The Man from Bozrah

We love to think of Jesus as our Shepherd, our Redeemer, our Friend — and so we should, for so He is for all who repent and believe.

But Jesus has other titles that, if we are honest, we aren’t as excited about. In fact, it’s downright jarring to read about His indignation, fierce anger, and judgment. Who is this? We don’t recognize this Jesus.

As Mary Ann and I have read through the New Testament, the beauty of God’s mercy on the repentant is everywhere seen. But there is also judgment on the wicked — what to do with that? A devotional that our church went through in 2006 first pointed out to me the importance of embracing the beauty of our Lord’s righteous judgments. How many times since then my mind has gone back to the Man from Bozrah walking toward us with bloodstained robes — to wonder, and to worship.

Do we really want to know Him? In all His fullness? Or are we content to daydream about Jesus the pretty boy from Galilee.

Here is that devotional.

DAY 48 Read Isaiah 63:1-19


Who is this who comes from Edom,
in crimsoned garments from Bozrah?
Isaiah 63:1

When my two daughters were little they loved a movie called The Man from Snowy River. It was a nice family film about a handsome boy “down under,” a magnificent horse, and a young lady–it was a love story with a lot of great horse stunts in it! My girls thought the young cowboy was just “dreamy.” It was a delight for me to watch them grow older, choose boys to date, and marry two godly young men. A few years ago, when they were all home for a visit, I got out the sequel, Return of the Man from Snowy River. (Yep! That’s the real, unoriginal title!) As we watched it together Joanna said to Abigail, “Can you believe we once thought that guy was handsome?” Abigail denied she had ever done so! (But she had…shhhh!)

In our text today Isaiah speaks of another hero, another “dreamy” figure: The Man from Bozrah. This is a wonderful picture of Jesus Christ, the one John Gerstner used to call “the Hero of it all.” Here Jesus is seen for who He really is, loved for what He really does, and kept central in the heart and life of His Church.

Isaiah’s first picture of Christ (63:1-6) is in the imagery of the revengeful man of Bozrah. His garments are bloodstained. He has trodden the winepress alone…I trod them in my anger (v. 3). His day of vengeance has come and he “judges the living and the dead.” He tramples down the peoples and nations who reject his costly redemption.

Isaiah’s second picture of Christ naturally flows out of the first (63:7-14). Here is the redeeming man from Bozrah: I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord (v. 7). The word Isaiah uses is chesed. We have no equivalent in our English vocabulary. We need a phrase to render this word justly: “covenant love and loyalty.” Isaiah speaks of Christ’s union with His people. He suffers for them and with them, carries them when they are weak, disciplines them, and revives them with His Spirit. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name (v. 14).

Finally Isaiah sees the man from Bozrah as the reviving Christ (63:15-19). He prays to the man from Bozrah to take away their hardened hearts and to restore unto them the fear of the Lord (v. 17). The Redeemer from of old (v.16) is now the Reviver of what needs to be renewed!

As the Bride of Christ matures she outgrows her “dreamy” image of Jesus–the pretty boy. She comes to admire His righteous judgments, His redemptive loyalty, and His reviving love. As she prepares to receive revival she longs for a deeper, more realistic and more intimate union with Christ. She says to herself, “I can’t believe we actually liked the old, romantic idea of Christ!” And she turns to embrace the man from Bozrah walking toward her with bloodstained robes. She falls in love with Jesus all over again when she sees Him who is splendid in his apparel marching in the greatness of his strength (v. 1).

(From “Revive Us Again” published 2006 by the Presbyterian church in America, and used by permission of the author, Dr. Michael F. Ross. All rights reserved.)

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