In the verse, “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands” (Isa 49:16), there is an allusion to the ancient custom of puncturing ornamental figures and mementoes upon the hand, and coloring the punctures with indigo. In this figurative way of God expressing His love for His people, the Lord is in essence saying, that He will never forget His children. They are inscribed (engraved) upon the palms of His hands so that they will always be in His sight and kept as an everlasting remembrance.
This expression is referring to a custom among the Jews who actually tattooed their hands or arms with inscriptions and paintings the Temple, thus they would always remember the Temple of God by looking at their hands. This view was called “ensigns of Jerusalem” and was performed like this:
The inscriber would have an impression of the Temple on a block of wood. He would then take two needles tied close together, and would dip it time after time in ink. They would make small punctures in the hands accurately all along the lines of the figure they have printed. After that they would wash it in wine to finish the job.
Isaiah 49 is clearly a prophetic book foretelling of the coming of the Messiah. I am going to only concentrate on verses 1-2, verse 6, and 15-18 for the purpose of the piece, but the chapter in its entirety is a wonderful piece of prophecy about the coming of Jesus our Lord as the Messiah. We are going to look and see the prophecy concerning the nail prints (scars) in Jesus’ hand and the special significance as they pertain to you and me in the Body of Christ.
Isaiah 49:1-2 Listen to me, you coastlands; hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth He has made mention of my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of His hand He hid me; He made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver.
Let me break this down this prophecy for you. Listen to Me you coastlands Christ commands the coastlands –all the distant lands of the Gentiles – to listen to Him. The Lord has called Me from the womb: The Messiah, later revealed as Jesus Christ, was called from the womb. Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth He has made mention of my name. This was fulfilled in Luke 1:31, where God, through the angel Gabriel, declared the name of Jesus before the conception in Mary’s womb. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword: This piece was very prophetic as the very words of the Messiah have all power and all authority. Man needs a weapon to show their authority, Jesus needs only to speak. In the shadow of His hand He hid me; He made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver: This piece of prophecy correctly shows that Jesus the Messiah is like a carefully made and polished arrow in the service of the Lord, ready to be used at the right time. This refers to the younger years of Jesus, when He lived in obscurity, as a polished arrow waiting in the quiver of the Lord.
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
To restore the tribes of Jacob This shows that an important aspect of the Messiah’s mission was to bring Israel back to the Lord. Israel has forever a place in God’s plan, and that plan will be fulfilled (Romans 11:26) I will also make you a light for the Gentiles: Though part of Jesus’ mission is directed to Israel, He also has a mission to the Gentiles. What does this passage say that the Messiah do for the Gentiles? It says that He will be God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. This shows that Jesus would not simply bring salvation; He would be salvation to all the ends of the earth.
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast: This scripture refers to a nursing child. You and I both know that a woman will never forget her nursing child. Yet the Lord says, Though she may forget, I will not forget you! What tremendous love our Lord has for us. His affection for His children is greater than the devotion a mother has for her nursing child; that is tremendous love
See, I have engraved your name on the palms of my hands; When I read this and understood it, I literally jumped out of my seat, got my wife on the phone and proceeded to tell her what this piece of prophecy was referring to. I was excited. It is obvious what God is saying in this piece of scripture. This piece of Isaiah’s prophecy became beautiful fulfillment in the wonderful life-giving nail-scarred hands of my Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ. One only has to go to John 20:27 and here Jesus speak these words to Thomas after He arose from the grave. Jesus said to Thomas “Look at My hands”. When we will see the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, we will see the scars where the nails once were, and we will see where He has engraved our names on the palms of His hands. Even now through the words of Isaiah in prophecy our Lord invites us to see; He says to us, “Look at your name engraved in the palm of my hands”. That should make you want to jump out of your seat and rejoice.
The scars have remained as a Testament of His love, ands He carries the names of the Redeemed on His hands. Even as ancient Israel put engravings called “ensigns of Jerusalem” on their hands to remember the Temple, we are inscribed (engraved) upon the palms of His hands so that we will always be in His sight and kept as an everlasting remembrance, as we are the new Temple of our Lord Jesus Christ, built with His blood.
What love, what an honor, what a privilege to have our names not only written in The Lambs book of Life, but also upon the scars that bear the symbols of the ultimate sacrifice our Lord paid that we might be redeemed by His Blood. Even The wounds in Christ’s hands (palms) that He received as a result of being crucified send a clear message that He cherishes and loves those (you and I) for whom he suffered and died, and His remembrance of us is engraved upon the scars in His hands. I cannot wait to thank him and touch those nail scarred hands that suffered and bore the body of our Savior that gave us our salvation upon the cross.