In our Lord’s Day services this month, we’ve been studying the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the song Mary sang when she visited her cousin Elizabeth and the unborn John leaped for joy in the presence of the unborn Messiah. This past Sunday, we looked at verses 51-53, which contains the phrase “He has shown strength with his arm.” This reference to the arm of God led us to consider what this imagery means.
God’s Deliverance of His People
When God drafted Moses to lead His people to deliverance, He commanded him: Say therefore to the people of Israel, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment” (Exodus 6:6).
Later, in the Song of Moses, we read these words: Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O Lord, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased. (Exodus 15:16).
Psalm 77:15 also declares: You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Deuteronomy 5:15 also speaks of God’s deliverance: the Lord your God brought you out of there [Egypt] by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm. Strength is so much a part of the arm imagery that someone who is defeated is said to have had his arms broken. For example, God said through the prophet Ezekiel, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Ezek. 30:21).
God’s Judgment of His Enemies
Deuteronomy 33:27 combines the two elements of protection for God’s people and judgment for His enemies: The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, “Destroy!”
Isaiah 30:30 uses the arm imagery when speaking of the punishment of wicked, And the Lord will cause His voice of authority to be heard. And the descending of His arm to be seen in fierce anger, and in the flame of consuming fire. And, God says, My arms will judge the peoples (Isa. 51:5).
God’s Victory and Ultimate Salvation
Psalm 98:1 proclaims this victory: His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him. And, my personal favorite: The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God (Isa. 52:10).
After looking at every occurrence of the “arm of God” in Scripture, we may come to this conclusion: The arm of the Lord refers to His omnipotent strength employed for the deliverance of His people and the punishment of His and their enemies. God is the mighty warrior who protects, defends, and delivers His people. He judges His enemies and leads His own to ultimate salvation. He did this in the past, for Israel, and will do it in the future for the bride of Christ. The One who came to Bethlehem—as Savior—will come again to the earth as Judge. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20).