The Lord says,
“Because you are precious in my sight,
and honored, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
nations in exchange for your life.”
— Isaiah 43:4 (NRSV)
Recalling my introduction to Lectio Divina (a repeated and meditative reading of a divine text) I couldn’t have been blessed more than through the passage given to us students that day: Isaiah 43:1-7. I must have read that passage aloud to myself 50 times and I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt such hope in God as I did that day.
Isaiah 43 is a beautiful text reassuring us of the strength of God to redeem us. If only we could infuse this message within our hearts, hope would be our instinctive preference and fear would vanish.
Redemption, Promise, and a New Exodus
The theme of redemption is introduced in the first seven verses. The people of God are reminded how special they are to their Lord. It is helpful for us, whenever our relationship with God is shaky, to read such Scripture and be comforted. Ours is for the redemption. The past is just that: the past.
Now there is a future and the Lord undergirds us with dignity.
In verses 8-13 there is a certainty to what the Lord has promised. The promised redemption will come to pass. There is no other saviour but the Lord. Our hope should be solitary in God, for no ‘hope’ comes near it.
The people of God are asked to bear witness to the faithfulness of God; a God who does not break promises. What he has promised us he will bring to fruition.
A new Exodus is the theme of verses 14-21. Images of the parting of the waves and the vanquishing of chariots and warriors fill the mind as we read these verses. We, too, have raging tides and armies against us at times. Like the Israelites, we are blessed to recall the faithfulness of God in the Exodus. God is just as faithful to deliver us today.
When the Past Is Forgotten & the Future Is Blessed
The finality of redemption is founded in the forgiveness of sins. When our sins are exposed (verses 22-24) and we are confronted by God, and we are honest, God forgives us. There is no point in trying to fool an all-knowing God. To confess is freedom.
From confession unto repentance we are freed because of the Lord who blots out our transgressions for our own sake. Our sins are remembered no more. Principally because of this fact the future is blessed.
No greater comfort can there be than the hope felt because we are loved by God. Such love has compelled the Lord to redeem us, to deliver on his promise, to provide a new Exodus, and to forgive our sins and give us a future with hope.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.
Further Reading: J. Alec Moyter, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993), pp. 326-341.