“Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel. I will help you” – this is the LORD’s declaration. Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. See, I will make you into a sharp threshing board, new, with many teeth. You will thresh mountains and pulverize them and make hills into chaff. You will winnow them and a wind will carry them away, a whirlwind will scatter them. But you will rejoice in the LORD; you will boast in the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41.14-16).
The terms ‘Jacob’ and ‘worm’ point up the weakness and vulnerability of Israel. God assures His people of help for a third time in the chapter. He will redeem Israel by providing and caring for her. He will also make her a special threshing board. A threshing board that will cut, grind, and pulverize mountains and hills to a fine powder so that they are carried away by the wind.
I am as a worm too. I am insufficient and incapable of doing anything worthwhile outside of Christ. Jesus said that if I abide in Him, I will bear much fruit but without Him I can do nothing (John 15.5). “How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12.34). God must work in me so that I may desire and do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2.13). Apart from God’s grace, I would yet be dead in my trespasses and sins. I would be unable to alter the downward spiral of my life …unable to change for the good or reform my character.
However, I must thresh mountains and turn them into powder even as Israel. I face mountains that must be removed for me to make progress in my life with Christ. The pleasures of this world, the habits of this life deeply engrained, temptations to compromise through family and friends, the pushing and pulling of the flesh, affections that must be put to death, Satanic attack, and so much more are mountains to be threshed. It is an impossible task. I am wholly insufficient for it.
God will keep His promises. Israel shall prevail over the nations. Even so, I am more than a conqueror through Christ who loves me so. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – [my] faith” (1 John 5.4). If I live according to the flesh I will die; but if by the Spirit I put to death the deeds of the body, I will live (Romans 8.13). “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5.24). I must submit to God. I must resist the devil and he will flee from me (James 4.7). My strength comes only as the word of God abides in me. This is how I overcome the wicked one (1 John 2.14). The new birth brings to me a new nature that does not sin. As I am strengthened in my new nature, I do not sin or choose evil. Instead, I keep myself, and the wicked one does not touch me (1 John 5.18). Of course, I experience this to a much smaller degree than when I am finally and forever rescued from the presence of sin in Heaven above. Still, as I rely on the promises of God, I am enabled by Him to cleanse myself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. I am enabled to perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7.1). My small feeble faith in the omnipotence of God turns mountains into dust. I rejoice in the LORD. I boast in the Holy One of Israel. Jesus alone is the author and finisher of my faith. Thanks be to God who gives me the victory through my Lord Jesus Christ!
My weakness is often cause for discouragement or fear. But nothing prevents the flow of God’s mercy and grace through me. I am weak, but He is strong. He will perfect His strength in my worm-like weakness. So, I am not discouraged or fearful because of my weakness. Instead, I rejoice and glory in it because the power of Christ may rest upon me. God shall be glorified in me. Today, I will thresh mountains. I shall not be passive. I still must obey the Great Commands of my Lord Jesus Christ. I must choose to understand what is right, to be right, and to do right. I must run the race set before me. I must fight my fight and endure until the end to receive the crown of glory reserved for me. This means that I must not succumb to discouragement or laziness. I must go forward in the strength of the Lord Jesus. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4.13). I can even thresh mountains