I Have Created You, O Jacob Fear Not

for I Have Redeemed You, You are Mine

43: 1-7

   DIG: Compare 42:23-43:2 with Romans 3:19-24 and Ephesians 2:11-13. What does the but now in each of these passages emphasize about your relationship with God?

   REFLECT: Which side of the but now are you on? If you were to set these passages to music, what type of music would you use for the material before the but now? For the material afterwards? What waters or fire in 43:2 seem to be fearfully close to you at the moment? What does it mean to you that the LORD says He will be with His people through these things? How have you experienced that in the past? Why doesn’t He just let us avoid them? How does it make you feel to know that while you were still a sinner, Christ died just for you (Romans 5:8)?

    Spiritually deaf and blind, Judah had ignored and disobeyed the Torah (42:18-25). As a result, the Israelites would have to endure the Babylonian Captivity. She would be exiled there for seventy years (see Hd - That Her Warfare Has Been Completed). In this section, however, the Holy Spirit revealed that God was not through with Isra'el. Denying that the LORD has a future purpose for her is tantamount to unbelief. In the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit asks the question: Did God reject His people? And His answer is: By no means (Romans 11:1)! And the fact that He is not through with her is clearly seen in this chapter.

    Once again Isaiah will prove himself as a prophet. Remember, according to Deuteronomy 18, the way you test a prophet is to first see if his near historical prophecies are reliable, then you can trust his far eschatological prophecies. But here Isaiah will start out with the opposite motif, a far eschatological prophecy of the final deliverance from the Babylon of the Great Tribulation.

    He starts out with the promise of redemption. Chapter 42 ended with a question. Who handed Jacob over to become loot, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the LORD, against Whom we have sinned (42:24)? The reason for the Babylonian captivity and the worldwide dispersion of the Jewish nation is because Israel had sinned and God had turned them over to robbers to be plundered. Chapter 43:1 starts out by saying: But now, In contrast to former days when ADONAI had turned Israel over to robbers, as the LORD looks to the future through His prophet Isaiah, He sees the coming time when Israel will again return to Him and be fully redeemed. In contrast to the end of Chapter 42, in Chapter 43 we have the return of grace. God has not forgotten, nor is He unable to deliver His children that He brought into existence. Israel need not fear; redemption is absolutely certain.

    The kinsman redeemer concept of the Torah (also see my commentary on Ruth) is embedded in the first four verses. If a Jew got himself so far into debt that he could not pay, according to the Torah, there was only one option. He had to sell himself into slavery for a period of seven years. After the seventh year, the sabbatical year, he would be released. But after selling himself into slavery there was another option. Another man could come and pay the redemption price to free that man out of slavery. Three stipulations were required for one to be the redeemer of a slave. First, he had to be a near relative or kinsman redeemer. Secondly, he had to have the price of redemption. He had to be able to pay the debt off. Thirdly, he had to be willing to pay the price. The Torah did not require the kinsman redeemer to pay the price; it only permitted him to do so. It was left up to the man’s free will. All three stipulations are spelled out in 43:1-4. Because of Isra'el’s sin against ADONAI, He had sold her to robbers and had become a slave to the Gentile nations. But now the LORD is going to function as the kinsman redeemer.

    The first requirement was that of being a kinsman. Whatever misfortunes life may have brought the Israelite, no one needed to be ensnared in them forever. A way was made for a family member, a friend, or even oneself to pay back the debt, to set the slave free, to commute the sentence. In ADONAI’s world chance did not have the last word. The verb ga’al means redeemer (35:10). The LORD made Himself Next-of-Kin of the people He created. They are His family and He shoulders all their needs as if they are His own. They would be redeemed by Him (see my commentary on Exodus Bz- Redemption).

    Whatever Judah’s blindness and deafness was in the past, ADONAI said that they were to forget that and concentrate on whose they are. But now, this is what the LORD says - he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Isra'el: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine (43:1). This is about as clear as it can be. It was God who created, formed, and redeemed Jacob. I do not think you could be confused about God’s unconditional love for Israel unless you deliberately wanted to be confused. The LORD declared: I have called you by name. This expression in Hebrew always means being called for a specific task. You will find this to be true everywhere in the Old Covenant. Have redeemed and have called are prophetic perfects, expressing a future action with absolute certainty as if it had already taken place. The latter verb indicates the creation of a special relationship between God and Isra'el. He also adds you are Mine, meaning that there is a special, intimate relationship between the LORD and Israel. Because of this relationship, God fulfilled the first requirement of the redeemer - that of being a kinsman.

    The second requirement was the willingness to pay. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you (43:2a). When the Israelites passed through the Sea of Reeds, the Angel of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind to protect them (Psalm 105:39; and also see my commentary on Exodus Ci – The Waters Were Divided and the Israelites Went Through on Dry Land). This Angel of God would eventually become the Suffering Servant of Isaiah (see Hp – Here Is My Servant, Whom I Uphold). He was pierced for our transgressions on the cross, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed of our sins (53:5). In other words, He was willing to pay the price.

    When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze (43:2b). The prophet Daniel and his three Jewish friends experience this first hand. As some of the best and brightest of Judah, Hanniah, Mishael and Azariah, had been given the Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Daniel had also been renamed Belteshazzar. They had been taken captive and exiled in Babylon. Because they refused to worship the idol of gold set up by King Nebuchadnezzar, they were thrown into the blazing furnace that was heated seven times hotter than usual (Dani'el 3:16-19). But they were not alone in the fire, one like the son of the gods was with them (Dani'el 3:25). Although Nebuchadnezzar did not know the Son of God, he did recognize that the Person appearing with the three Jews was God in human form. That preincarnate Christ would ultimately pay the redemption price: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). After the king of Babylon called for them to come out of the furnace he and his royal court realized that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair on their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them (Dani'el 3:26-27).

    Like Daniel and his friends, God said to the Israelites of Isaiah’s day: When you walk through the fire you will not be burned (43:2). The same can be said of us. To refine and purify us, God sometimes uses the furnace of affliction. He didn’t say if. And the apostle Peter said: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you (First Peter 4:12). None of us knows when we’ll be called on to walk through the fire or how hot the furnace will be. But we do know this: ADONAI’s purpose for the flames is to purify us, not to destroy us (even though the world might just do that). Sometimes, the only way that God can hurry up our holiness is by turning up the heat.

    The third requirement was the ability to pay the price of redemption. The redemption price was the nations mentioned in 43:3 and mankind in 43:4. Now the LORD gives His own names to Israel as an indication of His support for His people no matter what may come in the years ahead. For I am ADONAI, your God, the Holy One of Isra'el, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush (Ethiopia) and Seba in your stead (43:3). As much as Isra'el is the LORD’s, the LORD is Isra'el’s. That was what the Covenant was all about (see my commentary on Exodus Dd – The Mosaic Covenant), Israel was committed to God, and incredibly, He was giving Himself to Isra'el.

    In 43:3 He mentions three names; Egypt, Ethiopia, and Saba. These are three nations all in the continent of Africa. So God was willing to sacrifice an entire continent like Africa to bring about the final redemption of Israel. For I am ADONAI. Here the LORD calls Himself ADONAI, and whenever you see this name, it is always describing God as a covenant keeper, your God, uniquely Isra'el’s God; the Holy One of Isra'el, your Savior, the One who is both willing and able to pay the price of redemption.

    Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life (43:4). The reason God will pay the price is because Isra'el had been precious and honored in His sight, and because He loved them. In spite of Isra'el’s sinfulness she has been precious, honored, and loved in God’s sight. For those reasons, the LORD is both willing and able to pay the price of redemption.

    There is a chiastic relationship, or a parallelism, in these verses where the first letter is parallel to the second letter, and so on, with the letter C being the key point:

A I have created and formed you; fear not, you are Mine (43:1)

    B When you pass through the rivers and through the fire, I will be with you (43:2)

        C For I Am ADONAI, your God, the Holy One of Isra'el, your Savior (43:3)

        C Because I love you, I will give people in exchange for your life (43:4)

    B Do not be afraid, for I Am with you and will bring you back (43:5-6)

A I created everyone who is called by My name for My glory (43:7)

    Isaiah describes the final, worldwide regathering of the scattered exiles. Three major points are made in these three verses. First, we are told that this regathering is from the four corners of the world. 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.” (43:5-6a). Isaiah is not prophesying about the return from Babylon because that was from only one area of the world. Isaiah is describing the far eschatological regathering after the Great Tribulation in preparation for the Messianic Kingdom.

    Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth (43:6b). In words similar to those of 11:11-12, 27:13, 49:12 and 60:4, ADONAI promises to bring Jacob’s children back from every corner of the earth. This promise confirms the same promise Moses made in Deuteronomy 30:3-6. Furthermore, this regathering will be aided by the Gentile nations who will be called upon to bring the Jews back (see Dl – The LORD will have Compassion of Jacob).

    But perhaps the most significant thing is that God views the final gathering of Israel on the magnitude of the original creation of man. Everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made (43:7). The only time you see the words created (Genesis 1:27), formed (Genesis 2:7) and made (Genesis 1:26) together is in the creation passages. They were brought into existence for one purpose, to glorify ADONAI. Consequently, the people of God could not be left in exile. His name was on them. Whatever would happen to them or not happen to them was directly attributable to Him. If they were disgraced, He would be disgraced. They are called by His name, they belong to Him, they are part of His family (Deuteronomy 28:10; Jeremiah 14:9, 15:16; Ezekiel 36:20).

    In the final analysis, Israel, had sinned. But one of the fundamental principles of the Kingdom of God is that His grace precedes everything else. The most concise statement of this truth in the New Covenant is found in Romans 5:8. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That is, the LORD did everything necessary to deliver us from the consequences of our sin before there was any indication that we would respond to Him. Satan’s lie that God is somehow holding out on us; that in some way He doesn’t love us and want the best for us, is refuted by this one verse. The LORD’s character radiates free, self-giving love, without the slightest taint of selfishness, the “what’s in it for me” attitude of the human nature. The ultimate proof of that is the cross. ADONAI comes to us in Christ, offering Himself to us (53:10). There is nothing we have done or ever could do to merit such an offer. It is free. It is the grace of God.160

 

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