Isaiah 63:9 “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.”
We continue onward in Isaiah 63 and today are reminded of just WHAT the Lord has done for us. We saw last time that the Lord has truly blessed us no matter what we’re going through, and that His blessings and lovingkindness and goodness toward us are not just “ok” or even “good” but are GREAT and honestly innumerable. Today we’re reminded of just what some of that great goodness of God has done for us.
Today’s verse is a prophecy also, of the Lord Jesus. And yet even to the Children of Israel, God poured His Love out like none other! Many people hear–and believe–the lie that the God of the Old Testament was a malicious and unloving God. Many Christians believe that very thing as well. What that leads to, is a lawless, grace-only “love gospel” that says, “Under Jesus you don’t even need to worry about following the Bible because Jesus loves everyone, and everyone is going to heaven if only they believe in Jesus.” Sadly, many souls will end up in hell because of that very lie. Remember that even the devils “believe” and yet they’re certainly not going to heaven (James 2:19). There is a remarkable difference in just “believing” and actually FOLLOWING the Lord Jesus. Even many of those who call Jesus “Lord” will not make it (Matthew 7:22-23, and Luke 6:46), but rather it is those who do “the will of my Father which is in heaven” as the Lord says in Matthew 7:21. This is far from saying that salvation is due to our own works or due to some sort of righteousness which we do. No, this is simply looking at what it actually means to call Jesus “Lord.” We live in a world of vain words. People believe that just because they say something regarding the Lord, it’s magical true and therefore must be. Yet, to call Jesus Lord and not actually HAVE Him as YOUR Lord, still means that you are lying when you call Him Lord and He is not actually Your Lord. What does “Lord” mean? Lord is a title given to someone who rules. Is Jesus ruling your life? Or do you rule your own life? Take (confess) Jesus as YOUR Lord, and you truly will be saved–and that is far from due to your own works. It is solely because you submitted yourself to the One who is actually capable of saving…and the One who is most worthy of such submission and love on our part!
To get the full understanding, let us look at today’s verse in parts. The start of the verse tells us “In all their affliction he was afflicted,…” Don’t just say a great, big “Amen!” like many others do, but think about that for a moment. In all our affliction, HE was afflicted! Whenever WE go through troubles, HE went through those same troubles. This alone speaks volumes to us. When you love someone, and you see that person hurting, your own heart hurts doesn’t it? You wish so badly that you could take it all away, and yet you can’t always do that. Especially in terms of parents and children, when a parent sees a child go through a rough time, and feels the pain and hurt of growth, that parent wants so badly to take that pain away and yet it can’t be done. Sure if we had the power of God we could take away the growing pains. However, at that very same time we would be stunting that child’s growth and learning and thereby actually causing more pain. It’s as the story many have probably heard already–of a butterfly trying to escape its cocoon. It struggles so much, and looking upon it we may want to–in love–help it out by cutting the cocoon open to let the butterfly out. And yet to do that we would be easing the struggle, yet the butterfly would emerge with small, weakened wings which it can’t fly with now. Yet our heart still breaks, as does God’s heart breaks when we are going through problems. When the Israelites went through the self-inflicted problems they went through, the Lord’s heart wasn’t pleased, but broke as well. He was just eagerly waiting for them to repent and turn to Him again so that He could take them back out of whatever problems and bondages they were going through. Another aspect of this part of the verse is that, as God enters a covenant with someone, it is like marriage. He and that person are bound together, and so when that person is going through affliction He as well goes through that affliction. Your spouse, when he or she is suffering, do you not also feel the pain and suffering as well? You’re not separated and living separate lives (or if you are…don’t call yourself married because that is far from what the marriage relationship is), but rather are close together and going through it together. That is how the Lord deemed Israel, what they went through He too was going through because He entered into that covenant.
Yet, still many people would say, “God does NOT know what it’s like. He is way up there in heaven, not human, and therefore is incapable of understanding what it is like for us people.” To that I would ask “Who do you think CREATED the emotions and feelings you experience when you go through affliction?” Do you think God doesn’t know anything about something that HE actually programmed and created and made? Did He just *poof* and say “Oh I think this should react this way when this happens?” No, God has the very same feelings that we have: love, anger, jealousy, hurt, joyfulness, and so forth. Where do you think you got those feelings? God is definitely capable of understanding. And yet, He also knew that people would say such a thing. So what did He do? He left the throne of heaven and donned the flesh of humanity, as Jesus of Nazareth! So that none can say that God doesn’t know what it is like to be “us humans.” As we are told in Hebrews 4:14-16 “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
When you’re afflicted, HE is also afflicted, and truly understands what it is like to go through whatever it is we are going through. This shows us just how much He Loves us, that He understands when we’re going through trials and affliction, and wants us to run to Him because He is the only way to get through. As He says in the next part of the verse: “…and the angel of his presence saved them…” Many people when they read or hear the term “angel” they think of these beautiful, winged, flying men or women dressed in a white robe, sometimes playing a harp. The Word of God is not always on the same level when it speaks of the angels of the Lord. (Take a look at the cherubim which most think of as pudgy little babies. The Word’s description is actually frighteningly different: having six wings, four faces, and in Genesis they were the guardians to make sure none entered back into the Garden of Eden. Not so innocent-looking right?) The word “angel” simply means messenger. In Revelation the letters were written to “the angel of” the seven churches. Some have wondered if that means an actual angel or the minister of those churches. Elsewhere in the Word, when “angel” is used it either means the actual angels of the Lord, or the Lord Himself. You can often tell simply by context. Here we see the “angel of the Lord’s Presence saved them.” Two things to note for what it means: one, “the Lord’s Presence” shows that the Lord was there. And two, “saved them” shows that it indeed is the Lord who saved them and not just an angelic being. We know that, because throughout the Word of God we know that God alone is from where salvation comes! We know from the Word of God that the Lord dwelled with the Children of Israel. When they were in the wilderness the Presence was in the Tabernacle and was represented to them by a pillar of smoke and column of fire. Later in the Promised Land the Lord allowed king Solomon to build a temple. Today we can remember the name of the Lord Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14/Matthew 1:23) who has brought such salvation to us by leaving the throne of heaven above and coming down to dwell among us and be the ONLY sacrifice that could bring true salvation from sin. Praise God! He has truly shown us His unfathomable love toward us!
The next part of today’s verse says just that: “…in his love and in his pity he redeemed them…” Today, the word pity often carries with it a bad connotation. Many people hear that word and think it means something bad. Yet the word pity in the Word of God paints a picture of compassion, like we would have on an innocent child left to fend for itself (as I often refer to Ezekiel 16 as a great example of God’s compassion toward us). We read that it is because of God’s great love and compassion/pity toward us that He redeemed us! It isn’t because of some great righteousness we have done. It is solely because God loves us GREATLY, that He brought salvation and redeemed us from the hand of the enemy and our own destruction. God didn’t have to save us. He chose to save us because He loves us. This alone should make us realize how deserving of our own love that God is! If only people would stop, and just think and meditate on all the wonderful things that God has done for us in love, I believe they would truly begin to love God in return, and truly would enter into a REAL relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ, and would begin to LIVE for Him instead of just claim His Holy Name by words alone and find out they tragically won’t make it in on the day of judgment (Which actually, that last statement is the real meaning behind “Don’t take God’s name in vain” which–God willing–I’ll put together another study on sometime). Let us love God, because He surely poured His love out on us!
The last part of today’s verse continues to show us how much He loves us, “…and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” This reminds me of the story behind the title of the song “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my brother” which is said to come from meeting a young boy or girl who was carrying a younger boy. When asked if he/she was tired from carrying another child, he/she said, “No, he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” In the same way, the Lord carries us from the moment we are His to the moment we can embrace Him face to face clothed with eternity! Not long ago these words echoed in my mind as I saw a video of two other brothers who were putting on a skit. One represented us, and the other represented God. The one said to the other, in not the exact words, “I’ve let you down so much, God.” to which the response was, “No, my child, you were never holding Me up! It is I who carry and hold YOU up by My Righteous Hand.” How true that is, and how often it is that we forget such truthful words. The Lord loves us, and holds us up. It is only by His Hand that we do not immediately fall into the hands of the enemy, and into the lothesome pit of sin in which we were once were ensnared! Realizing that, let us realize that since it is by HIS hand we can walk uprightly, we can indeed, walk uprightly! To think that we cannot go a day without sinning, is to think God is incapable of upholding us.
Let’s never forget the VAST, and GREAT LOVE That God has bestowed upon us! His love is unfathomable! We cannot grasp just how much He loves us. Let us therefore, return love to Him, by giving our lives and living for Him. That is, afterall, the least we can do for Him!
I continue to keep you all in my prayers, and love you with brotherly love. Please keep our brothers and sisters across the world in your prayers, and let us never forget the wonderful love of the Lord, and just what He has done for us to deserve our own love. May God continue to bless you all greatly, and you have an excellent day today in the Lord!
Love always in Christ,
Psalm 91:2 “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”