GETTING THE MESSAGE/The Lord is our helper

GETTING THE MESSAGE/The Lord is our helper

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It is a wonderful thing to know that you have divine assistance in your life. We are subject to many peculiar infirmities, both of body and soul, to bear up under. Those who belong to Christ have an advantage not possessed by those who live in unbelief; nevertheless, the Christian is particularly beset by spiritual warfare in his pilgrimage through the world. 

Isaiah’s message in this passage is that the Lord will be the help of his people:  “Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”

It is not very flattering to be compared to a worm, but the Lord is speaking to his people as they consider the opposition they face along with the tasks they have been given to do by the Lord; the feeling of inadequacy lies heavy upon them . Their own sins weigh upon them too, so that they often feel despondent and unfit to walk the path the Lord has laid out for them.

The Lord doesn’t deny their inability or their sinfulness, but instead he says that he will be their help and that he is their Redeemer. A redeemer in Israel was the next of kin relative who had the right to take upon himself his relative’s need in order to supply what was lacking. If he was willing, the redeemer had the right to deliver his relative from enslavement by taking his debts as his own, releasing his relative from the obligation to pay that which he was unable to pay on his own.

Psalm 22 prophesies that the Messiah will bear the dreadful curse that sin deserves. In verse 6 we read, “I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.” The psalm began with the familiar cry of Jesus on the cross before he died: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” It was written by David but inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Christ is our Redeemer, our next of kin who took upon himself our debt and who promises to supply our needs. If you have a relative like Christ, you need not fear what you are lacking. I once spoke to an elderly lady who recounted how her husband unexpectedly lost his job during the depression. They were forced to move immediately. They had no assets and very little money. I asked her if she was afraid at the time and she emphatically responded, “No, I had a father and mother who were still alive.”

The lady knew her father would help if she needed it. How could she forget such a father? Those in Christ are never to forget Christ. Cicero once wrote of the decay of memory as men age, but said he never heard of a miser forgetting the place where he had buried his treasure. What the mind prizes most is longest retained in the memory.

All the fruitfulness of the Christian proceeds from the foundation of knowing Christ and his giving of himself for you. In verse 15, the Lord says he will make his people like a threshing sledge that can thresh mountains.  A threshing sledge was a wooden platform with metal teeth underneath to cut up grain. To reduce a mountain to nothing would be a considerable achievement.

The point is that the Lord will be the strength of his people. When you read through the book of Acts, you see the great obstacles the apostles faced, the progress of the gospel despite those obstacles, the conversion of self-righteous Jews and pagan Gentiles, and the sufferings men under went for the name of Christ; all demonstrate that the power of God was behind it. And the same Spirit of power is promised to us. 

God promises to give strength as we need it: “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them: I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights and fountains in the midst of the valleys” (verses 17-18). When the believer is called to severe trials or difficult duties, he commonly receives aid proportioned to the urgency of his needs, and he is surprised to find himself held up by a power not his own.

So this passage is reminder to pray and ask for what you need. An old poem read: “For Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.”

The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.





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