THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
The LORD is the Gracious Redeemer
Isaiah 43:1-13 SCC 10/20/13
We are to be filled with confidence that God will keep His Word and deliver us from the bondage of the world. Such hope casts out fear. But our confidence in the promises is only as strong as our knowledge of the LORD. Our confidence is inspired by knowledge. God wants us to know and believe that in spite of our affairs in the world, there is the promise of deliverance. Do not despair. Look, even in the midst of the consequences of your own doing, God will stay true to these promises. That does not take away the consequences of our sinful worldliness and unbelief but when we see our way back to honesty and transparency, we will see the deliverance the Lord promises.
There is no need to fear since God will redeem His people from the world 43:1-7
God will redeem His people by ransom 1-4
Verse 1: The Lord called His people not to fear, even though they were blind, deaf, and suffering for their sins. God had created the nation with painstaking care, had redeemed it in the Exodus, and adopted it as His special treasure at Mount Sinai. His acts for her, not her acts against Him, guaranteed her future. So the formation of the Israelites into a nation, the people of God, is being called a creation. So the expression says that God is the creator of the nation, and that His creation is by design. So the point of the first verse is clear: Israel belongs to God because He formed her into a nation in the first place and now will deliver her from bondage to Himself.
Verse 2: Here are some bold figures to express divine protection. Water is used for invasions and exiles in the prophets and fire is used for purging persecutions that come upon the people. All the imagery means that God will protect His people. God promised to protect His people from total destruction when they underwent their various trials. There has always been a remnant to survive and so in the end as well.
Verse 3: begins to spell out the promise of the rescue from captivity. First, the self-revelation of the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, adds the epithet "your savior". In this passage it refers to a deliverance from bondage, and so is essentially political, although this deliverance includes the fact that sin was the reason for the exile. So it is a physical-spiritual deliverance. Second, the word for "your ransom" means God will set His people free from bondage--at the expense of the oppressors. So their destruction will be the ransom price--the exchange given to set Israel free. God would even sacrifice other nations to preserve Israel for Himself. In another larger sense, God sacrificed His Son as a ransom in the place of many whom He had called to Himself.
Verse 4: The deliverance is because Israel is precious (and honored) in God's sight. They are highly valued because rare--the chosen people. The main motive for the deliverance is "because I love you". The term for love conveys the idea of choosing spontaneously. Other words for love will stress the covenant loyalty that God has for His people; but this one indicates how and that He chose them and His love for them remains constant. The Lord would sacrifice other nations for Israel because of what the Israelites were to Him, in spite of themselves, as well as because of what He was to them. So God is committed to His people!
God will gather His people from the world 5-7
Verse 5-6: repeats the caution "Do not fear." The promise of divine presence (meaning God will intervene for protection and provision) is the basis for the comfort. God says that He will re-gather His people from all over the world. Not all of the exiled people went to Babylon--they were scattered. But as the Creator, God will speak to the north, south, east, and west, and the world will give up His people from afar and from the ends of the earth! Worldwide scattering would not prevent Him from fulfilling His promises and giving them a future in the Promised Land. He would reassemble His sons and daughters from the ends of the earth. Return from Babylonian captivity would not be from the four compass points and so does not qualify as the complete fulfillment. So He will do this when Jesus Christ returns to the earth.
In verse 7: we discover that with the repetition of the creation theme that God's purpose for Israel was "for my glory." Likewise, in the New Testament Christ always did things that the Father might be glorified. And He will not let the sins of the people rob Him of His name and steal His glory. We could say that the verse means that God's establishment of a covenant people has as its purpose that God might be seen throughout the world, for "glory" means an enhanced reputation for the Lord, honor to Him. Everything He does is for that purpose, for all glory given to Him will attract many more to the Kingdom. What qualifies these people for such treatment is their relationship to The Lord. They are called by His name and are, therefore, part of His family. Furthermore, God brought them into existence to glorify Himself. Their condition reflects on Him, and unless He restores them they cannot fulfill His purpose for them in the world.
The Lord is able to deliver His people because He alone is the sovereign Lord God 43:8-13
God calls witnesses for and against His claim 8-9
Verse 8: The setting of this section is a court scene to determine the veracity of the claims of the Lord. Witnesses are called on both sides of the case to see what the evidence will be. From the use of the terms for "blindness" and "deafness" used earlier and elsewhere for Israel, we would conclude that verse 8 is a call for the disobedient and sinful nation to witness God's gracious provision—blindness and deafness compared to disobedience and spiritual ignorance. The prophet was summoning them so God could address them (v. 10) as His witnesses. Imagine calling blind and deaf people as witnesses in a court of law! Yet the Lord would use even them to testify to His greatness. The captive Jews would, despite their spiritual blindness and deafness, give witness to His ability to predict their salvation and to accomplish it.
Verse 9: Isaiah pictured all the nations in this courtroom. Some had already assembled, and others were on their way. Who among them, the prophet asked, could proclaim former things? No one among the nations, none of their gods, could predict the future and then bring it into existence. Only the Lord could do this.
Powerful acts can be attributed to deities or kings; but predicting them is quite another matter. God is on one side; all other powers on the other. Who in truth is the sovereign Lord? These witnesses will have to step forward and give their credentials or finally admit the truth of the Lord’s claims “it is true”.
God’s claim of absolute sovereignty stands 10-13
Verse 10: "You are my witnesses." Israel is here addressed as the chosen servant of the LORD. But believers do not always like the idea of being chosen, nor do they like the idea of being servants. But if God is God, they must be both servants and chosen. If we chose God and He is our servant then He is not much of a God. The focus on the purpose of this election--that they might know and believe that "I am He." I am the One. There is no one else. Who else matters? I am the sovereign Lord who has no rivals. This point is expanded with "there is no god before or after me" –while theologians are busying themselves trying to "re-image" God, and in the process making God a god and not the only God. The LORD God Himself lays down the challenge--where are the rivals? The Lord pointed to the people of Israel, His servant, as those who would be His witnesses that he could predict the future and bring it to pass.
Verse 11: repeats and adds to this: "I, even I, am the LORD, there is no Savior apart from me." Now the personal, covenantal name is put in place of the pronoun "He," and the epithet "Savior" is added to the exclusive statement. No religion in the ancient or modern world made such claims to exclusivity and salvation. There is only one God; and there is only one Savior—the Lord. God alone, among all the “gods,” is the only real deliverer, the one who knows the future, and the sovereign. He is unique. None of the idols was the Lord. The Israelites could bear witness to that, but they were blind and deaf. Therefore the Lord had to testify in His own behalf.
Verse 12: The LORD alone, not a foreign god, was able to proclaim and declare in addition to save. These verses will affirm that the LORD is the only true God, always has been, always will be. And He is completely sovereign. No one can deliver out of His hand, and no one can make Him change His plans. One can only trust the LORD, certainly not rebel against Him.
Verse 13: The Lord was the only God from the very beginning. Since He is the only deliverer, no other god can deliver people from His hand or overrule His decisions. It was foolish, then, for the Israelites, as it is for all God’s people, to look to anyone or anything else for salvation. So deliverance comes from Him; judgment also comes from Him. Here is a message for the people of God not to fear the circumstances of life because the LORD is about to redeem them in fulfillment of His promises. He is fully able to do this because He is the sovereign Lord of the universe, as everyone will attest.
1. Jesus Christ is the sovereign Lord of creation, the great I AM, the only Savior. He has made promises to us, and those include ultimate redemption from the bondage of this world and transference to His Father's House.
2. As a result we should not fear, for He has overcome the world. So Christians should be strong in the faith, evaluate everything in line with eternal principles, and look forward in expectation to the great deliverance.
3. Meditate on the nature of your God. He formed you. He redeemed you. You are precious in his sight. You are honored and he loves you. He will do what is good for you. He will protect you. Live confidently in this reality.