VI.A.3 He Humbled Himself



Article 3 –  He Humbled Himself.

By Daniel Irving

a.  The Worm; The Role of Man in Redemption

In conveying the work of redemption, the prophecy of Isaiah sets man’s role in perspective in relation to that of God’s:

“Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”       Is. 41:14

This perspective of the worm was apprehended first by Job who prophesied:

I have said to corruption, ‘Thou art my father’; the worm, ‘Thou art my mother, and my sister.’                           Job 17:14

Further in the book of Job we read:

How then can man be justified with God?  Or how can he be clean that is born of woman?   Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in His sight,  How much less man, that is a worm? And the son of man, which is a worm!                                     Job 25:4-6

Job’s sufferings demonstrated the pitiable condition of man when entering into the judgments of God.  If even the moon and stars have no brightness in relation to God, how then does man compare in His sight?  Can man be anything more than a “worm” in respect to His judgments so as to have any hope beyond the grave?  He is likened to a worm.  In respect to things above he is unworthy and detestable.  In this knowledge Job pleads with God to remove His gaze from him that his condition not be exposed to light.  Job had no answer nor hope for an answer to God; but for a hope conditioned upon faith.  For in spite of his complaints, he prophesies:

For I know that my redeemer liveth, & that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:                             Job 19:25

And here was the answer for Job!  His Redeemer would one day walk upon the earth; Himself as a man!   Therefore through the prophet Isaiah God calls to the fore Job’s analogy of himself as a “worm”.  Yes, you are a worm.  In this there is agreement.  But God adds His word of hope; ‘“I will help you,” declares the Lord.

b.  God Assuming Like-Form with Man                                               

God declares to the worm He is engaging in redemption’s process; “I will help you”.  How He is to do this is suggested in the phrase of Isaiah’s prophecy following reference to the worm:

“. . . you men of Israel;  I will help you”, declares the Lord.             Is. 41:14

There is help for the worm.  For this is the estate unto which God humbled Himself as Creator of all things.  The prophecy concerning Messiah reads:

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, & despised of the people.  All they that see me laugh me to scorn; They shoot out the lip & shake their head, saying “He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.                Ps. 22:6-8

Who is this worm?  Him Who assumed our humanity; the Lord, Jesus Christ.  God assumed the place of lowly man in order to turn the weakness of man into the strength of God.

. . who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.                                               Phil 2:6-8

God tells His elect “I will help you.”  He calls Jacob a “worm”, and Job anguishedly professes this is all that he amounts to in the light of God’s judgments.  Yet this is the form that God assumed when He took upon Himself flesh and came to us in the Person of Christ.

c.  Christ Coming in the Person of the Holy Ghost

When considering why it was necessary for Christ to assume flesh we normally focus upon the necessity of a sacrificial atonement for mankind’s sin in the offering of His flesh, without considering the extension of this principle; the power of God to effectuate repentance and sanctification through the means of this eternal truth that comes to us in the Person of the Holy Ghost.  C. S. Lewis writes well on this aspect of the incarnation:

This process of surrender-this movement full speed astern-is what Christians call repentance.  Now repentance is no fun at all . . . It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.  In fact, it needs a good man to repent.  And here comes the catch.  Only a bad person needs to repent; only a good person can repent perfectly.  The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it.  The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person-and he would not need it. . . . Can we do it if God helps us?  Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us?  We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak.  He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think; He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. . . . But supposing God became a man-suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person-then that person could help us.  He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God.  You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes a man.  Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God’s dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence; but we cannot share God’s dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man.  That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all.[1]

Paul understood this powerful relationship between weakness and the power of God quite well, for when he entreated the Lord for the removal of the “thorn in the flesh”,[2] the Lord told him that His grace was sufficient for him, and that His “power is perfected in weakness.”[3]  Therefore it becomes easy to see why Paul endured the trials he did.[4]  He knew that the secret of God’s power was “the worm”, ie. that lowly place of man which Christ assumed in order to redeem men.  Therefore Paul writes:

Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknessesthat the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.                                               II Cor. 12:9-10

Such is the paradox presented by the mystery of the gospel of Christ!  God, Who will not give His glory to another, has provided that His glory should rest upon “the worm”.  The glory of the Spirit of God bestowed upon the base and the affflicted of humanity!  This is the place of the cross.

For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God.                                                          II Cor. 13:4

God identifies those to whom He is speaking as; “you men of Israel.”  God is telling His people not to fear what is coming.  As His covenant begins to be established and the kingdom of God begins to encroach upon our normal experiences of life and the natural order of this world, this will bring upon us many things that we are apt to fear and so would bring us into danger of withdrawing from this work of faith.  But we are solemnly warned against withdrawing from the things of God:

 ‘BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.’  But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction,  but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.   Heb. 10:38-39

While the promises of prophecy belong exclusively to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, Christ Himself is to become our life.  Through the agency of His Spirit we are joined eternally into God.

Who is this person nominated; “My righteous one”?   Ultimately, not the one who would shrink back!  For the “righteous One” lives only through the means of faith!  The “righteous One” is Christ of Whom Paul refers when he writes:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,  who loved me, and gave himself for me.        Gal. 2:20

There is only one “righteous One”.[5] ie. “Jesus Christ, the righteous”.[6]  How does this “righteous one” live?  According to Paul, He lives within the believer by means of “faith”.  Therefore while the promises are directed exclusively to Christ, His elect become co-heirs to the promises.  Therefore Paul writes:

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;   if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.      Rom. 8:17

Therefore the promises of God are brought to “you men of Israel” through faith in Jesus Christ upon whom all the promises of God are made.  Thus the prophecy of Isaiah springs to life!

“Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”              Is. 41:14

[1] Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis, Chapter 4 The Perfect Penitent.

[2] II Corinthians 12:7

[3] II Corinthians 12:9

[4] Paul makes list of his trials at II Corinthians 11:23-28.

[5] Mat 19:17  “Why callest thou me good?  There is none good but one, that is God.”

[6] I John 2:1


About Lamp-Stand

I was converted to the faith of Jesus Christ in 1982 at which time I received water baptism and Spirit baptism. In the Spring of 2008 I was led of the Spirit through a process of repentance upon which I had an encounter with Christ that worked a profound change upon my inner being. I became aware that I had been forgiven a great debt of sin. I soon felt the Lord's direction that I close my office that my energies not be divided from the study of doctrine.
This entry was posted in 6A. MESSIAH - HEAD; THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST (Transitional Aspects) and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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