1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
5 Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the
6 I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
8 Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
9 All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
and let them hear and say, It is true.
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
nor shall there be any after me.
11 I, I am the Lord,
12 I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God.
13 Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?” – Isaiah 43:1-13 ESV
This chapter brings a powerful message of assurance and comfort to the people of God. In spite of their spiritual blindness and deafness, He is going to save them. The very one who called them and ransomed them from slavery in Egypt is going to rescue them once again.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.” – Isaiah 43:1 ESV
They belonged to God and, as His possession, they were under His divine protection. But that did not mean they were going to escape the punishment that they deserved. God was still going to bring His hand of discipline upon them, but He would never abandon them.
“When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:2 NLT
This may have come across as less than good news to the people of Judah. They would have preferred immediate deliverance and a guarantee of no difficulties whatsoever. But God could not and would not disregard their sins against Him. He is a righteous and holy God who is obligated by His own character to deal justly with sin. But, He is also the gracious, covenant-keeping God, who never fails to fulfill each and every promise He has made to His people.
Generations earlier, God had told Abraham, the father of the Hebrew people, that his descendants would end up as slaves in a foreign country. But He also promised Abraham that He would redeem them and return them to the land of Canaan.
“You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the
When God finally rescued the people of Israel and they were standing on the brink of entering the land of promise, God had given a sobering message to Moses, their leader.
“You are about to die and join your ancestors. After you are gone, these people will begin to worship foreign gods, the gods of the land where they are going. They will abandon me and break
After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, a divine punishment for their refusal to enter the land the first time they arrived at its borders, God had announced that they would still prove rebellious. And the book of Isaiah has provided ample proof of that rebellion. And the truly amazing thing about this situation in which the people of Judah find themselves is that they had failed to recognize all that God had done for them.
“Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.” – Isaiah 43:4 NLT
This verse speaks of the substitutionary atonement that was a major part of the Jewish sacrificial system. God ransomed the people through the death of another. In Egypt, God had sacrificed the lives of all the firstborn of Egypt, in order to purchase the freedom of the people of Israel.
God’s redemption of the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt had required a sacrifice. And it was because of the deaths of all the firstborn in Egypt that Pharaoh had finally relented and released the people of Israel.
God is reminding His people that He has the power to redeem. Even though they face defeat at the hands of the Babylonians, God is able to rescue and restore them. So, they have no reason to fear.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
I will gather you and your children from
I will say to the north and south,
‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
from the distant corners of the earth.” – Isaiah 43:4:5-6 NLT
Once again, God is promising to bring His people back from slavery. There is no distance too great or pagan power too powerful to prevent God from keeping His covenant promise.
Returning to the imagery of a courtroom, God calls on the nations of the world to come before Him and testify whether their idols can match His ability to predict the future and bring it about.
“Gather the nations together!
Assemble the peoples of the world!
Which of their idols has ever foretold such things?
Which can predict what will happen tomorrow?
Where are the witnesses of such predictions?
Who can verify that they spoke the truth?” – Isaiah 43:9 NLT
This little vignette is intended to remind the people of Judah that their God is incomparable and without equal. And, if anybody should have understood that reality, it was the chosen people of God Almighty.
“You are my servant.
You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,
and understand that I alone am God.
There is no other God—
there never has been, and there never will be.” – Isaiah 43:10 NLT
There is no other God. And, as verse 11 states: There is no other savior. God alone was going to be the one to rescue and redeem the people of Judah. They could turn to Egypt or put their hopes in one of their false gods, but they would only end up disappointed. Their hope had to rest in God alone. And God reminds them that “You are witnesses that I am the only God” (Isaiah 43:12 NLT). They had seen God work, time and time again. Their ancestors had been rescued from slavery in Egypt. In accomplishing His rescue of them, God had defeated all the false gods of the Egyptians. And, when the people of God had begun their conquest of the land of Canaan, God had given them victory after victory over the nations living in the land, proving Himself greater than the false gods of their enemies.
And, God closes His address to His people with the reassuring words:
“From eternity to eternity I am God.
No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
No one can undo what I have done.” – Isaiah 43:13 NLT
Yes, the future appeared bleak. God had foretold the coming invasion of the Babylonians and the fall of Jerusalem. But He was God. And He had a plan. Their defeat and deportation would be followed by His redemption and rescue. He had done it before and He could do it again. He had returned the people to the land after 400 years of captivity in Egypt and He was return them to the land after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. They were His possession and no one could snatch them from His hand. He was in control. He was sovereign over all. And He wanted His people to know that they had no other savior, but Him.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.