“But you, Israel, are My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
The descendants of Abraham My friend.
You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you, ‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away.’" Isaiah 41:8-9
I like to do word studies on the Scripture I am studying at the moment. I especially like to look up the official definitions of the common words we are sure we already know everything about. I never fail to learn something new. In this passage, YHVH declares that He has taken us from the ends of the earth.
The word is chazaq, to fasten upon, to seize, to be strong or courageous, to be or grow firm or strong, to strengthen; to bind, restrain, or conquer. – Strong’s. It is more than just to take someone’s hand with their permission and lead them along. It means to seize or to conquer.
Think of it this way: before we were born again, we were citizens of the kingdom of darkness. The flesh and self and Satan were our gods (although we were most likely ignorant of the fact). In fact, in our former state we were not merely indifferent toward God: we were enemies of God. But the love of the Lord for us is so great, His yearning to have us as members of His family so intense, that while we were yet enemies and sinners, He took (chazaq) us: He defeated the power of Satan, hell, sin, and death, and rescued us from the kingdom of darkness, and fastened upon us to translate us into the kingdom of His dear Son. Like a special ops commando raid, He strengthened His mighty right arm and set His face like flint to win us by any and every means necessary, including dying. And He did this all by wooing us with His love.
Vine’s adds that one of the meanings of chazaq is to harden, either physical strength, or moral strength. So when a man strengthens his heart, he can turn it into stubbornness against God. He hardens (chazaq) his heart. I got to thinking about that, and thought that if God can strengthen His heart to fasten upon us for His own, can we not strengthen our heart to fasten upon God for our own? Instead of hardening our heart against God, we can harden our heart against anything that would distract our love or devotion from God. He has taken us, and we can in the same manner, take Him, by fastening upon Him and seizing Him, and stubbornly refusing to let Him go for anything.
And that is one meaning, to me, of loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. 🙂