The Lord has bared His holy arm
In the sight of all the nations,
That all the ends of the earth may see
The salvation of our God, (52:10).
The metaphor, to “bare one’s arm,” refers to when “the warrior preparing for action throws off his mantle, tucks up the sleeve of his tunic, and leaves his outstretched arm free.” Elliott’s Commentary for English Readers
In Scripture, the Arm of the Lord is used figuratively in reference to His Strength and Power in His judgment, His deliverance, and His creation.
“I Myself will war against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm, even in anger and wrath and great indignation,” (Jeremiah 21:5).
and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders, (Deuteronomy 26:8).
“Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,” (Jeremiah 32:17).
And I wondered; when Isaiah spoke to the exiles of what was coming, when He spoke of Him Who Has Bared His Holy Arm so that all the nations to the very ends of the earth would see His salvation, what were His people expecting?
Perhaps they expected more plagues as in Egypt; perhaps they expected some extraordinary feat such as the parting of the Red Sea; perhaps they expected walls to fall like those of Jericho. They didn’t really know what to expect; but I can’t help but think they were getting ready for an epic reveal when He finally came as Him Who Has Bared His Holy Arm.
Consider Him Who Has Bared His Holy Arm
God’s people didn’t know exactly what to expect, but they were told to ready themselves in His strength and the beauty of His liberating redemption.
Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion;
Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city;
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
Will no longer come into you.
2 Shake yourself from the dust, rise up,
O captive Jerusalem;
Loose yourself from the chains around your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion, (52:1-2).
For the time was coming that they would know His Name and hear Him speak.
For thus says the Lord, “You were sold for nothing and you will be redeemed without money.”4 For thus says the Lord God, “My people went down at the first into Egypt to reside there; then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. 5 Now therefore, what do I have here,” declares the Lord, “seeing that My people have been taken away without cause?” Again the Lord declares, “Those who rule over them howl, and My name is continually blasphemed all day long. 6 Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, ‘Here I am,”(52:3-6).
And they would relish in the good news of peace, happiness and salvation as their God would come to reign; and they would find comfort in Him Who Has Bared His Holy Arm to restore the waste places of Jerusalem.
How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices,
They shout joyfully together;
For they will see with their own eyes
When the Lord restores Zion.
9 Break forth, shout joyfully together,
You waste places of Jerusalem;
For the Lord has comforted His people,
He has redeemed Jerusalem, (52:7-9).
And in that place, He would Bare His Holy Arm to cleanse and purify His people, lead them out of bondage, and surround them by His Presence both before and behind them.
Depart, depart, go out from there,
Touch nothing unclean;
Go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves,
You who carry the vessels of the Lord.
12 But you will not go out in haste,
Nor will you go as fugitives;
For the Lord will go before you,
And the God of Israel will be your rear guard, (52:11-12).
But then, He shares the most astonishing news; the epic reveal, unveiling just what the One Who Has Bared His Holy Arm would look like.
Oh yes, there would be prosperity and the exaltation of His Servant; but not before He Had Bared His Holy Arm in anguished suffering and humiliation. And His Power and Strength would be seen in One so marred He would barely be recognizable, One so beaten that His blood would spurt to sprinkle the nations that all would see the salvation of our God, until there was the understanding of where His Strength and Power truly lie.
Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand, (52:15).
Sprinkle: “5137. נָזָה nāzāh: A verb meaning to spurt, to spatter, to sprinkle, to spring, to leap. This verb appears only a few times in the basic verbal form and carries the connotation of blood spurting or spattering (Lev. 6:27; 2 Kgs. 9:33; Isa. 63:3). In the causative form, the verb connotes the sprinkling of a liquid as part of a ritual cleansing. The sprinkled liquid could be blood (Lev. 5:9; 14:7); oil (Lev. 8:11); water (Num. 19:18, 19); blood and oil (Ex. 29:21); or blood and water (Lev. 14:51). Also in the causative form, this verb could signify to leap or to spring, especially with the connotation of surprise or joy (Isa. 52:15),” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
This is Him Who would bring the Strength of His Salvation, this is Him Who Has Bared His Holy Arm through His Holy and Sinless blood:
- for the forgiveness of sins
- “for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins,” (Matthew 26:28).
- to ratify the New Covenant
- He gave them the cup in like manner, when the meal was over. “This cup,” He said, “is the new Covenant ratified by my blood which is to be poured out on your behalf,” (Luke 22:20 WMT).
- to justify us and save us from the wrath of God
- Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him, (Romans 5:9).
- to bring us near to Himself
- But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ, (Ephesians 2:13).
- to reconcile and make peace for us
- and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven, (Colossians 1:20).
- to cleanse our conscience
- how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14).
- to sanctify us
- Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate, (Hebrews 13:12).
- to redeem us
- knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ, (1 Peter 1:18-19).
- to cleanse us from all sin
- …and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin, (1 John 1:7).
- to purchase us for God
- “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation,” (Revelation 7:14).
How do we respond to Him Who Has Bared His Holy Arm?
Christianity just doesn’t fit the world’s idea of Strength and Power. And Christianity doesn’t ask for man’s help either. It is His Salvation to give, His Holy Arm to Bare; it is His Way, and no other.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14:6).
But even when we are saved by faith in the blood of Jesus, the truth is, sometimes life just doesn’t make sense; and sometimes the temptation to look towards the strength that the world recommends is powerful: take matters into our own hands; do whatever it takes; seek immediate solutions; please yourself.
And sometimes the temptation to expect Him to come in the way we think He should come is even stronger with the questions our expectations raise. Why doesn’t He send plagues as in Egypt? Why doesn’t He do some extraordinary feat such as the parting of the Red Sea? Why doesn’t He make the walls fall like those of Jericho?
In those times, let us remember what His Strength looks like. Though He was marred and disfigured in the eyes of man, He Who Has Bared His Holy Arm was without blemish or sin as He perfectly trusted and submitted to His Father’s Will.
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously, (1 Peter 2:21-23).
Oh, that we would follow His example as we depend on Him Who Has Bared His Holy Arm to lead us in His Strength. Because the truth is, the strongest thing we can do is rest and be carried by Him Who Has Bared His Holy Arm.
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes, (Isaiah 40:11).