ISAIAH CHAPTER 43.
Jehovah’s Merciful Love and Covenant Faithfulness.
JEHOVAH’S LOVE PROTECTS AND GATHERS HIS PEOPLE. — V. 1. But now, thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, not only in the act of creation, but in the sense of making the descendants of Jacob His own peculiar people, a distinction which has now been transferred to the spiritual Israel, the Church of God, Fear not, namely, after the stern reproofs of the last chapter and on account of the natural feeling of sinfulness and unworthiness, for I have redeemed thee, His main activity ever consisting in His ransoming His children from the power of their enemies; I have called thee by thy name, thereby expressing the relation of intimate friendship which He wanted to exist; thou art Mine, His incomparable love causing Him to regard Israel as His precious possession, which He treasures with all the power of His eternal mercy. V. 2. When thou passest through the waters, through great dangers, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee, as when Israel went dry-shod through the bed of Jordan, although it was the period of the annual floods, Josh. 3, 15; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee, the most extreme perils would not be able to harm those who placed their trust in Him, the God of their salvation. V. 3. For I am the Lord, thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior, the outstanding names of the true God in the Old Testament, the very mention of which is a guarantee of His friendship, especially that of Savior, 1 Tim. 1, 1. I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia, the southern part of Egypt, and Seba, the province of Meroe, between the White and the Blue Nile, for thee, the ungodly being given as ransom for the just, to punish them for their iniquities in opposing the true God, Prov. 21, 18. V. 4. Since thou wast precious in My sight, valued most highly by the great God, thou hast been honorable, esteemed greatly in His sight, and I have loved thee, this being the climax of His kind assurances; therefore will I give men for thee and people for thy life, sacrificing the ungodly in order to deliver them that are His, as stated in the previous verse. So eager is the Lord to impress the greatness of His love upon the minds of His children that he repeats His reassuring statements. V. 5. Fear not, for I am with thee, the pronoun “I,’ being placed with special emphasis; I will bring thy seed from the East and gather thee from the West, the spiritual Israel, the Church of God, being collected from the members of all nations; v. 6. I will say to the North, Give up, and to the South, Keep not back, the form of the admonition including a very willing yielding on the part of the distant peoples, all under the influence of the Lord’s merciful invitation. Bring My Sons from far and My daughters from the ends of the earth, the prophecy having in mind the sum total of the believers gained through the proclamation of His message, v. 7. even every one that is called by My name, as an evidence of their belonging to Him in faith; for I have created him, Israel, as representing the Church of God of all times, for My glory, that the work of the Church might redound to His honor and glory; I have formed him, by a process of careful education; yea, I have made him, prepared him for the purposes of His mercy. Of the saints of the Lord, whom He has called, sanctified, and kept in the faith, not one will remain behind on the Last Day; all will enter into the joy of their Lord.
JEHOVAH THE TRUE GOD AND ONLY SAVIOR. — V. 8. Bring forth the blind people that have eyes and the deaf that have ears, namely, to appear before the tribunal; for in spite of their spiritual blindness the children of Israel have had the opportunity to observe certain facts with their senses, to which they may now testify. V. 9. Let all the nations be gathered together and let the people be assembled, the Gentiles from all over the world; who among them can declare this and show us former things? The heathen are challenged either to prophesy in the same manner as the Lord or to bring proof of the fact that events have come to pass according to their prediction. Let them bring forth their witnesses that they may be justified, namely, by submitting adequate proofs which others would be bound to acknowledge; or, in case they are unable to do this, let them hear and say, It is truth, namely, that presented on the Lord’s side. V. 10. Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, and My Servant whom I have chosen, for the purpose of bringing Israel to the knowledge of the only true God, that ye may know and believe Me, by virtue of the testimony of their own eyes, and understand that I am He, have a clear and convincing comprehension. Before Me there was no god formed, He alone was God from eternity, neither shall there be after Me, since He is in exclusive possession of the deity. V. 11. I, even I, am the Lord, the isolation of the sentence bringing out its emphasis all the more strongly, and beside Me there is no savior, He is the only one who can bestow deliverance from sin, death, and the power of the devil, the one in whom the salvation of mankind is found. V. 12. I have declared, announced in advance, and have saved, in accordance with His prophecy, and I have showed, let them hear another prediction, when there was no strange god among you; therefore ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God, they had had a sufficient number of incontrovertible proofs and could testify accordingly. V. 13. Yea, before the day was, I am He, literally, “from this day,” that is, He would be the same unchangeable God in the future as in the past, and there is none that can deliver out of My hand; I will work, and who shall let it? Who would be strong enough to hinder or frustrate His plans? The works of the Lord speak for Him, reveal Him, as in the past, so in the future.
PROOF THAT JEHOVAH IS THE HOLY ONE. — V. 14. Thus saith the Lord, your Redeemer, their Vindicator and Deliverer, the Holy One of Israel, whose outstanding attribute in dealing with His people is holiness: For your sake I have sent to Babylon and have brought down all their nobles, causing the Babylonians to be driven away as fugitives, and the Chaldeans, the original inhabitants of Babylonia, whose cry is in the ships, literally, “together with the Chaldeans on the ships of their exulting,” over which they rejoiced with loud cries as the witnesses of their wealth and the bulwarks of their power. V. 15. I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, who chose and established Israel as His people, your King, their Ruler, Provider, and Protector. V. 16. Thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, as when He led Israel through the Red Sea, and a path in the mighty waters, whose almighty power is unchanged through the ages, v. 17. which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the cavalry being considered the most powerful part of an army in those days, the army and the power, the might of the enemies’ host; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise, being overcome completely; they are extinct, they are quenched as tow, as Pharaoh’s army was buried in a watery grave. V. 18. Remember ye not the former things, when the Lord, in the past, performed such great things, neither consider the things of old, for what the Lord intended to do for His people in the future made all that which lay in the past seem insignificant by comparison. V. 19. Behold, I will do a new thing, unusual, remarkable in its wonderful character; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? The challenge intends to call their attention to his action, of which He now speaks. I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, thereby performing a miracle which was unheard of among men. V. 20. The beast of the field, all the wild animals of the desert, shall honor Me, the dragons, or jackals, and the owls, the ostriches, the reference being to the Gentiles who are still in the wilderness of their sinfulness, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert to give drink to My people, My chosen, the believers having the refreshing waters of the Word of mercy to sustain them on their way through the desert of this world. V. 21. This people, the spiritual Israel, have I formed for Myself, made them His own by His creative and educative activity in their behalf; they shall show forth My praise. That is the end and object of the Christians’ life, to glorify the heavenly Father for the deeds of His mercy, as they have been enabled to do by His strength granted them through His call.
ISRAEL’S SALVATION THE WORK OF JEHOVAH’S MERCY. — V. 22. But thou hast not called upon Me, O Jacob, they had not chosen the true God; but thou hast been weary of Me, O Israel, they had in no way exerted themselves on His account, His election of them as His peculiar people rather being an act of His free love and mercy. V. 23. Thou hast not brought Me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings, to atone for the general condition of sinfulness and to dedicate themselves to Jehovah; neither hast thou honored Me with thy sacrifices, in order to establish and maintain the relation of dependence brought about by the mercy of God imparted in the Word. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, the unbloody sacrifice which expressed the praise of God on the part of His saints, nor wearied thee with incense, which signified the prayers of the believers. Before the Lord called the patriarchs and designated their descendants as the people sanctified to Him, they had not sought Him, His selection of Abraham and of the children of Israel being a matter of His free grace and mercy alone. V. 24. Thou hast bought Me no sweet cane with money, the sweet-smelling plant used in preparing the sacred oil, imported at a great price, neither hast thou filled Me with the fat of thy sacrifices, never tiring themselves out in acts of worship, just as there was no merit on their part in being called into the relation of the covenant; on the contrary: but thou hast made Me to serve with thy sins, causing Him much trouble after He had accepted them into the relation of His children, thou hast wearied Me with thine iniqulties, their constant transgression of His holy Law causing Him great distress and vexation. V. 25. I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, by an act of His boundless mercy, in order that His name might not be blasphemed among the heathen, and will not remember thy sins, this being the essence of forgiveness, that He remits the specific breach of faith as well as the general deviation from the path of His holy will. V. 26. Put Me in remembrance, Israel reminding the Lord of His acts of mercy by a recital of the same; let us plead together, in order to establish their case, if they thought they were in a position to say anything in their own favor; declare thou, that thou mayest be justified, be established as righteous in the face of God’s accusation. V. 27. Thy first father, the ancestor of the children of Israel, hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against Me, the very ones who should have transmitted the will of God to the people. V. 28. Therefore, because they made themselves unworthy of the honor given them in their office, I have profaned the princes of the Sanctuary, degrading the high priests, treating them as no longer consecrated, and have given Jacob to the curse and Israel to reproaches. Israel alone was to blame for its present misfortune. The fact that the Lord intended to bring salvation was due entirely to His grace and mercy. Hos. 13, 9.