Isaiah 43:1-2 (ESV)
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.
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.
Isaiah 43 starts with a promise that the God who formed Israel would protect her. It ends with a warning.
Isaiah 43:27-28 (ESV)
Your first father sinned,
and your mediators transgressed against me.
Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary,
and deliver Jacob to utter destruction
and Israel to reviling.
The same God who promised to protect Israel also promised to “deliver Jacob to utter destruction and Israel to reviling” (Is 43:28). The people of God, who had been created and formed by God, could be assured of both his protection and his discipline. Why? Because he is faithful even as they failed to honor him as God. This is not petty selfishness. This is proper honor dues one’s creator. The truth is, this is not just for Israel. It is for all mankind. We have all been created in the image of God, for the purpose of displaying his image through relational and representational care for his creation.
We have failed on all counts. We have failed to pursue relationship with our Creator. We have failed to represent him properly to the rest of creation. We have failed to care for his creation. There are consequences to our failure. Israel’s “first father (Abraham) sinned” (Is 43:27). Our first father (Adam) sinned. Like Israel, we have reviled the God of our creation.
Yet, there is that promise at the beginning of the chapter. It is an amazing promise. “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” (Is 43:2). It reminds me of Daniel’s friends when they were thrown into the fiery furnace but not a trace of smoke clung to their robes when they were released. It reminds me of Daniel in the Lion’s Den when God closed the mouths of the lions and delivered Daniel. I wonder if Daniel and his friends thought of Isaiah’s words as they faced their accusers. Note that there is no promise of not going through fire or flood. But, there is a promise of protection and deliverance.
What fire or flood are you facing today? It may be at the hand of God, in order to draw you back to himself. It may be at the hand of God’s enemies, in an attempt to destroy, distract, or dissuade you from following him. Whatever it is, the Enemy can do no more than the gracious hand of God allows. In the end, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the fire will not burn you, the flood will not sweep you away, and the gracious hand of God will be with you.
You are the testimony to his faithfulness. It may not feel like it at the moment, but it is true. In the face of life’s gravest challenges we are encouraged to fall on our faces before him and worship. For he is worthy, and he promises one more thing, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Is 43:25). Rest in the promise, and worship him.