This article first appeared in the Standard Bearer (vol.69, no.7), January 1, 1993.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
What a blessed truth is here presented unto us by our God, in His grace, and through Isaiah!
It is so important and comforting for us to know that truth, and to hold on to it tightly. For we have entered into a new year, and therefore come closer to the day when; according to Revelation 13:17, we will suffer severely at the hands of the antichristian kingdom that lies ahead, according to God's sure word. How comforting it is that by God's grace we are graven upon the palms of His hands, and that our walls are continually before Him! Our text, above, assures us that by God's grace we will refuse to take the mark of the beast. This "beast" is the coming antichrist, who will demand of all the elect children of God that they take the mark of the beast upon their right hand, or in their foreheads, in order to have the right to buy or sell.
Now already, in our present life, we have amazing inventions with which we can not "merely see things on the other side of the world, and hear recordings of what was said days and weeks before, but we can now see and hear what is happening on the other side of the world while it is happening. Indeed, we are not far away from the accomplishment of what the world has always tried to do - from that which it was frustrated from doing, when men tried to erect the Tower of Babel, to establish themselves as an ungodly nation that would wipe off the face of this earth God's beloved church!
With today's inventions and tools, men are making the world relatively smaller and smaller; and the unbelieving world is increasing in strength, and is becoming a greater threat to the physical well-being of God's church. By means of new devices, invented and manufactured, Satan will soon be ready to keep the believing children of God from buying or selling, and will cause many to starve to death.
What a comforting truth, then, do we find in that word of God presented in Isaiah 49:16. The almighty God has us graven upon the palms of. His hands; and the walls that protect the children of God in this life, so that they will dwell in all the blessedness of the new Jerusalem, are constantly before Him.
Not only do we know, at the beginning of this new year, what happened at the Tower of Babel, as it is presented in Genesis 11, but by God's grace we are able to see how the world is striving, and to quite a degree successfully, to erect that coming Tower of Babel presented in Revelation 13. For with crafty inventions; and being able bodily and speedily to go anywhere, not only here on this earth, but also by satellites to other places in the atmosphere, men will have at their disposal powerful means for the destruction of the New Testament church. And we can also see the comfort in God's Word that His church is graven upon the palms of His hands, and that its walls are continually before Him.
We are assured by our God that He has all things under His control. In our text above, He assures us that He will fulfill every word of His promises to us. The powerful Antichrist, that is soon coming, will not keep us from anything that God has promised us. We have the assurance that all things do work together for our good.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth in six days; and the seventh day He rested. As we are coming near to the day when 6,000 years have passed since that week in which God created all things in heaven and on earth, we do have clear evidence that this year we are much closer to the day when that beautiful city, which He has graven upon the palms of both of His hands, comes forth in all its beauty and blessedness. And we can, now, be absolutely sure that all is well, and that His church will come forth in perfection - in fact, come forth exactly as He eternally decreed to have it be for His own glory.
We do well, therefore, to bear in mind the fact that God's hands have almighty power. We should also appreciate the truth that we are graven upon the palms of His hands which are almighty. We then should also bear in mind the truth that every creature - and that also includes all the holy angels, and Satan and all his fallen angels - gets every bit of its life from God. Not one creature is physically next to God. God is in all creation and creatures. He is the everywhere present God, who is everywhere with His almighty power. He causes absolutely everything that takes place to happen, as He wants it to happen. He stops every heart from beating, the exact moment He eternally planned that it should stop. Absolutely everything that happens is what He eternally planned. He uses both of His hands -which are mentioned in this verse - to fulfill all that He eternally planned.
Those almighty hands of God are gracious means which He uses so that every single one of His elect children will reach the glorious life which He eternally planned for them. This is so beautifully presented in I Corinthians 12:12-27. We are the body of Christ and we all have our eternally designed place in that body. We are, according to this passage, "the body of Christ, and members in particular."
Now, to be graven in His hands means that in God's own work, which was eternally determined by Him, we will be in one specific place, for specific work that was eternally determined by Him. Our God has graven us upon those palms of His hands with a view to all the wonderful work we will do in the new Jerusalem.
Eternally God determined where we would be in the body of Christ. But He also eternally decreed what He would do in His almighty power to bring us, with other members of Christ's body, where we would be to the glory of His name. It also means that we are absolutely safe, and that He will, at a particular moment in our time, send His Son from His heavenly glory to bring us completely and powerfully to a most blessed life.
We do well, therefore, to take note of that which precedes that statement of our God, that He has us graven upon the palms of His hands; and that our walls - that is, those of the new Jerusalem - are continually before Him. In verses 13-15, and thus just before this statement that He has us graven upon the palms of His hands, our God, through Isaiah, calls out: "Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains." This He does because Zion had said that the Lord had forsaken and forgotten His people. And our God, through Isaiah, asks whether a woman can forget her sucking child; and whether He can forget His church. Then, in this 16th verse, God calls us to take note of the truth that He does have us upon the palms of His hands, and that our walls are constantly before Him.
Therefore, as we now approach the days of the Antichrist, and are a year closer to the day when we will not be able to buy or sell, and in that way will be severely persecuted by Satan and his godless kingdom, this verse has a blessed comfort for us. Being a year closer, and taking note of man's modern inventions, and of the fact that we are clearly approaching the day when all nations of the world will be united into one worldwide kingdom of the Antichrist (and men already are speaking of bringing into being "one world"), we do well to listen to our God, who speaks of His church being graven upon the palms of His hands, that is, that they are constantly and continually before Him and seen by Him.
The point is not merely that He continually sees His church. The comfort is not simply that He has us in His hands as His possession, bought by the blood of Christ. What counts here is what is presented to us inRomans 8:28, namely, that "all, things work together for good to them that love God." With His searching eyes our God sees every member of His eternally chosen church, which is upon the palms of His hands. With those hands the almighty God keeps Satan, and his wicked world, from leading us away from the everlasting blessedness which is pictured by that beautiful city which is graven upon the palms of God's hands.
The walls of the city, which protect us from our enemy, refer to Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who blotted out all of our guilt, and earned for us a place in that city which is graven upon the palms of God's hands.
Taking hold of that blessed truth, which presents such wonderful safety and salvation, we are called to sing what we find in our Psalter, number 35, the fourth stanza. There we read this blessed truth:
From God the victory I receive;
Most perfect is His holy way;
His word is tried, they who believe
Will find the Lord their shield and stay. . .
That song is based on Psalm 18:30-32 where we read: "As for God, his way is perfect: the way of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust him. For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my ways perfect."
Does your heart say that? Because it is Christ Jesus who realized the walls that protect His church, you will find, if you are graven upon the palms of God's hands, a most blessed comfort and peace of mind, that looks for the return of Christ to bring us into that holy city, and unto a blessed fellowship with God.
In His grace our God assures us of a constant and certain safety. For us, all is well indeed. Every word our God declared He would fulfill, He must assuredly will.
Rev. John A. Heys was born on March 16, 1910 in Grand Rapids, MI. He was ordained and installed into the ministry at Hope, Walker, MI in 1941. He later served at Hull, Iowa beginning in 1955. In 1959 he accepted the call to serve the South Holland, IL Protestant Reformed Church. He received and accepted the call to Holland, Michigan Protestant Reformed Church in 1967. He retired from the active ministry in 1980. He entered into glory on February 16, 1998.