Isaiah 43:1–3; 44:21–23 “But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator; … He who formed you, O Israel, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.’…‘I have formed you,…you will not be forgotten by Me. … Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.’ Shout for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth; break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it. For the Lord has redeemed Jacob and in Israel He shows forth His glory.”
Observation: In spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, He still loved her and promised her release from Babylonian captivity. His words reminded Israel who she was to Him (redeemed, beloved) and who He was to her (Creator, Lord, the One who formed her.) And He said, “Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” Here we see God as though standing on a precipice overlooking the pit of hell, calling Israel to a redemption He had already provided even though Isaiah wrote these words 700 years before the birth of Christ. Finally, He commanded that the whole earth: mountains, forest, and trees, shout joyfully over this redemption.
Application: Throughout these chapters God uses the language of forming, suggesting something beyond merely creating or fashioning. There is within the word the additional concept of applied pressure, of a knife cutting away unwanted attributes that the finished thing of beauty might emerge.
God does indeed have that in store for His chosen people Israel. But there is also a personal application here, an individual way of understanding what He is doing in my life as He takes me through waters of affliction that cannot overwhelm me and fires that cannot scorch or burn. These are for my refining, that I might become the pure, spotless bride that His sacrifice has already purchased. He calls me forth from the messes I become mired in, into His redemption, His freedom, His peace. As I yield to His call, the world and everything within it will rejoice.
Prayer: O God, Father of all redemption through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have felt the pressure of Your formation; I have known the cutting of Your knife. How I thank You that You do not leave me as You found me, but that Your great love has called me forth to eternal redemption as the bride of Your dear Son.