“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.” Isaiah 49:16
Were you ever just driving down the road and somehow got to thinking about something in God’s Word and just got so excited about it that you couldn’t wait to sit down with the Lord and your Bible to get into it even deeper? That’s how I am right now and have been since the day before yesterday about this! And it’s not that I put off getting into this Word here. I had to wait and finish another treasure hunt in His Word first!
The day before yesterday, as I was driving in my car, I started thinking about making a gift for a dear friend. I have a wooden plaque at home that I used a router to engrave these words, “Without firm faith you will not be firmly established.” (Isaiah 7:9b) And I was thinking about making an engraved plaque for my friend. But what I was thinking about saying on it was too much. And while all this “visionary contemplation” was going on in my mind as I was driving down the road, I was struck with the thought in Isaiah 49:16. I was brought to the idea of the people of God, of whom I am one, having been engraved in the palms of God’s hands and in Jesus’ hands and I was struck with what a wonderful treasure that was as I began to think about the significance of that statement and truth by the mouth of God.
“Behold, I [God] have engraved you upon the palms of my hands…” I think about that piece of wood on my shelf, that one that at one time was sanded and smoothed all over. And then I took a router and and engraved within its substance the words that would now forever be a part of that piece of wood. The wood and it’s engraving are now inseparable; they have become one. To destroy the words would be to destroy the wood.
Now, there is no way anyone can destroy You, God. That is a wonderfully empowering thought. And You, by Your power and in Your pleasure, engraved me and each of Your children, Your people, in the palms of Your hands. This perfect, glorious, all-knowing, all-powerful, worthy of all praise and adoration, God engraved us who are not yet perfect and like You into Your very own hand. You take us and place us within the substance that is You. You make us a part of You forever. We become inseparable; we become one even though You are always more and always still God. And there is nothing that can ever destroy You. And there is nothing that can negate the work that You have done.
That gives a whole new and deeper meaning to Jesus’ words in John 10:28: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” Did you get that? We are engraved right into the Father’s hands. And since Jesus and the Father are one, that means I am that closely held by Jesus too. He’s not just closing his fingers around us. Because He had engraved our names in His hand before time, Jesus demonstrated the depth of that glorious engraving through His life, death, burial, and resurrection! We are engraved in the hands of the One who lived and died and lives again that He might be fully glorified in us and through us, His ultimate creation!
When I think about how Jesus tells us we must abide in Him and Him in us, I think of this picture. I am engraved in His hand. My being has been made a part of God Himself. What courses through the hand of God, courses through me. The strength in just His hand alone, is there surrounding me and coursing through me. And because I am in Him, He is in me. Therefore I have His strength and character as my source. I am embedded in You, Lord. Do I live like that is true?
Skip Moen, another contemporary believer, was meditating on this verse also. He shares how cultures of long ago used inscriptions to engrave things like laws and decrees on stone or metal tablets. Sound familiar? Even God did that when He inscribed the commandments for Moses. Inscribing something in such a way insured that the law was permanent. The Hebrew word used in this verse is “haqaq” which means “to carve or engrave or portray.” And it does have to do with statutes and legal rights. And I wonder if God does the work to engrave us on His hands because it’s the only way that we can meet the demands of fulfilling His covenant, His Law? I can only be and do what He calls me to in Him and in His power. He perpetually binds me to Him and to His Holy Spirit in Jesus so that He can perform in me what only He can do. But only when I surrender to Him and allow Him to place me in Himself so deeply will I be able to live in and fulfill His will. Skip Moen shares these thoughts, ” In this verse from Isaiah, God says that He has made a permanent record of our names in a place where He is constantly reminded of each of us. The visual image is that He sees us as His own every moment.” How do I see myself? Do I see myself as fully Yours, Lord?
Along that line of thinking, I’m carried to another verse. Revelation 2:17 shares, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. ‘ To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.'” (Just thinking that Jesus is referred to as the Bread of Life and as the Rock.) So our name is written in God’s hands and we will receive a new name written in a white stone. Do you know that name? I don’t know that name yet. But I do know that Skip Moen and I aren’t the only people who thought about it.
George MacDonald, a scottish author, poet, and Christian minister thought about. Listen to what George had to share from the 1800’s, his lifetime. “The giving of the white stone with the new name is the communication of what God thinks about the man to the man. It is the divine judgment, the solemn holy doom of the righteous man, the ‘Come, thou blessed’, spoken to the individual…The true name is the one which expresses the character, the nature, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol – his soul’s picture, in a word – the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is…It is only when the man has become his name that God gives him the stone with his name upon it, for then first can he understand what his name signifies. It is the blossom, the perfection, the completeness that determines the name: and God foresees that from the first because he made it so: but the tree of the soul, before its blossom comes, cannot understand what blossom it is to bear and could not know what the word meant…Such a name cannot be given until the man is the name. God’s name for the man must be the expression of His own idea of the man, that being whom He had in his thought when He began to make the child, and whom He kept in His thought through the long process of creation that went to realize the idea. To tell the name is to seal the success – to say ‘In thee also I am well pleased’.”
MacDonald goes on to speak about the individuality of the relationship of each man to God. We all, every one of us, have our own peculiar relation to Him. Yes, we are peculiar people. ( 1 Peter 2:9, Titus 2:14) Lord, You fashion each of us for our own particular purpose for You. I can worship You like no one else. And You respond to me as to no one else. You have a secret for each one of us and each one of us is to search that out in You. You don’t reveal this secret name of mine to someone else. You reveal it to me. Therefore, no one else can totally enter into the inner chamber of my peculiar life in You. Only You can fully enter. And here’s the thing. George says there is a chamber in You that no one can enter but that one peculiar person himself, and when we enter and come forth we “bring revelation and strength” for others. George adds, ” This is that for which he was made – to reveal the secret things of the Father.”
Well, I don’t know my name yet. But I can confidently step forward in the delight and strength of knowing that who I am, me, my name, is not just written on Your hands, Lord, but forever engraved in the essence of who You are. Some day, when You have completed Your work in and through me and my character is everything that You created it to be, You will reveal it to me and I will see the glorious work of who You created me to be. That will be a beautiful name. So, right now, I don’t know that name. I don’t know my full identity yet. As Skip Moen expressed, “I am a man who lives without an identity, a wanderer far from home where I am known as myself. I am sure God knows my name but I have not grown to the place where He has revealed it to me. I have not yet become what He envisioned. I am not yet His thought of my fulfillment.”
Lord, I so long for that day when I shall fully know, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12) And I know that You will bring me to that day. But in the mean time, it’s hard looking through that dim mirror. But I will walk forward in You, in Your strength, in Your power, in Your love, in Your guidance, forever more than held, forever engraved in You. And that will remain my hope. That will remain my joy. And I will praise You because You made me in a fearful and wonderful way, even engraving me within You. You said it, Lord and You have done it. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: he that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4,5)