November 2018

“I will not forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”
Isaiah 49.15,16 (NIV)

The fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC tested Israel’s faith more profoundly than any other single event in the entire Old Testament period. But Isaiah never regarded it as calling the Lord’s sovereignty into question. Babylon, like Assyria, had a part to play in the drama of history, but it was the Lord who wrote the script. After they had made their exit, He would press other nations, too, into His service.  

The exiles are in captivity in Babylon, brought about by their constant rebellion and their refusal to listen and to understand God’s message. They are complaining bitterly at their predicament and their lament in verse 14 is brief but poignant: “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me”. They have seen their beloved city in ruins. But the Lord has forgiven them and has appointed Cyrus the King of Persia to conquer Babylon and release the Israelites from captivity. God can no more forget His people than a mother can forget the baby at her breast. He has plans for His chosen people and comforts them through the prophet Isaiah saying that “I will not forget you; See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”.    

It was the custom of the Babylonians to tattoo a picture of a god or a special place on their hands as a permanent and indelible reminder to them, so the Israelites would have related this practice to the picture the Lord was giving them.

This month we remember all those millions of men and women who sacrificed their lives in war for their country, and our freedom. We can be comforted by the fact that each and every person who laid down their lives is indelibly engraved on the palms of our Lord’s hands. He will never forget them and the sacrifice they made. 

Whatever obstacles, illness, bereavement, or sorrow we go through in life, we have the complete assurance that God will place His mighty hand upon us, and will strengthen us as He strengthened His people Israel. He will never forget us, because we are engraved on the palms of His hands and can never be erased.  Such is the extravagant nature of our Lord’s love for each one of His people.