Isaiah 59:15-16. The LORD saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.
“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
Isaiah’s prophecy describes God looking for someone to bring justice to earth, someone to intercede. But there is no one. No man. But God did not give up, he rolled up his sleeve and did the job himself. His own arm brought salvation. His own righteousness upheld him.
This is not the first time Isaiah has mentioned the arm of the LORD. Earlier in the prophecy, Yahweh’s “arm” is the person who will rule for him. The Messiah.
Isaiah 40:10. Behold, the LORD God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
Of course everyone knows that God will send his Messiah to defeat Israel’s enemies and restore glory to Jerusalem. No surprises there. But then Isaiah drops two prophetic bombs on his people. The first one came in Isaiah 53.
Isaiah 53:1,3. Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
The Arm of the Lord is not only a conquering king, but also a suffering servant. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. The Arm of Yahweh will be a lamb led to the slaughter.
This was, of course, a very misunderstood and eventually forgotten prophecy. When Jesus told his disciples that he would have to die, Peter rebuked Jesus. When Jesus did die, his disciples said, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). The mighty Arm of the Lord dying? A Messiah who loses? A King who is crushed? No way.
And as if the bomb of a dying messiah wasn’t enough, Isaiah drops a second one as we’ve seen above – his own arm brought him salvation. Here’s our second great plot twist in Isaiah – the Arm of the Lord IS the Lord. God could not find any man to bring justice and righteousness. No mere mortal could be his Messiah. He would have to do the job himself. Yahweh’s Arm will be himself.
So Isaiah, you’re telling us that the Messiah, the conquering king, will be a suffering servant, a slaughtered lamb? And that that conquering yet conquered Servant-Messiah will be God himself?
Yes, that’s what I’m telling you.
And yes, this is unheard of.
Isaiah 64:4. From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
A God who leaves his throne? A God who takes on flesh? A God who allows himself to be crushed? A God who demands nothing from his creation except rest? A God who joins his life to his creation? A God who indwells his people?
No one has ever seen anything like this before.
“To live is Christ” is simply to rest in this messianic work of God. The work he alone could accomplish. God’s own arm has brought him salvation. And God’s Arm, Jesus, has brought you his salvation. So step down from your throne and step off the stage and let Christ do what he does best – save you.
In what ways are you still trying to save yourself these days?
You in Christ
How can knowing that your salvation is in the Arm of the Lord allow you to rest today?
Christ in you
What is one specific way that you can relinquish control of your life to Jesus today?
Playlist: Arm of the Lord.
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