“Be Thou their arm every morning.”—Isaiah 33:2
God’s arm implies His power. God’s people stand in need of His power every morning—yea, all the day. “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?” Who is it? Not the world, for they are going down the wilderness. They want not the arm of another; they know not their own weakness.
Nothing is more common than to hear and see men who are in the flesh boasting of their capacity to do and will that which is acceptable to God. How different is the language of those who are taught of God! Such tremble at their own weakness, and are often afraid of themselves. They know they are not sufficient of themselves either to do or think the thing that is good; consequently, they want an arm to lean upon, and such an arm has Christ. He gathers the lambs with His arm, and when gathered, holds them fast in His hand. “My sheep shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” The whole of the saint’s security depends on the arm of the eternal God. If He were to remove His arm, fall we must. From the first beam of divine light to the last, we are borne up by the arm of God, and every child of God may say, “I was cast upon Thee from the womb.”
It is said of Israel, “He took them by their arms; but they knew not that He healed them.” “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love; and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” Even so it is now with God’s spiritual Israel. His arm first brought them salvation. He brings them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and breaks their bonds in sunder.
In the regeneration of a sinner, God’s arm is remarkably seen. No man can quicken his own soul. This is exclusively the work of omnipotent power, and is accomplished instrumentally by the Word of His Gospel. “Of His own will begat He us, by the Word of truth.”
Men may turn from one form of religion to another, and back again to the first, and then give all religion up and turn Deists, because God was not the Author of their religion; but the water that Christ gives unto His elect “shall be in them a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The anointing which they receive of Him shall be in them and abide. The unclean spirit may go out of a man, and the man’s house may be swept and garnished. He may live for a time a sober, moral life, till the unclean spirit returns again, and enters into him; for, if the unclean spirit go out without being driven out by the arm of God, he may return again, and the last state of that man will be worse than the first, because he has more work to stifle conscience; and his religious knowledge is generally attended with greater enmity against the truth; and it had been better for him not to have known the way of righteousness, than after he has known it, to “turn from that holy commandment which was delivered unto him.” But the saints receive their religion from God. It is not of flesh and blood, but by the revelation of the Father, who always leads them to Christ in the end, as the only Centre of rest. For this purpose were they quickened—“You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and in sins.” Such “are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” In them is fulfilled God’s gracious promise—” The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isa. 52:10).
The glorious work of God’s power must go on according to the good pleasure of His will, till every elect vessel of mercy is effectually called. Jehovah will never be defeated in His designs. Every period shall unfold His hidden wisdom and prove His firm decrees. Every doctrine that represents God as liable to disappointment in the accomplishment of His eternal purposes is a solemn mockery of His majesty; or to talk of God’s power as waiting for the sinner’s compliance before it can be effectual to his salvation is an arrant falsehood, and a burlesque on the Almighty and His Word. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.” “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh I will in no wise cast out.” Every regenerated soul is taught to lean on God’s arm, which is Christ (see Isa. 53:1). His arm brings salvation, being all powerful, to His elect children. The Gospel “is the power of God for salvation unto every one that believeth.” My soul, it was God’s arm, and not thine, that brought thee salvation. He took thee, and drew thee out of many deep waters of soul trouble, and made thee depend entirely on Himself for righteousness and strength. As thou hast received Him, so walk in Him; and above all things, reject an arm of flesh. “Cursed is man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the living God.”
The arm of God is conspicuously seen in the maintenance of divine life in the hearts of His children. Every child of God has to carry about with him a body of sin and death, which makes him deeply groan, being burdened, “Oh, wretched man that I am I Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’’ But groaning implies life. Where there is no life there can be no groans. This proves the power of God’s arm amidst all the powerfull corruptions of the human heart, which was Paul’s body of sin; and every putting forth of God’s arm gains us a victory over the old man. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Every act of faith is produced by the power of God. The faith of God’s elect stands not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. The catalogue of the faithful ones and their feats, recorded in Hebrews 11, is a striking account of God’s powerful operations. Written more to set forth His glory than His people’s excellency; and every sent servant of God should well observe and not rob the Master of His honour, by attributing to and that to the effect instead of the cause. “They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, and talk of Thy power; to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom” (Ps. 145:11, 12).
Jehovah tells Zion that her “Maker is her Husband; the Lord of Hosts is His name.” Paul says that the head of the woman is the man; therefore, for the woman to usurp authority over the man is to invert the order which God hath established. We are taught by this our subjection to, and our entire dependence on, Christ, our heavenly Husband. Wouldst thou, ransomed sinner, walk safely and comfortably to heaven, and enjoy comfort by the way? Then thou must lay hold of the arm of thy Husband, Christ. If thou faintest, He fainteth not, neither is He weary. We read of Samson, that such was his strength and zeal that he slew thousands with the jawbone of an ass. But this was typical of Christ, who with His strong arm spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them, openly triumphing over them in it. Samson also slew a host, and died in the struggle; so did Jesus, but after three days revived us by raising up Himself. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it np again. He spake of the temple of His body.” Now, the children of God were raised up together with Him virtually, and are made to sit together with Him in heavenly places in Christ. Jesus, as King in Zion, bears the sword and sways the sceptre, and will reign till all enemies be put beneath His feet.
Believer, the arm of Christ is as powerful as it ever was. He is able to save us out of the hands of our enemies, that we may “serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness, all the days of our life.” “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that He cannot save; neither is His ear heavy, that He cannot hear.”
My soul, He is both able and willing to defend thee from all the dire assaults of thy great adversary, Satan, and to preserve thee safe to His heavenly kingdom. “Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Most Mighty, with Thy glory and Thy majesty. And in Thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things” (Ps. 45:3, 4).
My God, Thy gracious arm, Thy matchless power
Shall gird my soul in every trying hour;
Thy mercies new each morning I shall want;
Without Thine arm and mercy, Lord, I faint.
Thou knowst that in myself I nothing am
But sin and death, and what I dare not name:
Permit a worm to lean upon Thine arm,
And let Thy speech my cold affections warm.
Thus gird me, keep me, all my journey through,
And prove Thy Word of promise firm and true;
And when on me Thou dost bestow the crown,
I’ll sound aloud Thy glory and renown.
Henry Fowler (1779-1838) was an Independent sovereign grace preacher and hymn writer. In 1813, he assumed responsibility for a gospel work in Birmingham. He removed to London in 1819, serving as pastor of Gower Street Chapel. The original congregation met in a chapel on Conway Street, and were followers of William Hintington’s ministry. Upon Mr. Fowler’s acceptance of the call to serve as pastor, a new chapel was built on Gower Street. This chapel (now demolished) was the predecessor to the old Gower Street Memorial chapel on Shaftesbury Avenue.