The Polished Shaft
Roy Hill, Bristol, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
IN ISAIAH CHAPTER 49 there are some delightful pictures of our Lord Jesus
Christ. He is the Servant of Jehovah; the Saviour of the world; the sharp
mouth in His preaching; and the shaft that is polished. These thoughts are
instructive and we do well to appreciate them and learn from them.
The shaft is of course an arrow. The arrow was used for hunting and in
antiquity used in war to great effect whether the archers were on foot or
horseback. It is characterized by swiftness, quietness, power, direction and
It is normally aimed at a specific target and, until needed, is kept in a
quiver carried on the back of the hlmter or soldier. The shaft of the arrow
was made from wood and the tip either from stone or metal.
The Shaft Concealed
Arrows, normally three at a time, are carried in the quiver to keep them
secure until required. The hunter will carry his bow in his hand but the
arrows remain concealed in the quiver until the appropriate time when a
target is identified. It is then taken carefully and with the aid of the bow
sent silently and swiftly to accomplish its task.
In the quiver of God there are not three arrows - only one of its kind. The
Son was 'concealed' for many years, from eternity past. He was unknown
by men, unseen by human eye, yet prepared and ready for the mighty
work of the salvation of men. The target was identified and the Son
despatched to accomplish the work. When the fulness of time was come
God sent forth His son. This was no bow shot at a venture, but a precise
shot which targeted initially the small town of Bethlehem, and therein a
virgin who was to be the means of the incarnation. God was to be manifest
in flesh for the first time (and only time). That which heretofore had been
concealed was now made known. The arrow is useless without the bow
and without the skill of the archer. In the revealing of deity the three
Persons of the Godhead work together to accomplish the task.
The Shaft Polished
The arrow of Isaiah 49 was not just any old arrow - it had been carefully
prepared. Once made, the hunter took it and worked carefully to polish the
tip until it shone. This would make it a sharp and lethal weapon in the right
hands. To be polished implies the thought of being properly finished, i.e.
flawless, faultless and perfect. We rejoice that no fault could be found in
Christ and even closer inspection revealed no flaw. He was perfect in every
respect - impeccable. Further, the word 'polished' implies brightness,
brilliance and radiance - these things were true of Christ.
The word may also be translated 'separated', Lam. 4. 7. The polished
sapphire is a person who is set apart for God. The sapphire is a transparent
blue enabling one to see the excellencies of the stone even below the
surface. Such were the excellencies of Christ. He was polished. There were
no rough edges, nothing incomplete or immature. He was under the
shadow of divine protection and was complete and perfect in every way.
'Altogether lovely' is an apt description of His Person and character. When
He arrived in this world men had never seen the like before. His words
were sharp in dealing with the Pharisees, His actions similarly so, always
hitting the mark and to great effect, as a reading of John's Gospel will show
- He was in every respect a polished shaft. The only Son in the divine
armoury and in these last days God has used Him to speak to us.
The Sure Shaft
We are reassured by the words of scripture that the Lord destroyed him
that had the power of death and delivered us who through the fear of death
were all our lifetime subject to bondage. Often arrows shot by hunters
would miss their mark, or only superficially injure. The 'sure shaft' went to
the heart of the matter. In one fell swoop the enemy was destroyed. There
could be no mistake, the wound inflicted on Satan was absolute. In this we
rejoice! The sure shaft also encourages us to think of the dependability and
faithfulness of Christ. He was tested, tried and found worthy. The archer
used shafts that he could depend on, light, yet strong and straight. None
other than Christ could accomplish the work of salvation. He alone was
able and willing - 'Here am I, send me'. The arrow hit its target - it bruised
the head of Satan and enables all who will to be saved from sin and death.
Shot with unerring accuracy and divine precision the work of salvation
was accomplished. 'I have finished the work', said the Saviour and, in due
course, the last enemy will also be destroyed so that the work will be
complete. Christ has succeeded and with tremendous power and glory yet
also with meekness and in apparent defeat.
The Recovered Shaft
Hunters could not afford to lose arrows and they often had lads whose
task it was to recover them. Great pains were taken over this as we observe
in the story of Absalom and David. On recovery the arrow would be
cleaned and returned to the quiver; once again concealed and ready for reuse
in the on-going battle.
The means of His 'recovery' from the world were divine and nothing
that the enemies of Christ could do could hinder it. He rose again from the
dead, He appeared openly for 40 days and thereafter was received in glory.
The divine Archer was determined that the Polished Shaft should be
recovered. The marks and wounds of battle still appear on His Person, but
He is not belittled by these which were sustained in the house of friends.
'Whence are these wounds?'I are words asked and throughout eternity
these wounds of the freshly slain Lamb will be apparent to all.
Christ has indeed returned to glory, but He will never need to do the
work again. What He has accomplished is once for all. He will not always
be concealed either. The day will come when His beauty will be manifest
and together we shall enjoy the wonder and glory of The Polished Shaft.