Read the Passage: Isaiah 43
God’s Deliverance (43:1–7)
Isaiah 43 is one of the high-point chapters in all of the Old Testament, as here God makes it clear that the reason for the creation, salvation, and deliverance of Israel did not arise from something within the nation itself, but from God’s own sovereign choice of Israel as a people to worship Him. Of course, the teaching that salvation is of the Lord was given elsewhere in the Old Testament (cf. Deut. 7:7–8; Ezek. 36:21–23; Jonah 2:9), yet this teaching is clearer here than perhaps anywhere else in the Old Testament. Recall in Isa. 40–48 Isaiah recorded several prophecies of peace from God to the exiled nation. This is a unique part of Scripture, as here God spoke through Isaiah to those who would be captive in Babylon some 100 years after the writing of this book. Note God begins this chapter by referring to Himself as the one “who created you . . . who formed you, O Israel” (Isa. 43:1).
In Isa. 43:1 God declared, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.” While this statement may have humbled the prideful in Israel, it also should have comforted them. Indeed, God was saying that since He redeemed Israel, not even the people’s sin could destroy their relationship with God. In Isa. 43:2–4 God graciously promised to be with His people in their trials—whether it be deep waters or raging fires, God would protect Israel. In Isa. 43:5–7 God encouraged His people not to be afraid, as He promised to gather them from all places—north, south, east, and west. Contextually this pictures Israel’s return from exile to Palestine. Yet, eschatologically, it pictures God’s gathering of His people to Himself at the end of the age. Observe that Isa. 43:7 is a key verse in this chapter, as here God writes, “I have created you for My glory.”
God’s Character (43:8–21)
In Isa. 43:8–21 God reminded His people that His deliverance and redemption is not unusual but is in accord with His character. In Isa. 43:8 God calls Israel to testify about His past deliverance, as well as about His future salvation. Because God delivers His people, the blind can see and the deaf can hear. Of course, spiritually speaking, this happens in salvation (cf. Isa. 42:7, 18), and was even physically manifest in Jesus’ gospel ministry (cf. Luke 7:22). Furthermore, as Isaiah had previously recorded, this will happen again when Christ returns (cf. Isa. 29:18; 35:5; 42:7). Next, in Isa. 43:9 God calls the nations to testify about the inability of their own gods to deliver them. Note that God uses thirteen personal pronouns in Isa. 43:10–13 to highlight His sovereign power. Moreover, in this passage God calls His people to testify about the nature of His holy character.
In Isa. 43:14–21 God again describes the future deliverance of His people as well as His own holy character. First, in Isa. 43:14–15 God reveals that He would soon cause the Babylonians to become fugitives. Surely, this was both surprising and encouraging to the Israelites who were themselves exiles in Babylon. Second, in Isa. 43:16–21 God speaks about the future deliverance of His people at the end of the age. Just as He had delivered Israel from the Egyptians by making a path through the Red Sea, so God will rescue His people from their enemies by making a path through the barren desert of the fallen world. God refers to this deliverance as “a new thing” (Isa. 43:19). Three times in Isa. 43:19–20 God notes that the rescue of His people will be like rivers in the desert or water in the wilderness. As He had done at Isa. 43:7, so at Isa. 43:21 God focuses salvation upon Himself.
God’s Plea (43:22–28)
After writing about Israel’s future deliverance and His own character, in Isa. 43:22–28 God remind the nation that their history was one of abandoning Him. Implicitly, God was calling His people to trust in Him, while at the same time reminding the nation that their own history was full of sin. In Isa. 43:22–24 God noted the while He had not burdened the nation with religious requirements, they had burdened Him with sin. In Isa. 43:25 God again taught the people salvation was both of Him and for Him, writing, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake” (cf. Ps. 106:8). In Isa. 43:26, God invited Israel—likely with sarcasm—to state their case before Him. Because the nation was guilty of sin and unable to defend herself, in Isa. 43:28 God declared that, apart from their trust in Him, He would “give Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.”
- Why did God redeem Israel, and later the church? Why did God rescue Israel from captivity in Babylon?
- Why did God promise to be with His people in their trials, rather than to deliver them from their trials?
- Do you often dwell upon God’s power, sovereignty, and holy character? How does testifying about God’s past works affect believers and unbelievers?
- Have you seen God make “rivers in the desert” (Isa. 43:20) in your life, in your family, and in your church?
- In Isaiah 43 why does God repeated remind His people that He had redeemed them for His own glory? Do we need to be reminded of this fact?