Isaiah 63:9 In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
This chapter gives an emotionally stirring picture of God’s amazing love, grace and mercy shown towards his chosen people. He longed for someone to rescue them from their enemies and from THEMSELVES; but no-one could be found, so he saved them himself: “I looked, but there was no-one to help, I was appalled that no-one gave support; so my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me” (v.5).
This rescue strategy was very costly: “Why are your garments red, like those of one treading the winepress? ‘I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no-one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing’” (vv.2-3). He did not stand aloof from their pain and suffering, although, in his holiness and justice he had every right to do so because it was their own sin and rebellion that had brought them the misery! No, “in all their distress he too was distressed … in his love and mercy he redeemed them”.
How could all this NOT point to Christ? As Isaiah had already written in Chapter 53:4-6: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” – which is clearly foreshadowing Jesus’ suffering FOR US on the cross. The God of the Old Testament is the SAME God as the one who “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We think of the distressed Saviour whose “sweat was like drops of blood” as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). We think of Paul’s declaration of the heart of the Gospel: “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering” (Romans 8:3). We think of the Apostle John’s response to the vision given to him of the outworking of human history: “And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?’ But no-one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no-one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne …” (Revelation 5:2-6a).
May we never forget, “it is by GRACE [we] have been saved, through faith – and this not from [ourselves], it is the gift of God …” (Ephesians 2:8).
– Bruce Christian