God as Mighty Warrior
Isaiah says, Behold, the Lord God comes with might and his arm rules for him. The picture here is one of God as a mighty warrior who fights on behalf of His people. It’s similar to the image we find over in Exodus 14:14, The Lord will fight for you. Moses says this to the Israelites when Pharaoh’s army pursued them to the Red Sea. With their backs to the sea and the army of the world’s greatest nation in hot pursuit, Israel was as good as dead. But God proved His strength by delivering His people from the enemy, parting the waters for Israel before vanquishing the enemy warriors. God always makes a way for His people.
After this deliverance, Moses led the people in worship and this is what they sang: The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name (Exodus 15:3). They sang this song of victory because praise follows promise. Worship is our response to salvation. That makes worship our most vital activity. It’s more vital than work, than child-rearing, than accruing wealth. Like Israel, we were dead until the warrior God fought for us and brought us back to life. Do I worship like a dead man who has been brought back to life? It’s amazing that I can yawn my way through a story like this on most Sunday mornings. Praise follows promise — because our God is faithful. He fights on behalf of His people.
And Isaiah proclaims the same truth here. The prophet wants the people of his own day to know that God has not gone into retirement. He is still able to defeat His enemies and rescue His people. And this is a good word for us as well. Behold your God, church. He has not gone into retirement. He is still the same mighty warrior He was on the banks of the Red Sea. He will always fight for His people.
“Reward” and “recompense” is the language used to describe the plunder of a conquering army. They would come through and claim the conquered people’s land and livestock and possessions. So the picture here is God bringing with Him the spoils of victory. He is able to conquer the spiritual forces that stand against us. Any sin, any temptation, anything in our past — these are part of His spoils. He is mighty to conquer and bring victory.
All of this is summarized by the mighty arm of God. Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him. Isaiah has more to say about “the arm of the Lord” than any other OT prophet. “His arm rules for him” is a way of saying that God doesn’t need to get help from any other being. He rules by right of His own mighty power.
Behold, our God is a mighty warrior.