We know of course that God is Spirit (John 4:24) and does not have physical arms or body parts. But the bible will often use human aspects (such as physical appearance) to help us understand God’s qualities and different aspects of His character.
There are a number of verses in the bible which speak of God’s arms:
“You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand.” (Psalm 89:13)
“Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” (Psalm 98:1)
“The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:10)
“I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me.” (Isaiah 63:5)
As Jesus is the physical manifestation of God, He is the one who displays God’s arm. The arm is a symbol of a person’s power. It signifies strength, control and authority. An example of this authority is in the modern day phrase, the ‘long arm of the law’. Jesus stated that all authority had been given to Him (Matthew 28:18) and the book of Revelation shows that He will yield all power and defeat all enemies. (Another physical description of that power is that everything will be under His feet, signifying subservience and subordination).
As we have seen in recent blogs, the bible clearly states the appearance of Jesus to mankind twice, firstly at His initial incarnation approximately 2000 years ago, and secondly at His still awaited for second coming at the end of the age. In their own unique ways they both show strength. His second coming will display the power and authority that was just mentioned, however His first appearance may not at first glance seem nearly so dramatic. Born as a baby in a dirty stable, in a poverty stricken 3rdworld country, He came as the suffering servant, described in Isaiah 53. The power that was demonstrated was in the setting aside of his divine attributes (Colossians 2) and in the enduring of the weight of sin for us all. To have all that power and yet set it aside is strength indeed. This is the ‘right hand’ which is spoken of in the above verses, which worked salvation. Salvation is the outworking of that power, which made a way for us to approach a Holy God through Him.
Isaiah 53 starts off with a question:
“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1)
The answer to that question is us! The arm of the Lord has been revealed to us who have experienced His wonderful salvation.
Arms of course signify strength for the fight, but they are also used to embrace. God is not distant and aloof but desires to embrace us. The picture of Jesus on the cross with His arms stretched wide is a graphic picture of His love for us.
Finally, His arms are strong enough to carry us through every situation we find ourselves in. That is comforting to know!