PASTOR’S CORNER: Tyler Prater, Fellowship Baptist Church, Liberal
Have you ever given much thought to God’s arms? “God has arms?” you might be wondering. When God describes His arms, He doesn’t tell us their circumference or how much He can lift – those are human, physical terms, like the athlete showing oﬀ at the gym.
But God’s description of His arms tells us some awesome things about Him. In fact, the dual description of God’s arms in Isaiah 40:10-11 shows us His power and His comfort.
“Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him…”
When the Bible talks about God’s right arm, it refers to His powerful, ruling arm—His justice, His holiness, and His strength. God is like that. He is all that and more. There is no greater demonstration of his strong arm than creation itself. God is so powerful that with just a spoken word He created the entire world and all that is in it. And He created it all from nothing. God also used His strong arm to part rivers, defeat armies, overthrow kings, slay giants, and stop the sun. This is why Scripture tells us that nothing is impossible with God!
But then the very next verse describes His tender shepherd arm. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”
Imagine a shepherd in the fields, and this gives you a picture of God. A shepherd can oversee hundreds of sheep, but he holds only one at a time. He gathers the lambs one by one in his arms. The point here is that this awesome God cares for you. Personally. Individually. Yes, He’s guarding a big flock, but when He cares for the lambs, He tends to them one by one. This is God’s love for you. Personal. Individual. Attentive. Aware. Devoted. That’s how He cares for you.
When He carries His lambs, He holds them “in his bosom.” Picture that. He doesn’t hold us awkwardly squirming at arms’ length. No, He draws us close, right to His own heart. And He will “gently lead those that are with young.” The sheep that is about to give birth is vulnerable, with unique needs. And the shepherd accommodates those needs. In the same way, when our needs are great, the Lord is that much more attentive to us. Some of us are at a point of acute need right now in our business or in our family. God knows what it is. And just as pressing as that need is, His attention matches that. He’s on it! He is right there, gently leading those whose circumstances demand additional care.
If you’ve spent any time in church, sadly you’ve probably heard one extreme or the other: a ton of preaching about the transcendent, holy, awesome Judge or a ton of preaching about the tender, loving, merciful Shepherd. But He’s both, right? In this passage we clearly see both. Don’t let God’s nearness minimize His transcendence nor let His transcendence make you think He isn’t very aware of you individually.
So which one is He — mighty or tender? Yes! His arm is a picture of absolute power and unconditional love.
That’s your King. That’s your Shepherd. That’s your God.