by Phil Enlow

This article is from a transcript of a message preached at the Bible Tabernacle on February 11, 2007.

Turn, if you will, to Isaiah chapter 41. Praise God! Jesus is a beautiful name, isn’t it?

That’s because it means savior, rescuer, deliverer, and that’s what we need. That’s what I need. Praise God! Well, Isaiah was a prophet who prophesied a couple hundred years…a hundred years…I don’t know the exact time…prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the judgment of Israel. It was a difficult time.

The kingdom of Israel had had a great zenith of power under David. David was a man anointed of God to rally the whole nation and to become the king and they conquered much territory and he brought the people together…established a worship of God and handed the kingdom off to his son Solomon. And during Solomon’s early years they built the temple and there was the greatest zenith of power in Israel’s history occurred then. They had more territory under their control, and far more than Israel does today. It was quite a time.

But then we know that the nation went into decline. In Solomon’s later years, his heart began to wander and there was a spiritual weakness. The lusts of the flesh and various things began to crowd in, and he just wasn’t as diligent as he should have been about killing out idolatry and standing against it. In fact, he had wives that brought their idols into his kingdom, and he helped them set them up and all of that.

So when Solomon died, they had a fight among the sons and the kingdom was split. And part of it, the Northern Kingdom went up and set up a capital in Samaria and they continued to use the name Israel but they never, ever, ever had a righteous king. They were always just a…virtually a heathen nation for all practical purposes. There were prophets who were sent to them, and they were persecuted and killed. But there was never a king in the nation of Israel, that particular nation of Israel that ever served God. And so we see them just being judged of God and dispersed among the nations.

But the smaller kingdom, Judah, continued for a time in Jerusalem and that was their capital. Their history generally was downhill with a few little kings who tried to reform things and tried to do away with heathen places of idolatry. But generally it was a downhill run.

But you know, we know from the scriptures that God always, always throughout the history of Israel He had a faithful remnant of people that were faithful, true sons and daughters of Abraham. The nation as a whole was descended from Abraham in the physical sense. But we know from the New Testament that isn’t what God really considered His people. What God did, He did for the sake of those that He had preserved.

And we remember the time of Elijah and how bad things had gotten. And boy, he got so discouraged one time…you ever get discouraged? Elijah got so discouraged, right after a big victory, too. I mean, there he was facing off against the prophets of Baal, and God just brought a tremendous victory. How would like to be able to bring fire down from Heaven and burn up an altar that you just dowsed with water, and then stand there and see the prophets of Baal defeated and slaughtered before you? Then the queen said, I’m gonna kill you tomorrow. I’m gonna do to you by tomorrow, what you did to the prophets of Baal and he took off running. He was a human, wasn’t he? He was very human in his feelings.

But he got away to the…back to the mountain, to Mt. Sinai actually, and was crying out to God and moaning. Nobody ever complains and just says, oh God, what’s going on here? What’s wrong? But he did. And anyway, he was saying, Lord, I’m the only one left. You might as well go kill me, take my life. There’s no purpose in living. Things are so bad. Let’s just be done with it. I’m done.

And the Lord just ignored him, and said, I want you to go here and do this, and I want you to go there and do that, and I want you to go someplace else and do something else. Go anoint such-and-such a king and this, and that, and the other. And said, oh, by the way—He didn’t put the word ‘by the way’ in there, but it’s—I mean it’s like, He told him what to do and then He comes right back and said, I have reserved for me 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

And so God had preserved a remnant. And I’ll tell you, that’s who Isaiah was prophesying to, because if you read the history…how many of you have that little book that shows the diagrams, the history of the Old Testament? That’s really interesting, isn’t it? It kind of gives you the sense of the context of what was going on and when.

But anyway, we know from the history that things went downhill, and there was a terrible judgment when Nebuchadnezzar was allowed to come in and to destroy the city. And he carried away the captives, and he came back three different times ‘cause they were so rebellious before he finally said, pull the wall down…pull the temple down. Let’s be done with this. Scatter ‘em. Carry ‘em off to Babylon. We’re gonna leave a few people here to farm the land, what’s left of it, but basically we want to be done with these rebellious people.

But you know even then we see a faithful remnant, don’t we? Because in the midst of all of that we have Daniel, and we have Shadrach and we have Meshach and Abednego, and we have Ezekiel who was a prophet among the exiles, and many others. And later on, the Lord restored ‘em. And there was a degree of restoration and other people were part of that faithful remnant.

But you know, I believe that the prophecies that begin in chapter 40 of Isaiah and go through the end are great prophesies of the future, but I believe they are looking way past all of that Old Testament history. I believe they’re looking to the time of Christ. We see over and over how that God was going to send His righteous servant. And we see in chapter 53 that He was going to be put to death for our sins and our transgressions, and we know that’s referring to our Lord Jesus Christ.

But over and over again you will also find references to the Word of God going out to the Gentiles. And we know that God’s ultimate purpose was through this faithful Jewish remnant to bring forth a Word of hope that reaches to us today. And I believe that the words here are really applicable just as much to us as they were to any of Abraham’s physical descendants because God does not reckon His people by physical descent from Abraham. He reckons it from those who follow the faith of Abraham.

And we are children of Abraham as much as anybody else was, if we are believers in Jesus Christ. Because Abraham, Romans 4, I believe, it tells us is, “…the father of all them that believe” (KJV), not the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. And so, there are words of comfort and encouragement in a time which must have been a great time of distress for God’s people.

Think about what it would have been like to live. I mean we saw a mighty man of God like Elijah just come to the point where he said, I’m done, Lord. Take my life. It was a discouraging time. They looked at every hand and they saw idolatry. They saw their neighbors, and they’re going out and worshipping gods. They saw neighbors who were carrying out their firstborn children and sacrificing them to a heathen god. I mean there were things that would cause you great discouragement. You think of the promises of God and then you think of what you’re seeing…and wicked kings and wicked queens like Athaliah would come along and just absolutely…the epitome of wickedness. And, it would have been a difficult time but these were words sent from God to encourage that remnant.

Listen to verse 8. “But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend….” (NIV). Praise God! Isn’t that a wonderful thing to think that’s what God desires from us? Yes, He’s a great and a magnificent…and a God that we can hardly comprehend His greatness and His power. But yet there is a desire in His heart that we should not just be little puppets on strings. We should be His friend.

I believe that’s what God is doing in our lives. He’s wanting us to grow up in our understanding. We are called to be sons and daughters of the living God. And while we act like children most of the time, God’s intent is that we grow up. You know even in a human sense, you have little children and the relationship as parent and child, and you basically are responsible to tell them what to do. And they don’t have a whole lot of responsibility. At least they’re attempting to learn or you’re attempting to teach them.

But you know there comes a time when they grow up, when the relationship changes, doesn’t it? Or it should. And suddenly you can begin to have an adult relationship with your child. I’ll tell you, God desires to have that kind of a relationship with us. And the things that are happening in our lives are designed to bring us to that. Praise God! It makes it a whole lot easier to bear, doesn’t it?

He talks about, “…Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, you are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.” Okay, on the basis of that pronouncement, this is God’s doing, not ours, is what he’s saying. You weren’t looking for me. I had a plan and I called you to myself and I declared, you’re mine. “So…” on the basis of that, “…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.” Praise God! What a promise!

That no matter how things look in our lives, no matter how things look in the world, we have a God who has called us to Himself, and we will not stand because we are strong, we will stand because He is strong who promised, and He is faithful who promised.

Praise God! What a promise to His people! “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.”

Praise God! You know this has to be looking way past what they were talking about…in the history that they were having to deal with because we see that they were in fact defeated by their enemies. The nation was. But you know something? God was faithful even in that, wasn’t He, to preserve His people?

He never left ‘em. Even there in Babylon, He was with ‘em. He sent ‘em prophets to encourage and to explain what was going on, and to give ‘em a hope. But I’ll tell you, the hope that we have is not one that relates to this world. We’re not called to take over the world. And I don’t think there’s anybody here that really believes that. But there are people…there are teachers in our world today who believe that Christians’ destiny is to rise up, and take over the world, and just transform this world into the kingdom of God.

But I’ll tell you, it’s not gonna happen. God has called us to stand for Him regardless of what happens here, and to put our hope beyond this world in Him. And I’ll tell you, we have a hope that will never, ever pass away, because it’s a hope that has been given to us by an almighty God!

Praise God! So even though things around us, even though the world, as we say, is going “to hell in a hand basket,” God has given us a hope. Praise God! We look at our lives sometimes…or often, and feel like, oh my God, I don’t have control of anything, do I? Well, you know it’s an illusion if we think we have any measure of control. We’re just…we live as though something’s supposed to be that isn’t. Let me go on here because there’s a phrase that I want to get to.

In verse 14 it says, “Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you, declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Now, praise God! Isn’t that an interesting way to picture? Here, you’re my people. I’ve called you from the ends of the earth. You have this great destiny, “you little worm.”

But you know I believe God is communicating something to us that we need to understand. You know it’s hard for us to picture anything more helpless than a worm. What kind of a defense does a worm have? If it gets out in the open, all you have to do is just step on it and squish it…or a robin comes along and picks it up, and you’re not even safe if you’re down under the ground. The robin will cock his ear and listen to you crawling around, and first thing you know, he’ll pull you out. They’re basically a pretty helpless creature. They can’t bite you. Actually there’s one kind that can. Has anybody ever seen a worm snake?

Most of you…nobody here has seen one? You’ve seen one, haven’t you, Robert? You’ve heard of ‘em anyway.

No. I saw one. In fact, it was behind your house years ago.

It looks exactly like a worm, and you pull it out. It has a backbone and it has a mouth on one end. It’s called a worm snake. It’s very rare, very hard to find because they hide. But I’ll tell you, most worms aren’t like that. They don’t bite. All they can do is lay there and be squished, and they’re weak. But you know the truth of the matter is, that’s a pretty good picture of what we are without the Lord. We’re not so strong, and so smart, and so able as we think we are. If it were not for the grace of an almighty God, every one of us would be crushed in this world.

We’re not strong enough for the devil and the forces of darkness that are ruling in this present evil world. We’re not wise enough to outsmart him. All he does is dangle the dainties of this world in front of us and let us outsmart ourselves. But I’ll tell you, God’s people…it’ll do us well if we realize that this is exactly what we are, that we are that needy and that dependent upon God, and get off our high horse and say, “Lord, I am what you say I am.”

Remember the old hymn, “Alas, and did my Savior bleed? And did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?” You know there’s actually churches out there that have changed the words. They say “for such a one as I.” They don’t like to say worm. But I’ll tell you, unless we have seen our limitations and what we are before a holy God, I don’t think we’ve got the picture. Praise God!

God did not call them worms because He was trying to just grind them into the ground, and say, you’re insignificant, you’re nothing, I don’t care about you. It was not meant to be a put-down. It was meant to be a statement of fact.

We simply do not have control, folks. We need a great and a mighty God. There are things that happen in our lives, and we wonder, why did that happen, what’s going on here? I believe God has to remind us many times that we are what He says we are, that we need Him!

And I’ll tell you, if you’re feeling your weakness in your life because of things that are happening, it’s God’s mercy, it’s not His anger towards you. It’s that He would turn you and me toward Him! He wants our hearts turned to Him that He might make us strong, that He might help us. And He stands ready and willing. That’s the whole point of this passage.

That’s why God saw fit to cause men centuries ago—2500 years ago at least, more than that—to write down these words, to hear them from God, to write them down, have them preserved. Don’t you think the devil would loved to have blotted out this Word and caused it not to be transmitted to us today?

We have a God who preserved His Word.

And He has said, He exalts His Word above His name!

There’s not a word that’s written in this book that God will not fulfill. That doesn’t mean you and I understand it all, ‘cause I don’t. Maybe you do, you can explain it to me. But I’ll tell you what, there’s a God who understands every little stroke of the pen in this book and He knows how to fulfill what He has said. There isn’t devil in hell that can stop it. That’s why I put my hope in Him!

I praise Him this morning ‘cause He is my help!

He’s my hope. I believe His words. You know if you exist and you realize, Lord, I’m a worm. I look at me, I’m looking around, the world around me is wicked. People don’t care about God. I see the way the world’s going…I mean the parallel is obvious…should be obvious to us. Just as the nation of Israel was headed downhill towards a terrible destruction, so is our world headed in the same direction. God has called us to stand in this hour and to be a light. Does anybody feel strong enough to do that in yourself? No! We are not. We are worms in terms of our strength. In the grand scheme of thing, that’s all we are. Now we may puff out our chest and be offended at that, but I tell you it’s the truth—it’s the truth.

And I’ll tell you, coming to a place where we enter into what God has declared here, it would behoove us to recognize what we are, and to say, thank You, Lord, that though I am a worm, I’m Your worm, Lord. I’m willing to trust in You, and I know that what’s gonna happen is gonna happen because of Your promise and not because of who I am or any ability in me! That takes it out of my hands. My job is to believe Him, to trust in Him, to stand firm and say, Lord, regardless of what happens, regardless of what anybody else does, I believe in You.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary. Praise God! Though the world is gonna come to an end and all these things are gonna happen on the earth, I believe in You. I believe there’s a rock that You have placed under my feet that will stand when the world is gone! I’ll tell you, has God birthed that confidence in your heart? That’s what He desires to give everyone of His children. He wants you to have a personal confidence that this applies to you, though you may feel like a worm at times.

Oh, I’ll tell you what, praise God, but that’s why the Lord says, do not be afraid. Oh, we are bedeviled by fears in our lives, fear of what’s gonna happen, fear of what might happen…most of the time it never will. ‘Course I know nobody here ever experiences that! But I’ll tell you…we live so often…the sense of our own inability to control things causes us just to be terrified of all kinds of things, and the devil is quick to pour fuel on the fire, isn’t he?

And we read the promises of God and we look…where do we look now? Where does the devil focus your attention? On us…saying, you’ll never be that, who are you kidding? You’ll never…these promises don’t apply to you. Look at all that’s wrong with you, look at how weak you are, you can never do that. And he tells us all kinds of things that would cause us to be afraid, and to shrink back, and to just all the time be in a state of anxiety about things. But I’ll tell you, God says, don’t be afraid.

Praise God! I believe if God says, don’t be afraid, and He says it throughout the scriptures, I believe He means for us to not be afraid! Obviously I cannot avoid fear based upon some kind of trumped-up self-confidence. God knows how to undercut you if you are full of self-confidence, and you think you can do something by yourself. Sometimes we have to fall in the mud because that’s exactly the kind of a spirit that we’re moving in.

And God is faithful enough to cause us to fall flat in the mud, until we say, oh Lord, forgive me. I was trying to do it myself. I was careless. I thought I had it made. I thought I had gotten to that plateau where all that was behind me, and I could just kind of coast along because I had it made. And the Lord says, you didn’t get there because you were strong, you got there because I was faithful.

Because you put your hope in me, that’s why you were able to reach a place where you sensed a certain amount of victory. But you were taking credit for something that I did. You were standing in your own strength. You forgot what I said about not being over-confident, but knowing that I’m able to give grace in all types of things. But, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth…” do what?

“…Take heed lest he fall.” (KJV). Praise God! That’s the problem. We think we’re standing, we think we’re something, and we’re not. But oh, I’ll tell you, God’s Word to you this morning…if you’re afraid of anything in your life, if there’s anything that’s assaulting your mind and causing you right now to be afraid, God’s Word to you is, don’t fear, even though you are a worm…even though you are helpless in the face of everything that is going on in this world in your life, because He says, “O little Israel….” (NIV). It kind of reminds me of what Jesus said…talks about the kingdom. Praise God! Somebody help me with the words.

“Fear not, little flock….”(KJV). Thank you. Fear not…little flock. Why? Why did He say that? “…It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Praise God, that’s by grace. I don’t deserve the kingdom, do you?

Has anybody here done anything to deserve a kingdom? But we’ve got an almighty Father in heaven, and it’s His pleasure to give the kingdom. Praise God! What do we do? We come, we fall at His feet, we believe in Him, we put our lives in His hands and our trust and hope in Him. Then we have no reason to fear because we can always look up and know that He’s on the throne. Praise God!

We need to remind ourselves constantly because the way we walk in this world is by faith, we don’t see all these things that He’s promised most of the time. It doesn’t look like we’re strong. It doesn’t look like He’s faithful sometimes. He allows things to happen in our lives and we say, why, Lord, what happened here, what’s going on?

But I’ll tell you, we have a God whose promise is faithful. He says, “…Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come….” “…Ye have need of patience….” He says, in Hebrews 10, I believe it is. “…Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Praise God!

I pray that God will give me the strength today to be patient in the face of whatever is happening in my life because there’s plenty. I’m just like you. There are things that make me afraid. There are things that cause me to feel weak. There are things that pull on me from many directions just like you. We’re all in the same boat. But I’ll tell you, we have somebody who says, “Do not be afraid…worm….” (NIV). You may be a worm, but you don’t have to be afraid because I’m with you!

I will help you! Praise God! “…O little Israel, for I myself will help you, declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” And He says this, “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge…”—”…A new sharp threshing instrument…” I think it says in the King James, “…new and sharp, with many teeth….”

You know I talked about worms not having teeth…God’s gonna put some teeth in our mouth. Now you think about a transformation from a worm to a sharp threshing instrument to a big old sledge, an instrument whereby you go out and harvest something…and it has good sharp teeth! That’s a transformation!

There’s a picture of God taking nothing and making something out of it. God in his plan in the earth has not determined to go out and call the high and the mighty and the strong, has He? He’s determined to call those that are nothing, those that are weak, those that are nothing in the eyes of the world, and He’s gonna use them to bring to nothing all the things that are.

I’ll tell you what, God is so faithful. I believe His Word to me, I believe His Word to all of us this morning is that He is faithful who promised, and though you feel as weak as you ever have, and though you can’t see how in the world God could ever fulfill His promises to us, He is absolutely faithful.

Praise God! You know I commented a while ago about people who are actually teaching that our destiny is to take over the world, and they’ve got these grandiose spiritual ideas about how they’re gonna rise up in this great realm of faith and go out and just empty the cemeteries…go through the hospitals and just get everybody out of there, put the doctors all out of business, and take over the world.

I’ll tell you, we need to understand what God’s purpose is though. Our purpose is not to transform this world, our purpose is to fulfill the great commission that God has given to us, and to grow up into Him, and to be ready for the Kingdom of God which is eternal and which is to come. How many times do you look out in the world, even in the religious world, you say, well, who are we? We’re nothing. We’re just a small ragtag bunch of people in Moore County, North Carolina, no place special. You look at all the greatness of the needs in the earth. You look at all the great organizations that there are out there, doing all these great grandiose things. Who are we? But I’ll tell you what, if we, though we be worms, will put ourselves in God’s hands, God will fulfill His vision and His purpose for our lives and this church.

And I pray that God will help me to have enough of a vision and enough of a confidence toward Him that I will be able to look past what I am and to see God, you are able to do everything that is needed in me. The whole point of salvation is that I cannot do these things.

That’s the point! That’s why we need someone named Jesus! “Jesus” means savior! I don’t need someone to give me a lecture on how I’m supposed to live and then say, okay, go for it. Make yourself strong, gear yourself up. I need someone who says, I’m able to save you though you cannot do all these things. I’m gonna put a new life in you. I’m gonna change you. I’m gonna do it, that’s the whole point!

Now how do they become this threshing sledge, new and sharp with many teeth? It says, I will make you—I will make you! So what’s going on in your life today? Are you in a position where you can say, oh God, I cannot do anything, I feel like I’m such a failure. Every way I turn I find myself in a state of failure and thinking, oh my God, this is impossible. But oh God, help me to lift my eyes to You, and to praise You, and to believe Your promises, and to remember that You are the one who has promised to make me what You want me to be.

Praise God! The song we sing, “He is Able.” He is able! That’s the whole message of the gospel. That’s why He can say, “Do not be afraid, O worm, Jacob, O little Israel….” Don’t be afraid. “…For I myself will help you, declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel.”

You know the hills were symbolic of nations, of peoples, of power and elevated places in the earth, in a sense. It wasn’t just literal hills like you think of. These were men and groups of men and nations of men who were lifted up in their own eyes and ruled over others. So the Lord is using that kind of language that they would have understood. But that’s not the kind of nations that God has called us to conquer. There is a spiritual warfare that is going on in the earth today. There is a harvest that’s being gathered. I believe God has called us for such an hour as this to participate in that.

I see storms coming upon this world. I see all kinds of things coming. And my prayer is, oh God, You know all about it, You know what we are! You know that we don’t have what it takes to be Your people in such an hour. But God help us! God do in us what’s necessary that we might be able to stand strong. I’ll tell you, we live in an hour when we need to have Christ…present tense. We cannot walk in tradition. We cannot walk in any thing except the living presence of Christ.

I’m a worm, I don’t deserve this. I don’t have any strength to draw upon. I have nothing but Him and that’s all we need.

I’ll tell you, we need to cry out to Him in all these little things in our life that cause us to be afraid. And say, oh God, You told me not to be afraid. I trust in You. I don’t see the way…how in the world You’re gonna do what You say You’re gonna do, but I believe You. Everything in the world militates against what I see, what I’m supposed to be doing in this world…standing true to You in a world that’s going the other way. But God, give me the strength on the inside. Help me to be a strength to others that are around me, help me to be a light in this world. God has called His people to be a light, and I believe we can be.

I’m confident we can be, not because of who we are, but because of who He is.

So you think you’re not strong, I’ll tell you God can bring strength through you that you have no idea because it’s not your strength. So I’ll tell you, we need to put our lives in God’s hands today, and trust Him, and believe Him, and understand the hour in which we live, and not get so buried in the minutia of our little lives that we lose track of what’s going on. God, open our eyes and help us.

Though we are a worm like Jacob, God is able to make us into something that can thresh mountains in the spirit. I don’t know what that means. I’m not a triumphalist, like I say, that we’re gonna take over the world, but I’ll tell you, we can do what God has called us to do. And we can do it, not because of us, but because of Him. I praise Him this morning, don’t you?

“Fear not, you worm”—that’s a good title. That’ll get somebody’s attention. Fear not, you worm. Praise the Lord. Well, I’m glad to be that kind of a worm, because I have a God who is able. He is able! Praise God!

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