Summary: Making mention of the past kindnesses of the Lord.
IN ALL OUR AFFLICTIONS HE IS AFFLICTED
When we pray for the Lord’s people today, we should remember past mercies - mercies which are ‘new every morning’ (Lamentations 3:22-23). Similarly, as we look at Biblical and subsequent Church history, we should recollect the great deeds of the Holy Spirit through His servants, past and present. Neither should we forget our own experience of the Lord’s goodness.
The first motive in prayer is that God might be glorified. The prophet acknowledges the steadfast love of the LORD as seen in His gracious deeds, great goodness, and favour towards the house of Israel (Isaiah 63:7). The Church should acknowledge our deep indebtedness to ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ for our many spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3).
The prayer which begins in Isaiah 63:7 - and continues all the way to the end of the following chapter - recalls the past kindnesses of the LORD (Isaiah 63:7). Israel already knew the LORD as the One who had delivered them out of Egypt, who had parted the Red Sea (Isaiah 63:12), and led His people to their rest (Isaiah 63:14). The Church should recall the great deliverance which He has wrought on our behalf through the Cross of Jesus (cf. Luke 9:30-31).
The context of this prayer arises from the fury of the LORD against His, and Israel’s, enemies (Isaiah 63:1-6). When He looked for someone to help, there was none, so His own arm brought salvation (Isaiah 63:5; cf. Psalm 98:1). Surely there is a reference here to the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 52:10): He also ‘trod the wine-press alone’ (Isaiah 63:3) when He vanquished our spiritual enemies, making an open show of them (Colossians 2:15).
Isaiah reflects on the saving act whereby the LORD gathered His children, and became a Saviour to them (Isaiah 63:8). ‘Jesus’ is so named ‘because He will save His people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21). The Saviour of the world is come.
The LORD sees Israel as His people, and therefore “children that will not lie” (Isaiah 63:8). This is forensic, and anticipates His gracious attitude towards His Christian people. We are ‘made righteous’ by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:9).
The day of vengeance is also the year of His redeemed (Isaiah 63:4). This seems to link the redemption of Israel out of Egypt, to the Cross of Jesus Christ, via the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10). In His love and pity He redeemed us (Isaiah 63:9).
The idea of the LORD lifting up, bearing, and carrying His people (Isaiah 63:9) echoes the birthing and carrying of the remnant (Isaiah 46:3-4). Has the Lord not also brought us to new life in the Lord Jesus Christ, and has He not carried us ever since through all the trials and challenges of life? In all our affliction He is afflicted, and it is His own presence which saves us (Isaiah 63:9; cf. Matthew 28:20).