Formation: God’s Hands Upon Us, Or Our Hands On Idols



















Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, and more specifically, is found in the forty-fourth chapter. When you begin reading this chapter, you will immediately notice a common theme that seems to surround the first several chapters which are found in the second half of the prophetic book of Isaiah. It is when you come to the fortieth chapter in the prophetic book of Isaiah that you notice a shift and transition in the language, for you begin to discover the Lord speaking to Jacob, yet speaking to Jacob in tender terms of endearment and affection. The language we read in this particular section of the prophetic book of Isaiah is such that is both affirming and affectionate toward Jacob. Consider how this passage of Scripture begins—“Year now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen.” It’s important to understand that when speaking to His chosen people, the Lord doesn’t merely speak to “Jacob,” but He also speaks to and addresses “Israel.” This is rather intriguing and significant, for by speaking both to “Jacob” and “Israel,” it’s as if the Lord is speaking both to the former reality of His chosen people, as well as the current and present reality. When speaking to His chosen people as “Jacob,” He is speaking to the former nature and reality of His chosen people and chosen servant. I absolutely love the words of this passage, for the Lord speaks of Jacob as His servant, but also Israel as the one whom He has chosen. I can’t help but find this to be absolutely astonishing, for it’s as if the Lord is not only speaking to Israel’s past as “Jacob,” but also Israel’s present as His chosen nation, His chosen people, His chosen kingdom within the earth. The language of the Lord in this passage of Scripture reveals the incredibly powerful reality that the Lord not only chose the former nature of His people—the former being “Jacob”—but also the present and future nature of His people as “Israel.” It’s as if through these words the Lord is emphatically declaring that He was redeeming both their past, as well as their present. By speaking to and addressing His chosen people by both their former name and nature, as well as their current and future nature, the Lord is declaring and speaking of His purposes both in their past, as well as their present. How absolutely wonderful it is to think that the Lord still referenced Jacob as His servant—this despite the fact that when Jacob was alone at the Jabok River and wrestled with the angel of the Lord, his name was changed from Jacob to Israel.

 Pause for a moment and consider the exact language which the Lord uses to speak to and reference His chosen people. “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: Be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:8-10). “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:14). “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passes through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou was precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I gave men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:1-7). “Thinks people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise” (Isaiah 43:21). “Year now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob my servant; and thou Jesurum, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water upon him that is t hairstylist, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel” (Isaiah 44:1-5). “Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” (Isaiah 44:21-22).

CHOSEN! TAKEN FROM THE ENDS OF THE EARTH! CALLED FROM THE CHIEF MEN! CREATED! FORMED! REDEEMED! CALLED! LOVED! CREATED! FORMED! MADE! FORMED! CHOSEN! MADE! FORMED! CHOSEN! FORMED! Pause and allow the tremendous affection and affirmation that surrounds these words to envelop and consume you. Allow the depth of these words to resonate deep within your soul and spirit as you consider with what great language the Lord speaks to Israel. On more than one occasion the Lord emphatically declares to Israel that He has chosen them. On more than one occasion the Lord emphatically declares to Israel that He has not only created, but also formed and made Him. The Lord declares to Israel that He both loved and has redeemed Him. In addition to—and as if this weren’t enough—the Lord also declared unto Israel that He called Him and taken Him from the ends of the earth. When speaking to Israel, the Lord is sure to declare unto him that He was created, formed and made by Him—and not only made by Him, but also formed for Him. When seeking to understand the existence of Israel in the earth, it is necessary to begin with the creation of Israel, as the Lord created Jacob, and formed Israel—a reality which I firmly believe is a powerful picture of the Lord’s work within our lives. I firmly believe that there comes a point within our lives when creation gives way to formation, as it is indeed true the Lord created us, but that creation is only the first step in the process of His work within our lives. Eventually creation gives way to formation, as creation speaks of the image and likeness of our Creator which we represent. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand, it’s that we were created in the image and likeness of the Lord our God, yet we are both formed into the image and likeness of His Son. In addition to this, we are not only formed into the image and likeness of the Son, but that same image is also formed within us. It’s worth noting and pointing out that while Jacob was and is the servant of the Lord, and while Jacob was created by the Lord, there would come a point when Israel would be formed from Jacob. Jacob was the starting point—both as a man and as a nation—yet Jacob was not the end result. The Lord began with Jacob, yet His ultimate purpose was that Israel would be brought forth and manifested in the earth.

The Lord created Jacob within the womb of Rebekah and from the seed of Abraham which was passed down and transmitted through Isaac, yet the Lord would form Israel from that which was already made. Consider how the Lord formed Adam not from that which wasn’t made, but from what that which already made—the dust of the ground. Creation speaks of the image and likeness in which we were made, while being formed speaks of being fashioned and made from that which was already made. Adam was made and formed of the dust of the ground—that which was already created within the first five days. The Lord formed Adam of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life which caused him to become a living soul. I am convinced we must recognize and understand this, for just as Adam was formed from that which was already made and in existence—the dust of the ground—so too was Israel formed from that which was already made in present upon the earth. Israel was not formed and made “ex nihilo”—“out of nothing”—but was formed and made from Jacob, which the Lord had created upon the earth. In order for Israel to be formed, Jacob had to first be created, for creation always precedes formation, as formation involves the molding and shaping of that which is already in existence into that which the Lord has designed, intended and purposed. First needed to come the creation of Jacob from the seed of Abraham, then would come the formation of Israel from that which was produced from the seed. Each and every one of us were created from the seed that was found within our father, and were carried in the womb of our mother, yet it is from that seed that we are conceived and brother forth—brought forth so we could be formed according to that which the Father designed and intended. Tell me dear brother, dear sister—are you aware of the fact that you were created in the image and likeness of God, and created from the seed which was passed on through your father, yet that was not the ultimate and end result. It wasn’t enough for you to simply be created from the seed of your father and brought forth into the earth. You were created to be formed; I was created to be formed; we were created to be formed. Adam was formed from the dust of the earth, while Israel was formed and fashioned from the dust of Jacob. Israel was formed from the dust—from the carnal and earthly nature of Jacob—in order that the Lord might bring forth something spiritual and supernatural within the earth.

Formation is incredibly crucial and vital for us to understand, for when Adam was formed from the dust of the ground, the Lord Himself put His hands upon Adam, as the only way to “form” something is with the use of one’s hands. Notice that even Israel was formed after and according to the same method and procedure, as when Jacob finished wrestling with the angel of the Lord, the angel stretched forth his hand upon Jacob and touched the hallow of his thigh. Even the formation of Israel involved and included the Lord putting and placing His hands upon Jacob, for it was as a result of that touch that Israel could be brought forth in the earth. When speaking of the formation that occurs within your life and within my life, it is absolutely necessary that we understand formation is not only the taking of that which is already in existence and fashioning it, but formation also involves the direct involvement of the Lord of hosts. If we seek to understand our formation—that act of spiritual formation within our hearts and lives—it is necessary that we recognize it as being the Lord’s hands upon that which has already been created in order that something new might be brought forth. It’s interesting and worth noting that the earth seems to and appears to have been created first, for it was from the earth Adam would be formed and breathed into in order that he might become a living soul. The creation of the earth had to occur first, for it would be from the dust of the earth the Lord would form Adam—and not just form Adam, but also breath into his nostrils that he might become a living soul. Adam was taken from and formed from the earth, for Adam would forever be connected to that which He was taken and formed from. Adam would be formed from that which he was taken from, while Israel was formed from that which he was taken from—Jacob. How grateful and thankful we must be that the Lord is able to take even the dust of the earth and form it into something as wonderful and incredible as a living soul. Similarly, the Lord is able to take something as difficult as “deceiver” and “supplanter,” and form it into that which is “prince of God.” When creation gives way to formation, deception gives way to becoming a prince of God. Formation is absolutely necessary, for that formation is a direct result the transformation of our old nature into an entirely and brand new nature. Oh that we would get this in the depths of our spirit, for it reveals something incredibly powerful within our lives.

One of the single greatest questions that I must ask is simply this: Are you forming, or are you being formed? When speaking to Israel, the Lord emphatically declared and spoke of His forming and making Israel. Side by side and directly connected to this is an additional process that is directly set against the formation of the Lord. Consider the language and words of the Lord as recorded in the forty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah. “Is there a God beside me? Yea, ther eis no God; I. Know not any. They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed. Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together. The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioners with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint. The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he market it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he markets it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house. He He Seth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planter an ash, and the rain doth nourish it. Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and bake the bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto. He Burnett part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasters roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: and the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god. They have not known nor understood: for He hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. And none considered in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? Shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? HE feeders on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:8-20).

When I read this passage of Scripture I can’t help but see a definitive contrast between the Lord of hosts forming Israel from the nature and person of Jacob, and the forming of idols, images and false gods. The forty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah presents us with an absolutely amazing challenge as we are faced with our actions. The more I read and consider this passage of Scripture, the more I can’t help but asking what process of formation is taking place within my own life. Am I being formed by the very hand of God into that which He has called me to be, or am I spending my time, effort and energy forming and fashioning idols and images of my own making? There is a vast difference between the Lord of hosts who fashions us into that which He has called and created us to be and us forming idols and images into our own image, our own making. It’s worth noting that while we have been called to allow the Lord to form us into that which He has purposed, there are a vast majority of men and women who spend their days forming idols of their own making. SIANTS FORMED IN THE IMAGE OF THE INCORRUPTIBLE! IDOLS FORMED IN THE IMAGE OF THE CORRUPTIBLE! Beginning with the eight verse of this chapter we begin to notice a transition in the words and language of the prophet Isaiah as he begins to reveal one of the greatest tragedies that faced the nation(s) and kingdom(s) of Israel and Judah. Eventually, there came a point in time when despite the fact that Israel had been formed by the Lord from the nature and essence of Jacob, Israel spent their days forming and fashioning idols of their own making. I must pause and reveal the tremendous danger that surrounds our refusal to allow ourselves to be formed by the Lord and our persistence in forming idols and images of our own choosing and making. There are many men and women who decide that they themselves want to be the one who forms and fashions rather than allowing the Lord to form and fashion. When Adam was brought forth upon the earth he was brought forth from the dust of the ground, as the Lord took from the dust of the ground, formed man from the dust, and then breathed into his nostrils, thus causing man to become a living soul. I can’t help but get the strong sense that there are men and women who take that which is corruptible and form it into something of their own will, their own choosing, their own imagination, and they attempt to bring it to life in and of themselves.

I can’t help but be reminded of the words of the apostle Paul when writing to the Roman congregation—words which are recorded in the first chapter of the epistle. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because, that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections ;for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, coveteousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters inventors of evil things, disobedience to parents, without understanding covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:18-32).

When the forty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah opens, it opens with a powerful description and declaration of the Lord concerning His chosen people—“Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurum, whom I have chosen” (Isaiah 44:1-2). This chapter opens with the Lord speaking of His creating and forming Jacob, and doing so from the womb, yet eventually you come to the point where the Lord is no longer speaking of His forming of Israel from the womb, but rather the formation of idols, images and false gods. With this language, the Lord is distinguishing and differentiating Himself from the idols, images and false gods which were made within the land ever since the days of Solomon king of Judah. Eventually there came a point in time when Israel had forgotten that he had been formed by the Lord of hosts, and actually sought to be the one who would do the forming. Eventually, Israel would enlist the aid and assistance of blacksmiths, carpenters, and the like to form and fashion images and idols of their own imagination. When we look at men and women we can clearly see the imagination—the heart and mind of the Lord—for we are the visible expression and manifestation of God in the earth. When Jesus the Christ came to the earth, He came as the physical embodiment of the living Father, and even went on to declare that if any had seen Him, they had seen the Father. When we were created, we were created in the image and likeness of the Father, which essentially means that we have been called to represent that image and likeness in the earth. When we look at each other we should clearly see the imagination of the true and living God, as we are the representation of God upon the earth. Each and every one of us—regardless of whether or not we have made the decision to follow the true and living God—bears the image and mark of our Creator. The tragedy is when we neglect the image in which we have been made and seek to form and fashion our own creations of our own imagination. Imagine men and women actually engaging themselves in the practice of forming idols and images after the image of that which is corruptible rather than allowing themselves to be formed by the invisible and incorruptible God. We play a very dangerous game with the living God when we allow ourselves to not only form and fashion idols and images of our own imagination, but also bow down and begin to worship them.

What’s so interesting about this forty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah is that we can see very clearly echoes of the garden of Eden—echoes of the creation and formation of man. In the second chapter of the book of Genesis we read how the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground and then breathed into his nostrils, thus causing him to become a living soul. In this particular chapter within the book of Isaiah we witness the same reality, as the Lord speaks of forming Israel from the womb, and His promise to “pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.” Within this particular chapter in the book of Isaiah we not only see the formation, but we also see the breath and the breathing of God into that which He has formed. The person of the Holy Spirit is often referred to and known as the “ruach,” or the divine breath of God. I must say again that it is not enough to merely be formed by God from that which has already been made, for it wasn’t until the Lord breathed into his nostrils—the divine Ruach entered into this creature—that he became a living soul. I would dare say that although the Lord formed Israel, it wasn’t and wouldn’t be until the Lord breathed into Him—“pour my Spirit upon thy seed”—that Israel became a living soul in the earth. When Israel was formed, he was first formed from a man, then formed into a house, then formed into a people, and ultimately formed into a nation and kingdom. What we must recognize is that there can be no formation without and apart from the divine breath of God, for it is only when the divine breath of God is breathed into that which has been formed that it becomes that which the Lord intended it to be. The sad and tragic reality is when we attempt to form and fashion idols and images of our own making which can and never will become a living soul, but instead remains that which is blind, deaf, dumb and mute. Try as hard as they may, man can work with iron, bronze, gold and silver, and work to form an image and idol of his own imagination, yet that which he has formed will be nothing more than an inanimate object that can neither hear, nor see, nor speak. Oh how many of us spend our time falling down before and worshipping that which cannot hear, nor see, nor speak? How many times do we neglect our own spiritual formation in order to pursue our own vain practice of forming inanimate objects of our own imagination?

What I have to point out is the incredible promise of the Lord of hosts through the prophet Isaiah in the twenty-first and twenty-second verses of this chapter. “Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” (Isaiah 44:21-22). This was indeed the second time within this particular section of the book of Isaiah when the Lord declared to Israel that He would blot out their transgressions. In this passage the Lord declares that He blotted out, as a thick cloud, their transgressions, and as a cloud, their sins. This same God who “ maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and power; they shall lie down together, they shall now rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow” (Isaiah 43: 15-16). This God who has formed us is the same God who has made a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters—a clear reference to the path that lie beneath the waters of the Red Sea and the waters of the Jordan River. Oh that we would pay close attention to these words spoken by the prophet Isaiah and worship the Lord of hosts who makes a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters. Oh that we would read these words and be challenged in our pursuit of allowing the Lord of hosts to form and fashion us, and to form the image, the character, and the likeness of Jesus within us. Let us abandon our vain and futile attempt to form and fashion idols and images of our own making, in order that we might allow the Holy One of Israel to form us into that which He has planned and purposed. Oh that we would fulfill the imagination, the heart and the mind of the Father of lights. Let us completely reject any and all idols and images we have made and allowed ourselves to fall down and worship in order that we might fall down and worship the true King of kings and Lord of lords.

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