Scripture

Isaiah 43

Israel’s Only Savior

 

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 Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored 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.”

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.”
10 “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.
11 I, even I, am the Lord,
    and apart from me there is no savior.
12 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.
13     Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
    When I act, who can reverse it?”

God’s Mercy and Israel’s Unfaithfulness

 

14 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.
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
    Israel’s Creator, your King.”

16 This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,
17 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:
18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 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.
20 The wild animals honor 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,
21     the people I formed for myself
    that they may proclaim my praise.

22 “Yet you have not called on me, Jacob,
    you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel.
23 You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings,
    nor honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with grain offerings
    nor wearied you with demands for incense.
24 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.

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

Reflection

I am not a morning person. I’m not really a night owl either. My best hours are sort of 10-2. :) Back to the point - I do not like getting up before the sun. But lately, I have been working on getting up earlier than normal. Why? Because I have discovered that there is a peace and freshness to those early morning hours. To miss the sunrise seems a shame. God is doing a brand new thing every day. 

In the scripture above, God was speaking to Israel through the prophet Isaiah. God was drawing their attention to the “new thing,” urging them to forget the past and focus on the future. The prophet reminds them that they have ignored God. They didn’t worship God or call on God during their time of trouble. The people had lost all hope and turned away from God completely. Isaiah was there to remind them that God has been there all along, and is now leading them to a new thing. But they have to pay attention to it. They have to notice what God is doing, or it will simply pass them by.

God says he will make “a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” I have seen this dessert/wilderness where the people of Israel existed during this time. It is barren, dry, harsh. A “way in the wilderness” would have been a narrow path, easy to miss, and still hard to travel. “Streams in the wasteland” would be more like flash floods that were over quickly, or trickling streams hidden in the rock. Both could be easily missed.

Sometimes the “new thing” is small, a glimpse, easily overlooked, if we are not paying attention. In fact, God puts a new thing in front of us every day. Each morning we can witness this in the sunrise, the early birds chirping, the grass rising up. And we can find it in the people around us, the opportunities to love someone, the chance to forgive, the creativity of a new idea. God repeatedly presents us with opportunities to experience the Divine. But we have to look for it. For some of us, it may mean simply getting up earlier to witness God at work. For others, it may mean looking creatively at an old situation, or looking for God at work in others. What can you do to wake up to this new thing and join God in it?  

Prayer

Holy One, As I step into the future, I pray that you will continue to guide me. Give me your help and your protection. Aid me with your direction and support. You are my rock and my redeemer. Let all of my plans be yours, Lord. Open my soul to where and how you are at work in the world, and let me join you. Thank you for being with me regardless of success or failure. Use all of me and all of my life for your purposes, oh Creator God. I put my hope in you alone. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.