Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Mystery of God's Hidden, Polished Arrow

Ancient Greek Arrowhead, circa 300 BC
"He made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me; 
He made me a polished arrow; 
in his quiver he hid me away."
(Isaiah 49:2)

This verse introduced a mystery. Who is this one with a mouth like a sharp sword? Who is this hidden one... hidden in the hand of God? The word "polished" also conveys the idea of choice or selection. The idea of being hidden in the quiver of God hints at God having a Son.

I have always loved a good mystery. From the time that I was young I liked to read books like Sherlock Holmes or an Agatha Christie cliffhanger. But when it comes to the Word of God, the Old Testament scriptures hinted at a mystery long before the birth of Christ.

In Isaiah 49 an individual is addressed by God. Though at one point it seems that God is addressing the nation of Israel personified (49:3), the next verses make clear that God is addressing an individual that has the incredible mission of bringing Israel back to God. The King can be spoken of as the nation... or can speak as the nation over which he rules. As the King of England in the days of the monarchy could say "I am England...", so Jesus the Messiah could say "I am the True Vine..." as He stood before the Temple in Jerusalem with his disciples and they beheld the golden vine surrounding the doorway that symbolized the nation (John 15).

So verses 5-7 make clear that the one addressed by the LORD is His Servant Messiah:

And now the LORD says, 
He who formed Me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him-- 
for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, 
and My God has become My strength-- 
He says: 
"It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." 
Thus says the LORD, 
the Redeemer of Israel and His Holy One,
to one deeply despised, 
abhorred by the nation, 
the servant of rulers: 
"Kings shall see and arise;
Rulers, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the LORD, who is faithful, 
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."
(Isaiah 49:5-7) 

Saul of Tarsus met this one that Isaiah prophesied would be the "light for the nations" and was blinded for a time by the brightness of His appearance on the road to Damascus. Later writing as an apostle of Jesus the Messiah, Paul would speak of the Gospel as a mystery (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9, 3:1-9; Colossians 1:27, 2:2, 4:3; and 1 Timothy 3:16).

In Isaiah 49 the LORD said that his servant would be "deeply despised, abhorred by the nation"; and though he would be seen as a "servant of rulers", yet kings would bow down to him. 

This is just one of many places in the Old Testament where the readers of God's Word are called to consider His mystery. Another is found in Proverbs in the words of Agur:

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?
Who hath gathered the wind in his fists?
Who hath bound the waters in a garment? 
Who hath established all the ends of the earth? 
What is his name?
And, what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?
(Proverbs 30:4)

Do you know the answer to Agur's riddle? Do you understand the name and the nature of the mysterious figure in Isaiah 49? He was hidden in God's quiver. He was selected for His mission to bring Israel back to God, to be a light for the nations, to be God's salvation to the ends of the earth... to be the arrow of God's judgment upon His adversary.

In another famous passage Isaiah asked:

Who hath believed our report?
and to whom is the Arm of the LORD revealed?
(Isaiah 53:1)

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