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  • Curios for Christ

Currier & Ives "Old Grist Mill" Dinner Plate

This plate is American transferware, made in the 1950s. The plate designs are from old Currier & Ives historical lithographs. The plates themselves are made by the Royal China company, which stopped operating in the 1980s.

The dinner plate design for the line is "Old Grist Mill." It features exactly that, a historic grain mill with a water wheel and lovely country scenery.

The idea of a grain mill is used often in the Bible. It was a regular form of work, always running and grinding wheat or other grains. In some cases, the ceasing of milling is used as a prophecy of downfall to a nation, such as to Babylon in Revelation 18:22.

However, I want to show how G-d uses grinding as a symbol of development. This first comes about in Isaiah 28, which is a Messianic chapter. G-d describes the woes of Israel, that they have turned away from Him. The Kohanim (priests) and prophets are drunk (v. 7) and Israel "made a pact with Sheol" (v. 15).

G-d then describes the solution to the problem, that He will send a cornerstone, a firm foundation that will right the wrongs of history (v. 16). This cornerstone, Yeshua, will defeat the pact with death and restore Israel to their original righteousness (v. 18).

Isaiah then explains the cornerstone process through the analogy of sowing and grinding grains. He describes the process of plowing, sowing, threshing, and finally grinding. The importance in the process is that there are distinct stages with definite purposes to their actions. Each step is methodically done by the farmer or miller in order to produce the perfect final product. If the process was any different, the final result wouldn't be usable.

"Bread grain is crushed, but not endlessly.

Rumbling cart wheels and horses over it

would only crush it to powder." (Isaiah 28:28 TLV)

The analogy is that G-d is reforming His people through a process. However, the crushing will not last forever, otherwise Israel would be as powder. G-d, in His great wisdom (v. 29), mills just enough to take the hard, cold-hearted grain and form it into soft, receptive flour.

There's another instance of grinding used with development. Samson, after he is betrayed and his hair is cut off, is forced to grind grain in prison. We know, as the story goes, that Samson repents before G-d and is able to have one final victory over the Philistines. It isn't explicitly stated, but in between his folly with Delilah and his reconciliation with G-d (wrought from the death of his pride) is time he spent at a mill.

Comfort can be taken from these situations. It may feel like you're being ground down. The mill stone keeps coming around, knocking you down before you can get back up again. G-d is forming you to be stronger than you were before. Samson killed more Philistines in his final act than in his entire life previously.

Trust in G-d's process. Both Apostle James (James 1:2-4) and Apostle Paul (Romans 5:3-5) mention the benefits of the process. Instead of feeling weary in the process, be joyful that G-d has a great destiny ahead for you.

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