I’ve been having fun with the last two pieces (God’s Two Hands – Which Will You Take? and The Arm, Hand, and Finger of the Lord) talking about the anthropomorphisms of God. I hope you’ve also been having fun in a linguistically nerdy sort of way.
It’s fascinating that the Lord chose to inspire the writers of His holy Word to describe Him in human terms because it’s easier for us to relate to Him that way. The whole “God is spirit” thing (John 4:24) is way outside of us humans’ frame of reference.
Frankly, it’s tough for a physical being to relate to a spiritual being unless we become a spiritual being. We were able to at first. Well, at least for Adam and Eve. They walked with God in Eden, where the spiritual and physical worlds were one. But then they sinned. When God kicked them out of that sacred place, humanity was consigned to live physically-based lives while hungering to return to our spiritual connection to God our Creator.
Isaiah put it well, “But your iniquities are separating you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not listen” (Isaiah 59:2, italics author). But God does listen to those who call out to Him for forgiveness (Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13), and His whole plan from before the beginning is to restore Paradise Lost, where we can know Him as we are fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
There’s a way for us to reconnect with God until then, but we’ll still struggle relating to Him in this life because of that darn physical-spiritual split. But rather than us becoming like God, a spirit, to better understand Him, wouldn’t it be great if God became like us, a human being?
Oh, wait! He did!
Our Almighty God pulled off the greatest anthropomorphism in human history!
God didn’t just describe Himself in human terms. He literally became human in the person of Jesus, “Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man” (Philippians 2:5-7; also John 20:24-29). Now we have someone with whom we can relate, “Oh! So that’s what God is like! I get it now.”
But some would object. “Jesus is no longer with us in the flesh. He’s dead” (per to those who refuse to accept God’s recorded testimony) or “Jesus in His glorified body is with the Father” (per to those who accept God’s recorded testimony). How can we know Him?
But we have the recorded testimony by those who saw, heard, felt, and interacted with God in human flesh, the God-Man Jesus. Apostle John wrote, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life (Jesus) that was with the Father and was revealed to us—what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us” (1 John 1:1-3). John is serious here. You may deny Jesus was a human being, but you’ll have to fight John on that. His first-hand experience trumps your argument.
So here’s my point and what I want to explore with you briefly. If the Bible anthropomorphically says the Lord has an arm, hand, and finger, how has Jesus literally become God’s arm, hand, and finger? And how does that help us relate to our Heavenly Father?
Jesus, the Lord’s Arm.
The word “arm” in Hebrew is zeroah. It’s used in Isaiah 53:1, “Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm (zeroah) of the LORD been revealed?” We’ve already established the arm of the Lord refers to His strength, and Isaiah reveals what and who that strong arm is – God’s Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
What did this Suffering Servant do to show the Lord’s strength? “Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains, He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds, the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6). See? The arm of the Lord is a person!
How could Jesus go through the process that would cancel death, the payment for sin, and come out on the other side alive? Only by the arm of the Lord, His Father’s strength. Though appearing weak, Jesus became the arm (zeroah) of Lord, the peak of God’s strength.
Jesus is God’s strength that defeats death and gives life to us. Our Heavenly Father made His Son strong enough to die and defeat death and strong enough to live again. Jesus “strong-armed” sin and death, destroying both.
With His Father’s strength, Jesus became the arm of the Lord that tore away the barrier of sin and death that separates us from God. Jesus, as the arm of the Lord, restores our relational connection with God once again. We just haven’t experienced the fullness of that yet, but it’s coming!
What is the strongest thing in the world? Some say death. But the arm of Lord (Jesus) broke sin’s death grip. Wiser people say the strongest thing in the world is our desires and that the one who can master their desires is the truly strong person. But Jesus even strong arms our thoughts and desires and brings them under His control (Romans 6:6).
At the Passover celebration, a lamb’s shank bone (its arm) on the Seder plate reminds everyone of the Lord’s strength. The shank bone is the zeroah, representing a literal and figurative “arm.” During the final plague of the Exodus, the Lord unleashed His strength and struck down Egypt’s strength by killing all firstborns (the symbol of strength) not protected by the Passover Lamb’s blood.
In short, the arm of the Lord shattered Egypt’s arm. The Lord’s strength broke Egypt’s strong hold on the Lord’s people.
According to Isaiah, “Who is the arm, the zeroah, of the Lord?” Jesus! “To whom has He been revealed?” The whole world, first to His people, the Jews, and then to the Gentiles.
When someone is about to throw a punch, they roll up their sleeve, revealing their arm so that they can unleash the full unrestrained power of their strength. When it came time to deal with humanity’s sin problem, our Heavenly Father rolled up His sleeve and revealed His arm – Jesus in the flesh – to deliver the knock-out blow to our mutual enemy. Jesus is our Passover Lamb, the zeroah, the arm of the Lord, who crushed Satan’s strength and now becomes our Heavenly Father’s hand to help us come back to Him.
Jesus, the Lord’s Hand.
The hand of the Lord is His strength in action. Yes, the Lord’s arm crushed Satan’s grip, but it’s by His hand, Jesus, that he takes hold of us and rescues us “from the domain of darkness and transfer(s) us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).
Yet that’s not the end of the Lord’s work in our lives, and the hand of the Lord still moves. As I wrote in the last piece, “‘being under’ (experiencing) the Lord’s hand can be a bad or good thing.”
On the bad side, “the Lord’s disfavor is seen when His hand (strength in action) works against us. The Lord’s “upraised hand” is a threat to use His strength, and that’s a terrifying threat. The Lord’s hand exerts His strength to cause pressure. And the Lord’s hand, His strength in action, can cause death!”
But on the good side, “the Lord’s hand (His strength in action) does extraordinary things! The Lord guides us by His strong hand. His hand inspires and stimulates us! The Lord’s hand, His active strength, demonstrates His presence. And the Lord’s hand brings blessing.” The hand of the Lord can be bad for the person who rejects the Father’s offer of salvation via Jesus. They will know His bad hand – His strength bringing disfavor, His threat to strike, His curse, His judgment, and His forever death sentence.
But for all who take the Father’s hand (through Jesus), they will experience His good hand – His strength that saves us from death, His guidance and direction, His inspiration, His miracles, His help, enabling, support, presence, and His blessing. Again, will you take His extended hand (Jesus) right now?
That “right now” encouragement means the Lord’s finger is pointing at you, and it’s tapping on your heart.
Jesus, the Lord’s Finger.
The Lord’s finger means the targeted outworking of His strength. Again, this can be a bad thing or a good thing for us.
As the Lord wrote His Torah on stone with His finger, so under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit writes God’s commands and the right way to live on our heart (Jeremiah 31:33). “Writing on our heart” means that God gives us the desire and motivation to live according to His word after we're saved. The Holy Spirit is Jesus in us, the Finger of the Lord, and His job is to point out with targeted strength the parts of our lives we need to change. If we cooperate, then we think and act more like Jesus.
Genesis 2:7 says, “the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground.” The word for “formed” means “to fashion, form” and is used of a potter making pottery. So, get this! As the Lord initially formed humanity by His hand as a potter forms clay pots, the Lord re-forms us by His finger (Jesus’ targeted work) into the image He intended. Amazing, isn’t it?
But if we choose to ignore what Jesus is targeting in us to re-form and push back against Him, we’ll get the increasingly strong and persistent “finger tap” of conviction, also called guilt feelings. As Jesus taps His finger on specific sins, habits, or problems, He does it so He can forgive with liberality and continue engraving His image in us so we can be “Jesus in our flesh.” (Gee, it’s like one big circle – Jesus, God in the flesh – and His image, Jesus in our flesh!)
Why does God use His arm, hand, and finger so powerfully in our lives? Because He wants to show Himself to everyone in the physical world who can’t see Him, we are the only “Jesus” many lost people will ever see and understand.
When Phillip asked Jesus to show the disciples the Father, Jesus replied, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9a). The more Jesus inscribes His image in us, the more we hope to say the same thing, “The one who has seen me has seen Jesus, and thus the Father.” This blows my mind!
Yes, Our Almighty God pulled off the greatest anthropomorphism in human history with Jesus!
And now He will do it through you if you’ll take hold of Jesus, the Arm, Hand, and Finger of the Lord.
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts