What does Isaiah 43:1-7 mean? In Isiah 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?
The passage that you refer to is as follows:
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. When God says that He formed them, 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. Deut. 7:7–8 (NASB)
This passage is not addressed to Christians today. The entire passage is about the nation of Israel.
In verses 2-3 God says that He will protect them as they walk through waters, rivers, fire and flame. He did do this. He protected them as they walked on dry land as they crossed the Red Sea (Ex. 14:21-22) and when they crossed the Jordan River (Joshua 3:14-17). The fire and flame may refer to Daniel’s three friends 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.
In verse 3, God says that He is their Savior. In verse 2 God said that He would protect them and He did. This is the first of many statements that God is a Savior in the book of Isaiah, especially starting with Isaiah 43:11. He has already 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.
A close examination of the verses surrounding the above verses will reveal that God is talking about being Israel’s Savior. For example, just before Isaiah 45:15 we read in verse 14 that the products of Egypt and Cush will come to Israel. God promised in Isaiah 43:3 that both nations will be ransomed 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 protects us from sin and from physical harm.
Verse 4-5 is a reminder of God’s statement in Deut. 7:7-8 and is a repeat of the promise that He is their Savior when He says, “Do not fear, for I am with you . . .”
Verse 6 restates God’s earlier promise that He will gather them back to the land in the last days (Isa. 11:1-12).
Please note that this passage does not directly apply to Christians. The passage reveals God’s character and His character reveals how He will treat any true follower of His. Therefore, Christians can trust that He will be with them in time of trouble (Matt. 28:19-20). Psalm 30:5 is a wonderful promise when He is disciplining us for our sinful and unrepentant behavior.