“Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it, but one does not use horses to grind grain. All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent.”
Isaiah 28:27-29 (NIV)
A few weeks ago Shirley and I had our children and grandchildren around for a special family day. We decided to do a Moroccan meal. The recipes called for a lot of spices, notably cumin, which is referenced in the above scripture.
What was Isaiah talking about? The caraway (other translations say dill), the cumin (an obscure Hebrew word but if you consider the context it’s probably cumin), grain (the reference is to spelt wheat and barley). He explains that you don’t use horses to grind grain – similar to the idea that you don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut. And you don’t thresh grain forever – when it’s ready, why continue threshing? And with the delicate herbs you don’t use what you might have used for heavy grains. Be gentle with the herbs: give them special treatment.
In this passage God is compared to the farmer. Just as the farmer takes into account the resilience of each individual crop before he treats it, so God considers us individually and uniquely. We have all received the unmerited grace of Christ, and God continues to nurture each of us, giving us special treatment based on who we are and how we are. Isaiah praises God – this illustrates God’s wisdom and purpose.
In our fair-minded society we may be tempted to treat everyone the same, irrespective of their differences. After all, that makes life easier for us, does it not? That way we don’t have to remember that people are different! At our Moroccan meal we had to remember differences, offering gluten-free, diabetic, lacto-lite, low alcohol, and mild or hot spicy options! Why did we not just give them toast and jam? Would that have been wheat-free toast for some and sugar-reduced jam for others?
Isn’t God great? He remembers every nook and cranny of our being, and takes it all into account! He gives us special treatment, no matter what’s going on. That was Isaiah’s message. Maybe we could apply it to our relationships.
Father, thank you for your grace towards each one of us, and that you treat us specially according to who we are in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name.
Study by James Henderson
About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. This weekend James is speaking in our Camberwell and London churches. You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.