; from our towers we watched for a nation that could not save us.
People stalked us at every step, so we could not walk in our streets. Our end was near, our days were numbered, for our end had come.
Our pursuers were swifter than eagles in the sky; they chased us over the mountains and lay in wait for us in the desert.
The Lord’s anointed, our very life breath, was caught in their traps. We thought that under his shadow we would live among the nations.
Rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom, you who live in the land of Uz. But to you also the cup will be passed; you will be drunk and stripped naked.
Your punishment will end, Daughter Zion; he will not prolong your exile. But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom, and expose your wickedness.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved?
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people.
Your sacred cities have become a wasteland; even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation.
Our holy and glorious temple, where our ancestors praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins.
After all this, Lord, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?
Judgment and Salvation
“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick;
who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of impure meat;
who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me, for I am too sacred for you!’ Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day.
“See, it stands written before me: I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps—
both your sins and the sins of your ancestors,” says the Lord. “Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills, I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds.”
8 This is what the Lord says:
“As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it, there is still a blessing in it,’ so will I do in behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all.
I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah those who will possess my mountains; my chosen people will inherit them, and there will my servants live.
Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me.
“But as for you who forsake the Lord and forget my holy mountain, who spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,
I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will fall in the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.”
13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“My servants will eat, but you will go hungry; my servants will drink, but you will go thirsty; my servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame.
My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit.
You will leave your name for my chosen ones to use in their curses; the Sovereign Lord will put you to death, but to his servants he will give another name.
Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the one true God; whoever takes an oath in the land will swear by the one true God. For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.
New Heavens and a New Earth
“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
“Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.
They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.
They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.
- C. S. Lewis
- Proverbs 20:5