Isaiah 43


‘But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; 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, your Saviour; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honoured in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children 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, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:1-7

Israel’s Only Saviour

This chapter begins with some encouragement for Israel is encouraged and it’s here we read of a sudden shift from reproach, Isaiah 42, to consolation. This is to help them to understand that not their merit warranted their deliverance, but because she was God’s, He would preserve her.

As He delivered them from the bondage of Egypt, so He will gather them home from Babylonian captivity. No water or river, or fire, that is, no natural dangers would hinder them from returning from captivity. This is the first reason for encouragement.

The second reason which ensures them against complete destruction is the free love of God. Instead of Israel having been given up, three nations have been offered in its place. God gave Egypt, Ethiopia and Seba as a ransom for the salvation of Jerusalem. Sennacherib focused his military energies on these nations while sending a part of his army to Jerusalem.

The third reason for encouragement is God was with Israel and would restore her from every quarter of the earth. All who worship the true God and are obedient to His law will be blessed, Genesis 12:1-3. God is the only One who can save them and will do so.

Kidner, in his commentary, says the following.

‘These seven verses eloquently detail the assurance that Christ gave his Church, i.e., that the Gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Fire, water, distances, peoples etc. can take no toll. Everyone will prevail whom God calls ‘mine’.’

‘Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of their gods foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, “It is true.” “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no saviour. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?” Isaiah 43:8-13

The summons is now addressed to someone to bring Israel forth while all the nations are to assemble for the purpose of justifying themselves for their treatment of Israel.

The thought of verse 9, seems to be that nations are now given an opportunity to justify themselves in their past conduct. If the nations cannot produce their own witnesses, let them hear what God is saying and let them acknowledge that God’s witness is true.

Young, in his commentary, says the following.

‘If they have any witness who can testify that they have declared the work of God and the former things, they may now present those witnesses, that they may be seen to be justified in their assertions.’

In verse 10, the prophet turns to Israel and says that not only are they witnesses of God’s power but that they were God’s servants as well, therefore they ought to acknowledge him for what he is. God proves Himself by His works and Israel is overwhelming evidence of what He claims.

God is Creator, God is one, Isaiah 44:6 / Isaiah 44:8 / Isaiah 44:24 / Isaiah 45:4-5 / Isaiah 45:14 / Isaiah 45:18 / Isaiah 45:21-22, none can prevail against Him. Therefore, salvation for Israel is certain, God alone is able to save them. In other words, they could never have come back from captivity unless God had released them.

God’s Mercy And Israel’s Unfaithfulness

‘This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sake I will send to Babylon and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians, in the ships in which they took pride. I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King.” Isaiah 43:14-15

From these verses through chapter 44:5, we of God’s vengeance and deliverance. God promises to overthrow Babylon for the sake of Israel. God brought down the Babylonian Empire in order that the Medo-Persian Empire, through King Cyrus, allow Israel to be restored to the Promised Land.

‘This is what the LORD says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honour me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.’ Isaiah 43:16-21

Here we find another picture of redemption, it is a reminder of what happened to Egypt at the Red Sea. Israel are encouraged to look forward, not backward. It was God who parted the Red Sea, and then closed it upon Pharaoh’s army when Israel were delivered from Egyptian captivity, and God will again work to bring Israel out of Assyrian and Babylonian captivities.

God dried up the waters in order that they be delivered from Egypt. Now He will supply water in order that they are able to cross the desert from the captivity of Babylon to the freedom of their Promised Land. Just as God snuffed out the power of Pharaoh, so He will snuff out the power of these two empires who had taken His people into captivity.

The new things which God would do for His people is a deliverance that the old deliverance from Egypt only served to typify.

In this ‘new thing,’ there seems to be a Messianic reference, a spiritual deliverance. The nation of Israel were created with God’s purpose of bringing the incarnation of Himself into the world through Jesus.

‘Yet you have not called on me, Jacob, you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel. You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings, nor honoured me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with grain offerings nor wearied you with demands for incense. You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses.’ Isaiah 43:22-24

God had blessed His people, but the people rebelled against God. In other words, the people were religious but they weren’t godly. It would be the goodness of God and not their own faithfulness or works which they must remember because the only thing they had to offer was their own grievous sins.

‘I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence. Your first father sinned; those I sent to teach you rebelled against me. So I disgraced the dignitaries of your temple; I consigned Jacob to destruction and Israel to scorn.’ Isaiah 43:25-28

The promise is brought to a close, with God blotting out Israel’s sins. God will forgive and forget their sins. It was by the grace of God that He would blot Israel’s sins but only for the sake of Jehovah. In order that they continue throughout history for the coming of the Messiah, their restoration to the land after the captivities was a sign that God had forgiven them.

God calls upon Israel to show Him some merit. This is done in order to impress the grace and love of God more deeply. Israel had no good work to show, merely a string of sins to offer and it was because of this sinful state that God had turned her over to the captor.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Alas! What a curse does the old Israel still bear, and what reproach do they still suffer? No national crimes have ever equalled those of the Jewish nation; for no nation ever had such privileges to neglect, despise, and sin against. When shall the severity of God toward this people have an end? Answer: Whenever, with one heart, they turn to him, and receive the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ and not till then.’

Go To Isaiah 44