|But now this is what the Lord says - 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 and you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; The flames will not set you ablaze For I am the Lord your God - the Holy One of Israel I will give Egypt for your ransom; Cush and Seba in your stead." (Isaiah43:1-3)|
How would God speak to them?
- He affirmed their identity. Their circumstances did not define their identity. Nor did the names the Babylonians gave them. Their identity was wrapped up in the One who made them, claimed them, and called them. They had dignity and purpose because God claimed them as His own. Because He was passionate about them!
- He assured them of protection in hardship. He does not promise that there will not be waters, rivers, flames, or fire. He promises that we will not be destroyed. We don't know what purposes the hardships will serve and we don't always understand what we must learn in our struggles, but one truth is as clear as the lighthouse signal on a stormy night: - He is in ultimate control and with His help our problems will not overcome us.
- We are redeemed. He opens the passage with this thought and reinforces it at the end. To be redeemed is to be bought back from slavery. When the Persians defeated the Babylonians and set the Israelites free, they also conquered Cush, Seba, and Egypt. The picture is that God, working in the history of the nations bought Israel back through these conquered nations.
Taken further, this thought leads us to another redemption, where God gave much more than a nation in our stead. He gave His only Son. We are worth very much to Him and even though He allows us to go through hardships, our identity is wrapped up in the designer label that says "Made with loving care by God who created the Universe." And although troubles may surround us, He wants to redeem us - to buy us back from our brokenness. He is so committed to us that He sent Jesus to take the brunt of our pain so that it is He and not us who are broken and He turned His face from His Son so that we could be bought back from sin and never be alone!