Isaiah 43:1-7Evangelical Heritage Version
The Lord’s New Act of Salvation
But now this is what the Lord says,
the Lord who created you, O Jacob,
the Lord who formed you, O Israel.
Do not be afraid, because I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name. You are mine.
2 When you cross through the waters, I will be with you.
When you cross the rivers, they will not sweep you away.
When you walk through fire, you will not be burned,
and the flame will not set you on fire.
3 Because I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior,
I gave Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious and honored in my eyes,
and I myself love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
and peoples in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, because I am with you.
From the east I will bring your offspring,
and from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, “Give them back!”
and to the south, “Do not hold them.”
Bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
everyone I created for my glory,
everyone I formed,
yes, everyone I have made.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
One of those things I really have a hard time with in this Christmas season are the writing an the sending of the traditional array of all those Christmas Cards.
I am always the one who is either incredibly late or incredibly lazy preferring the “contact list” on my smart phone and then dialing the ones I remember I have some kind of almost formal relationship or more than mere acquaintance.
I look at my smart phones contact list which is quite long with nearly every one of the letters of the alphabet having at least three or four and several with more.
Sometimes when I’m wrestling to figure out what is on God’s heart for me to say to them or if I am going to write a Christmas Card to them, what do I say?
Try taking “mental image” of each one, look at the names one by one and pray,
“Lord, I do not know if I remember our last conversation or I do not remember the physical face of this person, what is on your heart for this person, that family?”
“Lord, I have nothing on my heart for this person, this family, I know you know far more than I do , what’s on your heart for this person? How can I pray for them?
The answer from heaven, the Word of God for His Children, came straight away,
“Pray that they will all come to know that they are all precious in my sight.”
So that is what I will be striving to do this year.
Another vision caught my soul, somebody who I hadn’t even met yet or learned anything at all about, that person on the street corner with their signs, the ones who will drive their cars and trucks around me, beside me and long past me and when I drive past the hospitals, rehab centers, hospices, the police stations and the Fire and Rescue stations and the packed Mall Stores, all of the restaurants,
The answer came crashing headlong into my ever questioning spirit again ….
“Even if you send no cards or make no calls, even if you only pray in silence …. “
“Pray they will ALL come to know that they are absolutely precious in my sight.”
“I know everyone of them by name and I desire each of them to know my Name!”
I cannot ever claim I have minimally mastered the art of hearing God’s voice.
But does that answer sound like God to you?
I know that’s how he genuinely wants me to learn to look at each of you, to be communicating the ancient messages of Isaiah 43: 1 -7, be continually praying its ancient truths to all my neighbors as being absolutely precious in his sight.
I haven’t mastered that, yet either.
But it definitely sounds like something original and worth my maximum effort.
Starting a new Christmas Tradition – Pray without Ceasing for my Neighbors!
Drive around some neighborhoods I am a stranger to – Pray Isaiah 43:1-7
Isaiah 43:1-7Easy-to-Read Version
God Is Always With His People
43 Jacob, the Lord created you. Israel, he made you, and now he says, “Don’t be afraid. I saved you. I named you. You are mine. 2 When you have troubles, I am with you. When you cross rivers, you will not be hurt. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not hurt you. 3 That’s because I, the Lord, am your God. I, the Holy One of Israel, am your Savior. I gave Egypt to pay for you. I gave Ethiopia and Seba to make you mine. 4 You are precious to me, and I have given you a special place of honor. I love you. That’s why I am willing to trade others, to give up whole nations, to save your life.
5 “So don’t be afraid, because I am with you. I will gather your children and bring them to you. I will gather them from the east and from the west. 6 I will tell the north: Give my people to me. I will tell the south: Don’t keep my people in prison. Bring my sons and daughters to me from the faraway places. 7 Bring to me all the people who are mine—the people who have my name. I made them for myself. I made them, and they are mine.
The Lord created you.
He made you, and now the Lord God says, “Do not be afraid, I saved you.”
“I have named you!”
“You are Mine!”
“When you have troubles, I am with you. when you cross rivers, you will not be hurt. When you walk through fire, you’ll not be burned; flames wont hurt you.”
“That’s because, I, the Lord, am your God, I am your Savior.”
“I gave my only Son, Jesus for you. I gave him to you to make you mine.”
“You are all absolutely precious to me, and I have given you a place of honor.”
“I Love you with an everlasting Love, that is why I gave my own Son for you.”
“To save your life!”
“So don’t be afraid, because I am with you. I will gather your children and bring them to you. I will gather them from the east and from the west.
I will tell the north: Give my people to me. I will tell the south: Don’t keep my people in prison. Bring my sons and daughters to me from the faraway places.
Bring to me all the people who are mine—the people who have my name. I made them for myself. I made each and everyone of them, and they are mine.”
I do not have to know even one of their names, I do not even have to know who they are in the grand scheme which is God’s own exclusive plan for all of them.
I just have to recognize the power of God in the Word of God for His Children to make a difference, will one day, perhaps immediately, make all the difference.
When I’m driving around, I’m walking around, and I’m praying Isaiah 43:1-7,
What might be the possible outcomes of God working in and through my neighbors?
From the first verses of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, provides endless examples of how the presence of the Lord empowers his people to live for him.
Take Moses, for example.
He was convinced that without God’s presence in his life, it was useless for him to attempt anything.
When he spoke face to face with the Lord, he stated boldly,
“If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15).
He was saying, “Lord, if you’re not with us, we are not going to make it. We will not go a single step without the assurance of your presence.”
God’s presence is what sets us apart from nonbelievers.
The Old Testament is filled with accounts of great blessings that came to those who had God’s presence with them.
For instance, God’s presence was so evident in Abraham’s life that even the heathen around him recognized the difference between their lives and his.
Heathen king Abimelech said, “God is with you in all that you do” (Genesis 21:22).
God promised Joshua that no enemy could stand against him when his presence was with him:
“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:5-6).
When God’s Spirit is present in your life, you can be a conqueror because you securely place 100% trust in his promise to be with you in everything you do.
God shared with His Prophet Isaiah a special promise he makes to all he loves:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine … I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior … Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:1, 3, 5).
With God’s presence abiding in you, you can go through any fire and not just survive, but be kept safe and protected through it all.
Just as it was with Moses, Abraham and countless others God touched because someone prayed, a high powered testimony of God’s presence in your life today.
We are God’s creations, we have come from him, his children, and whether we like it or not he will always feel an unshakeable connection to us, a desire for us.
God loves us with a parent’s love, only better than any human parent can do.
He created us, but then, maybe to pin the thought down a little stronger,
the thought is repeated with a slightly different spin in the next phrase, “he who formed you, O Israel.”
Can you hear a little more care in that?
He formed us.
He is forming us every day.
The Bible tells us over and over again that God is molding us.
He teaches us.
He disciplines those whom he loves.
We like to think God’s exclusive job is to just give us lots of cool stuff, lie the abundance of His life, but the Bible talks much more about how he brings tests, adversities into our lives to teach us His precious character and make us strong.
When I was trying to learn all I can about just what it means when God said we are precious in his sight, I looked up other places in the Hebrew Old Testament where the same Hebrew word, translated “precious” here, is used.
It’s used of precious stones, maybe diamonds or emeralds or rubies, things that are kingly expensive, just plain hard to get at and also very beautiful to look at.
1 Kings 7:9, the word is used to describe the massive foundation stones used in building Solomon’s palace, “costly stones, cut according to measure, sawed with saws, back and front.”
Take some quality time to meditate about a huge stone, weighing tons, maybe 5 feet deep, 8 feet long, 3 or 4 feet high, cut by hand out of a quarry, dragged by hand across miles of countryside without anything close to what we would consider a decent road, shaped so the front and back were smooth and the sides shaped so that it would fit perfectly with the other stones brought together.
This was before the days of high tech power tools or dynamite and it took an incredible amount of people doing an impossible amount of work to prepare even one of those stones. Every one that made it, that got fitted perfectly into the building had a huge investment in it and must have been worth an awful lot.
Is there anyone here reading this today in whom God has not already made an incredible investment to make you what you are today?
He is steadily building His church into His Image with a great deal of care, molding each and every one of us very carefully, chipping away at our rough spots, the parts that stick out and keep the other stones from fitting close to us.
It’s a huge job.
It’s an impossible job
He has invested an awful lot in us.
And that makes us even more precious.
And often times when he is chipping away at our rough spots and those tests and adversities start to fly fast and thick we can feel like he’s mad at us or has abandoned us, but no, he’s loving us and teaching us.
He’s molding us.
And we often look back at the darkest times of our lives and look at the lessons we learned there, the growth we experienced and, looking back we would not wish it has been any other way because those lessons, his wise forming, was so incomprehensibly valuable, so undeniably precious and so indescribably God.
Time shows us God’s wisdom and love are always there if we will accept them.
The first verse goes on, “Do not fear, I have redeemed you.”
That’s another reason that God loves us.
He has redeemed us.
And here we need to give some background.
These words of Isaiah are not addressed to wonderful children of God who are hanging in the temple all day, studying God’s word, obeying it wholeheartedly.
He’s writing this to a nation of Israel that had squandered God’s gift of the temple and now it had been destroyed.
When things had gotten tough they had turned their backs on God, making alliances with pagan kings, serving pagan gods.
And as they set off on their own in defiance of the god who created them and had formed them.
They were invaded.
Jerusalem was destroyed.
Most of the people were forced to migrate into exile in faraway lands. You can read about it in the Hebrew Testament in Second Kings and Second Chronicles.
These words of God’s love in Isaiah 43 weren’t spoken in a time when God’s people made it easy to love them.
They had disobeyed terribly.
They had lost their freedom and their land.
And if you back up and read the previous chapter, Isaiah 42, you will see some of the poignant phrases used to describe how God saw his people at the time.
That they are blind towards him.
They had been robbed and plundered by their enemies.
They are now trapped by their foolishness.
And who behaves well when they feel trapped by their own foolishness?
And God is really angry with them.
But it’s the anger of someone who cares. Because they are precious in his sight he wants so much more for them and he just doesn’t give up working on them.
That’s when this word “redemption” is needed.
God’s children are in trouble.
And he was taking it upon himself to sacrifice everything to bail them out.
If we take the time to ponder 2022, we may find ourselves identifying with it.
Being a parent at parent-teacher conferences is fun when your kid is the one who has all the “A” papers posted on the bulletin boards at school and when you know the teacher is just going to rave about how well your kid is doing.
But what if your kid is the one who always gives the teacher a very hard time, and there will be none of your child’s homework posted in the classroom, and he has carved nasty words into the top of his desk, and other parents are getting mad at you for what your kid has done to their kid.
That’s when love is tested.
That’s when the question gets harder,
“am I going to sacrifice everything so I can be there for my child or not?”
Our God sees himself as our redeemer, the family member who bails us out when we get in trouble.
In the Hebrew Testament, Abraham’s nephew Lot made a foolish decision to settle in the immoral city of Sodom.
One day Sodom was raided and Lot and his family were captured to be sold as slaves and all his property was stolen.
Well, old Uncle Abraham took off in hot pursuit with his servants and they made a surprise attack upon those raiders and he got his nephew back out of trouble.
In one of the most incredible stories of the Bible, the prophet Hosea had a wife who betrayed him, having affair after affair.
Finally she left him altogether.
She became a prostitute.
Then one day he found her up for sale in a slave market, used up, spiritually hardened, embittered. And Hosea redeemed his wife. He bought her out of slavery and he brought her home again and he cared for her and he loved her.
I hope we never come to speak of God’s love for us lightly.
He has paid such an impossibly high price for us.
Jesus died on the cross to redeem us from our sins.
He has put his precious name upon us, and we have repeatedly brought high dishonor upon that precious name.
But he’s our parent, our teacher, our husband, our redeemer.
He has invested so much in every single one of us we are precious in his sight.
Now go outside look around, walk around, drive around your neighborhoods.
Do you see anyone who is not absolutely precious in God’s sight?
We all probably can find someone who rubs us the wrong way.
We can all find somebody whom we know or at least suspect still needs a lot of God’s shaping before they are finished.
Let’s help each other spot them, anybody who is somebody who still needs some of God’s exclusive shaping, a lot of God’s shaping raise both your hands.
We all should have our hands up.
We may see somebody we suspect is off in exile right now, feeling very far from God, desperately grasping at straws trying to get their life back under control.
Maybe you can see that they aren’t making wise choices in that desperation.
Maybe they are uncomfortable to have around.
Maybe you can see they still have a lot of rough edges that need trimming.
But is there anyone in all of those neighborhoods who is not absolutely precious in God’s sight?
Remember how Solomon’s Temple was carefully built? It’s when the stones all come together out of the quarry, they are first hewn, then by struggle, brought to the area where they are to be placed, fitted close together that imperfections show up and out and final trimming can happen and all the stones be perfected.
He loves us when we are unlovely.
He is so committed to us that he keeps working on us, chipping away on our rough edges.
Sometimes he uses us to knock each other’s rough edges off.
Sometimes that person who just doesn’t seem to fit near you at all is just the exact person you need to show you, reveal, what work you still need done.
Verses 5 and 6 talk about God gathering the scattered Israelites from the four corners of the earth, north, south, east and west, gathering them together.
How many of us will walk or drive south today?
How many of us will walk or drive north today?
How many of us will walk or drive east today?
How many of us will walk or drive west today?
How many have rely on GPS to get around?
Look around you – at all those neighbors and all those neighborhoods too,
He’s gathering the stones to build something here. I don’t know yet all of what it will be. But every last one of us has a place because every one of us is precious.
And when he brings us stones close together and things start to rub, we can be tempted to push away.
But what kind of building can God build if the stones refuse to be shaped?
Or they themselves insist on leaving big gaps between themselves, or they look at that stone that just came in from the quarry and they see the rough edges and they say, send it back, we don’t want it, it is not precious, just throw it far away?
No, God brings us together so we can see the spots that need trimming down.
And the closer we come to one another and the more we rub against each other the more opportunity we have to grow and be conformed into his image.
And so when we feel the rubbing start to happen, we don’t push away.
We need each other.
We are all absolutely precious in the sight of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit!
We need to learn how all of God plans to fit every single one of us together.
We need to learn to lovingly adapt our lives to each other.
We need to learn to talk things out when there are rough spots.
We need to see through God’s eyes, that every one of us is precious in His sight.
Take a walk through your neighborhood – Pray for all of those precious to God.
Take a drive through your neighborhoods – Pray for all of those precious to God.
Start a new Christmas tradition ….
Unleash our PRECIOUS God ….
Unleash His PRECIOUS Son Jesus Christ ….
Unleash God, the PRECIOUS Holy Spirit ….
Imagine all of the precious Miracles which are about to unfold before you ….
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
To our God and soon coming Savior, I give You thanks. God, I pray today that You will reveal the fullness of yourself to me and each of those placed in my life. As we walk and drive around our neighbors and our neighborhoods, May we each have that precious encounter from the One and Only true and living God. I pray that the desires of our hearts shall be to seek after You that we may know You, experience You and we will all learn how to be men and women precious after God’s own heart, Amen.