Thursday, August 15, 2019

A Journey to The Arm of the Lord

“You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah (Psalm 77:15)”

Many Israelites (“the sons of Jacob and Joseph”) as well as Gentiles were redeemed long before the cross of Jesus Christ. They were saved by faith in the True and Living God. Paul says, quoting Genesis 15, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’” Abraham was Jacob’s grandfather and lived hundreds of years before the Law was given through Moses.

Asaph, here in Psalm 77, speaking of the Lord’s Arm says, “Your Arm redeemed your people.” At the time of Asaph there was the covering for sin available through the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament Law, the Mosaic Law that God gave the Israelites after He delivered them from slavery in Egypt, hundreds of years after Abraham lived and trusted in God. But, through Jeremiah God said that He would make a New Covenant with the House of Israel, not like the Old Covenant made in the desert (Jeremiah 31).

Before the cross of Christ, Gentile believers were saved by faith, in some cases without the Old Covenant, and Israeli believers were saved by faith through the Old Covenant, until the time of the Messiah (see Galatians 3:19). With the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, and His death and resurrection for the sin of the world, God has made a New Covenant with His people Israel and redeems all people through faith in Jesus. His death and resurrection was predicted in Israel through the prophet Isaiah more than 700 years before the time of Jesus. This prophecy is found in Isaiah 53. Since the birth of the Church after Jesus rose again, God saves any person (Jew or Gentile) that will truly repent of their sin and believe that Jesus died for their sins, turning to Him as their Lord and Savior.

So, Psalm 77:15 speaks of the redemption by faith for His special people Israel, but also all who would call on His Name after the Messiah would come and die for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Thirdly, Psalm 77:15 looks forward to the Second Coming of Christ and the establishment of his Messianic Kingdom on earth directly after His return, and fourthly, to the New Heavens and New Earth coming at the end of the 1,000 year Messianic reign of Jesus on earth (Revelation 20-21:1-8).

Now, let’s look at this phrase in Psalm 77:15, “You have with your Arm redeemed your people…” This description of God's “arm,” what does that mean? We know that God the Father is Spirit, so He does not have a physical arm.

In Hebrew, “zrowa” means arm, but it is used in many passages figuratively to represent strength. And in many verses it means the strength, might and power of the LORD. Its figurative use paints a picture for us so that we can “see” God reaching into our world and accomplishing His will. But, the Apostle John quotes Isaiah’s use of the phrase, and in so doing he applies it to Jesus- as a title.

In John chapter 12:37-38 he says of Jesus, “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the Arm of the LORD been revealed?"

John quotes Isaiah 53:1 as speaking of Jesus as the “Arm of the Lord!” The word “arm” should be capitalized in our Bible when it is used as a title of Christ. Isaiah 53 is clearly about the Messiah and John confirms that Jesus is “the Arm of the Lord” whom most did not believe in.

This phrase only appears in one other place in the Old Testament. The phrase “the arm” or “Your arm”, etc.., speaking of the Lord’s strength, and the Messiah in certain contexts, does appear in other places in the Old Testament, but the whole phrase “Arm of the Lord” only appears in John 12:38, Isaiah 53:1, and Isaiah 51:9.

“Awake, awake, put on strength, O Arm of the LORD! Awake as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Are You not the Arm that cut Rahab apart, and wounded the serpent (Isaiah 51:9)?”

Rahab is a reference to Egypt when God delivered Israel from enslavement. The serpent is probably a reference to crocodiles in the Red Sea as they crossed over during the Exodus. Egypt is used as a prophetic type of sin in the Bible, and Israel’s deliverance from captivity in Egypt is a type of the believer’s deliverance from sin and death through the redemption found in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 51 as an amazing chapter to read in its entirety, but I have shared in this article a journey that led me to another verse in this chapter. And I hope this next verse brings as much comfort to you as it did to me when I saw it. Isaiah 51:5 says,

“My righteousness is near, My salvation (Hebrew: yesha) has gone forth, and My Arm will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait upon Me, and on My Arm they will trust.”

In Hebrew the word “coastlands” is ‘iy (ee) and effectively means Gentiles here. Um, if you’re not Jewish, that’s you and me! And the “Arm,” that’s Jesus!

And here is what got me: “and on My Arm they will trust.” I immediately see a young child laying across their father’s arm, fully trusting in and resting in their father’s strong, loving embrace. He is holding us, keeping us safe and keeping us near. And how has the LORD accomplished this? The Arm here is Jesus Himself, our Savior, our Lord, our Redeemer. He is the One mentioned in Psalm 77:15 who redeems God’s people.

Are you trusting in Jesus? Do you have the assurance of resting comfortably in your Father’s Arm, in His strength and blessing? If you do not know God, He is calling you to become His child today. We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. No good work will ever make up for the sin we’ve committed, or make us right with God. But Christ’s finished work on the cross paid the price for our sin. You can be made right with God through Jesus Christ. When you repent of your sin and turn to Jesus, you will be born again, set free from sin and death. You will have the promise of eternal life through Jesus, the Messiah. Turn to Him today. Trust on the Arm of the LORD!