“But now, this is what the Lord says: he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord , your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.” (Reference: Isaiah 43:1-3 )
The prophet Isaiah portrays a Lord who adamantly claims God’s people. If God’s people wanted to wiggle free, they could not. It is both comforting – in terms of not needing to fear – but also a little foreboding because much might be expected. I say this because the writer of Isaiah not only speaks of comfort but of discipline and taking God’s people to task for not living right. But in this portion of Isaiah there is no condemnation.
What I find interesting is that the writer of Isaiah has the Lord saying that the Divine has ransomed God’s people, paying a great price; more than the wealth/health of Egypt, Cush, and Seba. (These were enemies of God’s people and were destroyed in order that God’s people should be safe.) The Message says, “Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” To me that foreshadows God’s Son paying the price for our sins.
I did not know if the “commentators” would agree with me or not, so I “consulted” with one of them, and he did. But he (the commentator, Matthew Henry) also said that it was odd that God said “Fear not” because in the proceeding chapter of Isaiah God’s people were being verbally “spanked” by God for their behavior. But there is no paradox here – when you are “owned” by someone that Someone gets to moderate your behavior and set standards. And if you do not meet those standards, you can get into trouble. So beloved, accept the comfort and security if you will, but then you must also accept the consequences. However, we know that Christ our Savior said do not fear, my burden on you is light and my tasks are easy.
May you beloved take comfort in being claimed by God, knowing you have nothing to fear – except the Lord! Selah!