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This is the ninth message from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. From the previous message, we started learning the fifth part of the book of Isaiah, which is in chapters 40-55. The content is mainly prophecies of salvation by Jesus, the servant of the Lord. Chapter 40 talks about the salvation of Zion by the Almighty God. The Savior will be our shepherd, embrace us in his arms, and He will strengthen us. Isaiah gives readers this challenge to walk with this savior. In Chapter 41, the work of God as a liberator is prophesied. This prophecy came true when Cyrus King of Media conquered Babylon and set Israelites free from the Babylonian captivity. Isaiah 41:4says,「Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning?…」This passage says that God himself, works as a liberator, not people. In addition, God calls Israel a friend and promises to redeem them (41: 8, 14). Chapter 42 mentions about the true servant figure. The word “my servent”(42:1) applies to believers and prophets who were left in Israel, but it also applies to Jesus, who became the ultimate figure of servant. Just like 42:4 mentions, the whole world is waiting for this Savior (42: 4). In Chapter 43, the image of God who redeems Israel is beautifully expressed. Today, we would like to learn Chapter 43 focusing on the love of God. Now, please read Chapter 43.
In Isaiah 43:1, God speaks to Israel,「But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.」The Creator God speaks to Jacob, Israel. God speaks to Israel, “You are mine.” Israel, a group of believers, have experienced special calling and help from the Lord. They were rescued from slavery in Egypt. In verse 2, it mentions about the history of Israelites, and said,「When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. 」(Isaiah 43:2 NIV) God chose Israel, His people and protected them. Verse 3 says,「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.」(Isaiah 43:3 NIV) This passage explains there is God who walks intimately with us believers. In verse 4, God speaks to Israel,「Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.」(Isaiah 43:4 NIV) It’s a really beautiful expression. God speaks to each of us in the same way. Because of God’s love, we are forgiven of our sins and we are saved. At the same time, we have to be aware of this fact, that each of us have to make decisions to accept God’s love. Verse 5 says,「Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.」(Isaiah 43:5 NIV) This can be understood as the prophecy that the Israelites will return to their promise land from the Babylonian captivity, as well as the prophecy that many will be gathered by Jesus at the end. It seems that Isaiah has seen Israel released from the Babylonian captivity returning as new people. Now, how did the deliverance from the Babylonian captivity happen? It happened through God establishing a throne of Cyrus King of Media. The King allowed the captives to return to their homeland, granted them freedom of worship, and even commanded them to pray for his kingdom. Such political measures came true as God worked through the heart of King Cyrus. At the same time, God also worked through the believers of the God of the Bible in Babylon.
Isaiah used this expression in the last part of verse 3, “I give Egypt for your ransom.” God will bring righteous judgement to all people. The experience of the exile of the Israelites was also God’s righteous judgement to Egypt. This passage in verse 3 prophesies about Egypt facing the judgement by King Cyrus at the time of the liberation of Israel. Salvation has two sides. Those who believe will be saved. But those who do not believe will face God’s righteous judgment. There is a way of living having faith in the light, and there is also another way of living in darkness without believing. (Preference; John 3: 16-21.)
In verse 10, it is written “You are my witnesses.” The Jewish people share the testimony of God the Creator. The same is true for us who have experienced God’s love and forgiveness. We become witnesses and share the testimony of how you got saved. Verse 11 says,「I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.」(Isaiah 43:11 NIV)
We are forgiven of our sins by this Savior, and we will become witnesses and share our testimony.
Verse 19 says,「See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?」(Isaiah 43:19 NIV) God brought judgement to Babylon and Egypt who became prideful. God speaks to us to let go of our pain in the past. God Himself will start something new in your life.
Verse 25 says,「“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.」(Isaiah 43:25 NIV) This word is the conclusion of today’s message. We are saved because of the love of God, who speaks to us, “You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you.” We cannot earn salvation by our good deeds. It is by God’s will and the work of God’s grace that brings us salvation. I am really thankful for that. Let’s receive God’s love every day. Let us receive God’s salvation with faith and become His witnesses to share how much God has changed our lives.