When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. — Isaiah 43:2
My grandfather used to tell how he proved the reality of today’s focus verse. Many years ago, he was taking a businessman from Port Townsend, Washington, to the San Juan Islands in his small boat. About four or five miles from shore, trouble developed with the engine and Grandpa asked the businessman to pilot the boat while he went below deck to see what could be done. While he was working on the engine, the boat struck an object. The vessel began to fill with water and within moments it began to sink. Grandpa picked up one life preserver and gave it to the businessman; he took the other one, and they climbed up onto the engine room behind the pilot house.
When the first wave went over them, it was cold; but under that wave Grandpa knew that Jesus was there with him. God’s promise came to him: “When thou passest through the waters, . . . they shall not overflow thee.” As the boat came out of that wave, Grandpa raised his hand to Heaven and shouted, “Glory to God, I have Jesus!” Then another wave went over them.
Grandpa told us later that in spite of the peril they were in, he was just as happy as if he were safe at home because he had a promise. He knew that the Lord would take him safely through. “I didn’t know how He would do so, but that didn’t matter; I was assured that I would come out all right,” he would say. He couldn’t swim, the tide was going out, and the wind was blowing them out to sea, but he had a promise from God.
The boat went down. After about six hours in the water, paddling with a board and with his arms, Grandpa finally came to shore on Whidbey Island — worn and exhausted, but still alive! The other man drowned that night, but God was faithful to the promise He gave my grandfather.
What kind of “waters” are you passing through today? Are the flames raging around you? Do not be alarmed; God is more than able to bring you through! God promises to be present with you in your greatest difficulties and dangers. The floods and the flames can never overwhelm you or separate you from your faith as long as your trust is anchored in Him.
Chapter 42 of Isaiah concluded with God’s sorrow over the spiritual decay of Israel. In this chapter, God tells the people that despite Israel’s rejection of God, He will show them mercy and will offer them redemption. The prophet proclaimed God’s comfort to His people through many precious promises.
As a nation, the Jewish people would face much danger and persecution, but God’s assurance of ultimate deliverance and redemption was an unfailing promise. The nation would be preserved.
In verses 8–13 of this chapter, Isaiah described Israel’s role as a witness to the world. In a type of courtroom scene, God challenged the idols of the heathens, revealing them as helpless and speechless. He then went on to tell the people that they could witness for Him, because He had given them many plain demonstrations of his foreknowledge of future events. The false gods were not only weak and unable to save their people, but were also the destroyer of their people — the cause of their great ruin. In contrast, God had foretold the deliverance of His people, and then effected it. Unquestionably, He triumphed in the controversy between God and idols.
In verses 14–28, God promised future deliverance from Babylon and the Chaldeans, and an even greater redemption — that of forgiveness of sin. Just as God had taken His people out of Egyptian bondage and through the wilderness to their new homeland, He would again defeat Israel’s enemies. Even nature itself would cooperate with the God who had formed and called the Israelites, though they had done nothing to deserve this deliverance. Throughout these verses, the verb tense used clearly indicates that this deliverance is yet in the future.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
A. The promise of deliverance (comfort)
4. The consolation of Israel
a. The assurance of God
(1) The redemption of His people (43:1-7)
(2) The reality that the Lord alone is God (43:8-18)
(3) The fact of God’s absolute sovereignty (43:19-21)
(4) The reality of Israel’s unfaithfulness (43:22-28)
God comforts us with many precious promises and evidences of His care and kindness. How reassuring it is to know that He is always there beside us, no matter what affliction or trial we may be facing!