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Indelible Grace: Inscribed on His Hands

January 5, 2014

Isaiah 49
Indelible means that which cannot be removed, washed away, blotted out, canceled, effaced or erased and thus speaks of that which is unforgettable, lasting and cannot be lost or annulled. Such is the grace of God in Isaiah 49:16, one of the most beautiful expressions of God’s everlasting love in all of Scripture. 

Have you ever wondered if God has forgotten or forsaken you? Even now perhaps you feel like David who cried out to God his Rock, “Why have you forgotten me?” (Ps 42:9note) Perhaps like Israel of old you are saying “My way is hidden from the LORD. My cause is disregarded by my God.” (Isa 40:27song) You find yourself in your own personal Pilgrim’s Progress “slough of despond (note),” bogged down in the “spiritual quicksand” of seemingly endless adversities and afflictions which keep dragging you deeper into despair. I understand for that is where I am as I write. But even better Jesus understands for on the Cross, He cried “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mt 27:46Ps 22:1note) Jehovah Rapha (note), the Great Physician, understands for “He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered and is able to come” to our aid as we are tempted (Heb 2:18note) having given us spiritual truth in Isaiah 49:16 that like the balm of Gilead can heal our souls of what Spurgeon calls that “unbelief which often makes us talk about God forgetting us when He does nothing of the kind. We know not which most to wonder at, the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of His people. He keeps His promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt Him. He never fails; He is never a dry well; He is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapor; and yet we are as continually vexed with anxieties, molested with suspicions, and disturbed with fears, as if our God were the mirage of the desert.” Father, by Thy Spirit grant us grace to sing in faith

There amidst the love and glory
He is waiting yet
On His hands a name is graven
He can ne’er forget.
(Francis Havergal)

Ancient Zion (a picture of Israel) still smarting from the pangs of exile in Babylon cried out “Jehovah has forsaken me” to which God responded “Can a woman forget her nursing child? (Ed: Not usually, but some have.) Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold! I have inscribed (engraved) you on the palms of My hands. Your walls are continually before Me.” (Isaiah 49:14-16). C H Spurgeon, who preached three sermons on Isaiah 49:16 reminds us that “These words apply, first of all, to God’s ancient people, the Jews (the accurate interpretation), but they are equally true of all believers (a valid application).” Spurgeon adds that the phrase “‘I have graven thee’ does not say, thy name. Our name is there, but that is not all: I have graven THEE! See the fullness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there. Wilt thou ever say again that thy God hath forsaken thee when he has graven thee upon His own palms?”

Scripture records “Neither shall any man snatch them out of My hand (or) out of My Father’s hand.” (Jn 10:28-29noteBehold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands.” (Isa 49:16)” My times are in Thy hand.” (Ps 31:15note) Vance Havner refers to these passages as “having the situation well in hand. Here is security for time and eternity.  The palm of the hand is a well-protected place and that hand can fold into a fist if threatened! Not only ourselves but our times, all our circumstances, the day in which we live, the happenings of our lives—all these are under His control. Sometimes they are beyond our control, but “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” He not only leads us by His hand, He keeps us in His hand.” J I Packer calls us to affirm the truth that “I am graven on the palms of His hands. I am never out of His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him, because He first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, One Who loves me; and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters (cf Mt 10:30-31).” Do you believe the beautiful Scripturally sound words of the hymn

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great high Priest Whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
Hallelujah! (Bancroft)

As Kay Arthur says “If you are God’s child by covenant, a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, this is the truth you must cling to when you feel abandoned: You are inscribed on the palms of His hands! For the feelings are just that-feelings. Feelings that are very real, feelings that you must deal with. But remember reality. Reality is the fact that a covenant has been cut on your behalf. Your feelings will betray you-overwhelm you cripple you-if you do not decide, by the gut-level determination of faith, that “feel it or not” you will trust your Covenant God. Put on the music … the hymns of the faith … the choruses of trust. Sing whether you feel like it or not. Sing whether you can sing or not. Sing until your feelings conform to reality.” In fact sing Toplady’s “A Debtor to Mercy Alone” (or a chorale version)…

My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase
Impressed on His heart it remains
In marks of indelible grace
Yes, I to the end shall endure
As sure as the earnest is given
More happy, but not more secure
The glorified spirits in heaven.

As Spurgeon says “If you will think of those hands of which the Lord says, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands,” you may rest assured that nothing can come from those hands but what infinite Wisdom directs, and infinite Love has ordained.  Rejoice then, O Christian that God’s love does not fail in the furnace, but is as hot as the furnace, and hotter still.”

Normally in ancient times a slave would bear the brand mark of his master, but in Isaiah 49:16 we see an act of ineffable divine condescension in which the Master inscribes the servant’s name on His palm! Charles Wesley applied this Scripture to Christ, writing,

Arise, my soul, arise, shake off thy guilty fears
The bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears
Before the Throne my Surety stands
My name is written on His hands. Amen!

What are these marks but the marks of indelible grace, tangible manifestations of God’s covenant cut with us on Calvary’s Cross, covenant marks testifying today and throughout eternity “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, so that we may confidently say, the Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?” (Heb 13:5-6-note). For God to forget us or abandon us, the scars inscribed in the palm of His hands must disappear! Perish all thy doubting thoughts! Beloved of the Father (1Jn 3:1-note), see the Savior spread out His hands before us with our own name inscribed in His scarred palms. Surely we are not for even a moment forgotten, but are loved faithfully and forever by our great God!

Come with me to that moment in eternity where John is weeping and lamenting that there is no one to open the scroll (Rev 5:4-5note), writing expectantly “I saw between the throne with the four living creatures and the elders a Lamb standing, AS IF SLAIN, (same verb in Greek of Ex 12:6 describing the perfect lamb Israel was to “slay at twilight”! cf Jn 1:291Co 5:7) (Rev 5:65:912noteRev 13:8note). Transported into the future, John saw those scars indelibly inscribed by the nails that once impaled Him to the old rugged Cross, scars that will forever be the brand marks of God’s everlasting covenant, yes, even the scars that bear our names beloved. Inscribed forever. Eternally secure. Precious pictures of passion perfected for His treasured possessions to marvel at throughout eternity. And so the Lamb Who was slain has not forgotten our name, for He cannot forget what is immutably inscribed in the palm of His hands throughout eternity! Spurgeon encourages us to “Look at the nail-print, that is His memorial, His forget-me-not, and by it He says to thee…

Forget thee I will not, I cannot, thy name
Engraved on my heart doth forever remain
The palms of My hands whilst I look on I see
The wounds I received when suffering for thee.

Now come with me and gaze expectantly with eyes of faith at future grace (1Pe 1:13note), that glorious day in eternity future, when we are seated around the Table of the Lord, celebrating the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. John testifies “Blessed (fully satisfied independent of circumstances) are those who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” (Rev 19:9note, cf Lk 14:15Lk 13:29Lk 22:28-30Mt 8:11) Now turn to the parable in Luke 12 which records a glorious passage (Lk 12:37note) that many commentators such as John MacArthur [note] describe as a “remarkable statement (that) pictures Christ, at His return, ministering as a Servant to believers!” Alexander Maclaren has an sermon on this one verse entitled “Servant-Lord.” The esteemed 19th century commentator Johann Bengel called Luke 12:37 the greatest promise in God’s Word, for in it we see a prophetic picture of the Gentle, Humble Jesus, the Servant Lord, condescending to “gird Himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and (He) will come up and wait on them.” (Lk 12:37, cf Jesus girding Himself at His First Coming – Jn 13:4-5) As He gives you the bread, you recall His words to the disciples at the Last Supper: “I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God” (Lk 22:16) and “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Mt 26:29Lk 22:18) And as His glorified hands reach out (cf Rev 1:16-17note) to give you the bread, you see on them the nail-pierced scars, those marks of indelible grace, marks of His eternal covenant (Heb 13:20note). And then with even greater awe and amazement, you see your name there and you recall His precious promise now made perfect: “I have inscribed you on the palm of My hands.” And you bow humbly in worship and adoration and wonder at the Messiah’s Meekness and Majesty. 

“May our God bring home to you a sense of your safety in Christ Jesus! May He assure you that your name is graven on His hand and whisper in your ear the promise, “Fear not, I am with thee.” Look upon Him, the great Surety of the covenant, as Faithful and True (Rev 19:11note), and, therefore, bound and engaged to present you, the weakest of the family, with all the chosen race, before the Throne of God (Col 1:22note2Cor 4:14noteEp 5:27note, cf Jude 24); and in such a sweet contemplation you will drink the juice of the spiced wine of the Lord’s pomegranate, and taste the dainty fruits of Paradise. You will have an antepast of the enjoyments which ravish the souls of the perfect saints above, if you can believe with unstaggering faith that “faithful is He Who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” Amen (1Thes 5:24note) (Spurgeon)

Play “Before the Throne of God Above” by Selah
Note especially the lines
“My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.”

Here is the same Hymn by Shane and Shane

Play Arise, My Soul, Arise – up tempo version by Indelible Grace

Click for many pages of Additional Notes related to Inscribed on His Hands

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  1. Marta Latham permalink

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder that we can not be forgotten. I am sending this out to many. Thank you for your faithfulness to HIm. Our love, Marta and Stan

  2. Isidro permalink

    Glory to God…!

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