Hands down, the book of Isaiah has to be my favorite book, of all the books in the bible! Don’t you just love this book?
I don’t know, maybe we love it because of the Messianic theme throughout or it could be that the social ills of the time are addressed. Although it is not a book on social reform per se, but speaks of abuses as symptoms of spiritual declension, I think mostly, the love for this book is due to the word pictures that are so vividly drawn. Isaiah is filled with stories and parables, which are not unlike Christ’s parables. We love to hear stories about things we know about. Even as wee babes, we are fascinated by stories of common, everyday things. I remember as a young parent, tired and exasperated by the end of the day, if I could tell a story to my children, I could calm and quiet the most rambunctious spirit for about twenty or thirty minutes, which of course revitalized my own reserve. We love stories.
In the book, there are such great pictures…
Of love, God speaks…
“Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine.
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you”
(Isaiah 43: 1-2).
Of Gods sovereign control…
“Look up at the sky! Who created the stars you see? The one who leads them out like an army, he knows how many there are and calls each one by name! His power is so great— not one of them is ever missing! Israel, why then do you complain that the LORD doesn’t know your troubles or care if you suffer injustice? Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The LORD is the everlasting God; he created all the world. He never grows tired or weary. No one understands his thoughts”
(Isaiah 40: 26-28).
Of Messiah …
“The Sovereign LORD has filled me with his Spirit. He has chosen me and sent me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to announce release to captives and freedom to those in prison. He has sent me to proclaim that the time has come when the LORD will save his people and defeat their enemies. He has sent me to comfort all who mourn, to give to those who mourn in Zion Joy and gladness instead of grief, A song of praise instead of sorrow. They will be like trees that the LORD himself has planted. They will all do what is right, And God will be praised for what he has done”
(Isaiah 61: 1-3).
“I am the LORD who created you; from the time you were born, I have helped you. Do not be afraid; you are my servant, my chosen people whom I love. “I will give water to the thirsty land and make streams flow on the dry ground. I will pour out my spirit on your children and my blessing on your descendants. They will thrive like well-watered grass, like willows by streams of running water. “One by one, people will say, ‘I am the LORD’s.’ They will come to join the people of Israel. They each will mark the name of the LORD on their arms and call themselves one of God’s people.” The LORD, who rules and protects Israel, the LORD Almighty, has this to say: “I am the first, the last, the only God; there is no other god but me” (Isaiah 44: 2-6).
When I read Isaiah 28: 23-29, I smile.
Open your ears, and listen to me! Pay attention, and hear me! Does a farmer go on plowing every day so he can plant? Does he continue to break up the soil and make furrows in the ground? When he has smoothed its surface, doesn’t he scatter black cumin seed and plant cumin? Doesn’t he plant wild wheat in rows? Doesn’t he put barley in its own area and winter wheat at its borders? God will guide him in judgment, and his God will teach him. Black cumin isn’t threshed with a sledge, and wagon wheels aren’t rolled over cumin. Black cumin is beaten with a rod and cumin with a stick. Grain is ground into flour, but the grinding eventually stops. It will be threshed. The wheels of his cart will roll over it, but his horses won’t crush it. All of this has come from the LORD of Armies. His counsel is wonderful, and his wisdom is great. (Isaiah 28: 23-29)
This passage is about discipline. God disciplines his children and here we see a glimpse of the heart of God. What is the heart of God? His heart is mercy. God knows how to discipline us. In this story, we are the produce, the grain. Sometimes we are kernels of barley. Other times we are cumin. And in rare occasions we are wheat and barley. God knows how to do His “strange work” Isaiah 28: 21. For some grain, He beats out with a flail. Other grain is beaten with a small rod. Still others are beaten with a club or crushed with a cart to make bread. And yet, in this beautiful allegory we are promised that God will not destroy. He like the farmer is wise and will extract the best produce for His kingdom. God is faithful. God is merciful. God is love.
If perhaps you are like me and find yourself in the midst of a threshing, don’t despair. The threshing will not last forever. Hear His voice and listen to His words of grace.