Summary: God’s favor and good-will to his people speak abundant comfort to all believers. All who are redeemed with the blood of his Son, he has set apart for himself. Those that have God for them need not fear who or what can be against them. True believers are p
Opening illustration: I’ll never forget my first experience using an automatic car wash. Approaching it with the dread of going to the dentist, I pushed the money into the slot, nervously checked and rechecked my windows, eased the car up to the line, and waited. Powers beyond my control began moving my car forward as if on a conveyor belt. There I was, cocooned inside, when a thunderous rush of water, soap, and brushes hit my car from all directions. What if I get stuck in here or water crashes in? I thought irrationally. Suddenly the waters ceased. After a blow-dry, my car was propelled into the outside world again, clean and polished.
In the midst of all this, I remembered stormy times in my life when it seemed I was on a conveyor belt, a victim of forces beyond my control. “Car-wash experiences,” I now call them. I remembered that whenever I passed through deep waters my Redeemer had been with me, sheltering me against the rising tide (Isaiah 43: 2). When I came out on the other side, which I always did, I was able to say with joy and confidence, “He is a faithful God!”
Let us turn to Isaiah 43 and catch up with God’s promise for His people and check it out to see how it applies to us today.
Introduction: God’s favor and good-will to his people speak abundant comfort to all believers. The new creature, wherever it is, is of God’s forming. All who are redeemed with the blood of his Son, he has set apart for himself. Those that have God for them need not fear who or what can be against them. What are Egypt and Ethiopia, all their lives and treasures, compared with the blood of Christ? True believers are precious in God’s sight; his delight is in them, above any people. Though they went as through fire and water, yet, while they had God with them, they need fear no evil; they should be born up, and brought out. The faithful are encouraged. They were to be assembled from every quarter. And with this pleasing object in view, the prophet again dissuades from anxious fears.
What are the promises for God’s people?
1. Redemptive protection (vs. 1 – 2)
The opening statement lays the foundation of the Word of promise by affirming that this is the nation that God had formed. The language is covenantal: You are mine. The epithets that the prophet uses for God refer to the historical act of the foundation of the nation at Sinai - but the terms are creational. The expression “he who created you” (bora’aka) uses the main word for creation (bara’), a term that means to fashion or refashion something into a new and perfect creation. It can have the idea of renewal or transformation. In the biblical texts only God is the subject of this verb. So the formation of the Israelites into a nation, the people of God, is being called a creation. Likewise, Paul uses creation terminology for our salvation in the New Testament. The second epithet is “he who formed you” (yotserka). This word (yatsar) means to form or fashion something by design, a plan, a blueprint (Genesis 2: 7). It is the word for an artist - the participle is the Hebrew word “potter.” So the expression says that God is the creator of the nation, and that His creation is by design.
The main reason for the call to cast away fear in this verse is the expression “for I have redeemed you.” This verb is a little different from other words in the Bible that we translate “redeem”; this is the kinsman redeemer or avenger, the one who makes things right - pays debts, avenges death, judges the enemy, rescues the poor and needy, or marries the widow. The key idea seems to be “protect” - the family and various other institutions. When the verb describes the LORD’s activity, it usually always means judging the nations to deliver the people from bondage; in New Covenant passages it is eschatological. I would take the verb here to be prophetic perfect (or at least a perfect of resolve), for this is what He was about to do. Finally, the idea of “called you by name” is a reference to both creation and election. God chose His people, and by calling them by name exercised His sovereignty over them (compare other “naming” passages). In fact, the idiom of naming in the Babylonian account of creation represents creating. So the point of the first verse is clear: Israel belongs to God because He formed them into a nation in the first place and now will deliver them from bondage to Himself.
God uses some bold figures to express divine protection. Water is used for invasions and exiles in the prophets (we saw it already in Isaiah 8 with the water flooding up to Jerusalem); and fire is used for purging persecutions that come upon the people. All the imagery here is implied comparison. God did not say that by being His chosen people, neither the Israelites, nor we would be given the privilege not to go through tough times. He says, ‘When you go through …’ The implication is that we will surely go through tough times (whether we like it or not), but in all that we will have the privilege of God’s protect no matter what we go through. This privilege is not available to all, except His people. Amen!