New Living Translation (NLT)
9 O Zion, messenger of good news,
shout from the mountaintops!
Shout it louder, O Jerusalem.
Shout, and do not be afraid.
Tell the towns of Judah,
“Your God is coming!”
10 Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power.
He will rule with a powerful arm.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
Here is another passage from the beautiful book of Isaiah prophesying the coming of the Messiah, of Jesus Christ. (And another passage engraved in my memory through the magnificent music of Handel’s Messiah.)
First, this passage reminds me that the coming of Jesus is news worth shouting. Jesus came to earth and lived, died, and rose again for us. Jesus has come into my own life. “Shout, and do not be afraid.” Yes.
This passage also speaks to me of the saving power of Christ and the tender shepherding of Christ.
I can see why the people of Israel were awaiting a political/military savior. Verse 10 speaks of the Sovereign Lord coming in power and ruling with a powerful arm. I know this speaks to the return of Jesus Christ, and I am challenged and heartened by the reference to the reward he will bring with him. And I love the tense “is coming”… “he brings.” This is a “done deal.” It is declared in the heavens and it is happening. It reminds me of the transcendence of God, his transcendence over time.
While we see this as a reference to the 2nd coming of Christ, I also see how Jesus ruled with a powerful arm when he first came. (Just not the temporary kind of “conquer the Romans” power people were hoping for at that moment.) Think of the many signs of power.
The very heavens were involved – the star, the visible breaking through of hosts of angels. Surrounding his birth as a helpless baby, there were signs of power and authority.
We know that Jesus seemed different to people because he spoke and taught as one with authority. The power of God was not completely veiled. (Luke 4:32 and many others)
Evil spirits recognized him and had to obey his commands.
He had authority over the manifestations of the fallen nature of human bodies – he healed every kind of sickness, disease, and congenital condition. Even the seeming finality of death was not a hindrance to his healing authority. (John 11 and many others)
The transfiguration. Peter, James and John had a glimpse of his full glory on the mountain. (Mt 17, Mk 9, Lk 9)
His behavior throughout his trial and crucifixion. This was a person in complete control of himself and of his destiny.
His resurrection and ascension.
This is so exciting. I could sit awhile and preach on each one of these!!
But I’ll refrain.
I do want to mention that the powerful arm of God is inextricably associated with his salvation of his people. He uses his mighty arm to save, to deliver, to protect his people over and over in scripture. He saves us from temporal things, yes – he saved the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, for example – but he saves us for himself forever. Even our passage yesterday (Isaiah 52:10) can be translated into English as referring to “victory” or “salvation.”
So this is a lesson in not trying to fit Jesus into our own wishes and interpretation of who he says he is but discerning his actual meaning when he says who he is.
The very first song I ever studied in voice lessons as a young teen was “He Shall Lead His Flock” – you’ve got it, Handel’s Messiah.
The same God who broke through time and space and was fully God and fully human (!!) is our tender shepherd who
Carries the lambs (us) in his arms
Holding them (us) close to his heart
Gently leads the mother sheep with their young
In his arms
Close to his heart
Take a moment to realize that you are enfolded in his arms, that you are close to his heart, that he is gently leading you. If you are a mother, he is gently leading you WITH your young. They are in his care.
Tomorrow’s scripture: Genesis 3:8-15