Bible Question:

What does Isaiah 43:1-7 mean? In Isaiah 43: 1-7 God assures us that He will redeem us when we pass through difficulties and the difficulties as given in that chapter: water, river,) fire and flames of fire. How is water, river, fire and flames of fire a problem since most of the writings do not refer to them as problems?

Bible Answer:

What does Isaiah 43:1-7 mean?

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you,
I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
And gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring My sons from afar
And My daughters from the ends of the earth,
Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” Isaiah 43:1-7 (NASB)

The first important fact about this passage is that it is not addressed to Christians today but to the nation of Israel. The name Jacob and Israel are used interchangeably in Scripture. God had renamed Jacob as Israel in Genesis 32:28 and then the two names were often used together or separately (Genesis 46:5; Numbers 24:5; Psalm 135:4).

Passage Is Addressed To Israel

When God says that He formed Israel, He is speaking figuratively because in Deuteronomy 7:7-8 He said that He had chosen them.

The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Deuteronomy 7:7–8 (NASB)

This was God’s sovereign decision. He alone made the choice and then later in verse 20 called Israel His chosen people (Israel 43:20). The entire passage is about the nation of Israel.

God Will Protect Israel

In verse 2 God says that He will protect them as they walk through waters, rivers, fire and flame and He did do this. He protected them as they walked on dry land as they crossed the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-22) and when they crossed the Jordan River (Joshua 3:14-17). The reference to fire and flame may refer to Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:16-25) or to some other event that is not recorded in the Old Testament. These figures of speech refer to God’s protection of His people.

The Holy One of Israel, Your Savior

In verse 3, God says that He is the Holy One of Israel and Israel’s Savior. This is the first of many statements in the book of Isaiah which state God is a Savior, especially starting with Isaiah 43:11. He was the Savior of the nation in the sense that He protected them. He had rescued Israel from the Egyptians. God was and is Israel’s rescuer. He repeats the fact that He is a Savior in Isaiah 43:11; 45:15, 21; 49:26; 60:16 and 63:8, but the word Savior has a spiritual sense in these passages.

A close examination of the verses surrounding verse 3 reveals that God reminded Israel that He is Israel’s Savior. For example, later in Isaiah 45:14 God promised that the products of Egypt and Cush would come to Israel and then in verse 15 we read,

O God of Israel, Savior! Isaiah 45:15 (NASB)

In Isaiah 43:3 God promised that Egypt and Cush would be their ransom and in verse 14 He repeats the promise. God referred to Himself as a Savior in the Old Testament before Jesus arrived and became our Savior to forgive our sins. God is a Savior when He forgives our sins and saves us from physical harm.

God Will Exalt The Nation

Verse 4-5 is a reminder of God’s statement in Deuteronomy 7:7-8 where He states that He loves them. God prefers Israel as a nation. He reminds them He is their Savior when He says, “Do not fear, for I am with you . . .” The Hebrew tense of the word “fear” means that they do not need to live in repeated fear. Yes, troubles may come but they should trust Him.

Verse 6 does not say why Israel was scattered to other nations. But the book of Isaiah warned the nation of Israel of coming judgment because of their sin. They had abandoned the worship of God and indulged in gross sins. They refused to repent at the preaching of the prophets. Consequently, Isaiah 13 prophesied the coming invasion and conquest by the Assyrian Empire. As a result, the nation was scattered into other countries.

But God promised that He would not abandon them, and would gather them back to the land in the last days (Isaiah 11:1-12). Israel is God’s Chosen People.

Conclusion:

Please note that this passage does not directly apply to Christians. The passage reveals God’s character and His character determines how He will treat any true follower, whether it is the nation of Israel or a Christian. Therefore, Christians can trust that He will be with them in time of trouble (Matthew 28:19-20). Psalm 30:5 is also a wonderful promise to be remembered when He is disciplining us when we sin.

Suggested Links:

Searching For God
Is Isaiah 29:12 about judgment on Jerusalem?
Jerusalem – The Focus of the World
Who is a Jew according to the Bible?
Who are the twelve tribes in James 1:1?
What does the Bible say about the tribe of Dan?
Why did God hate Esau?