4 December 2013

Isaiah 43:1-13

"I have called you by name, you are mine" (v. 1)


In today's passage we are reminded that the one and only God, who both created and then redeemed them, has not forgotten them but instead now calls them by name (verse 1).

Therefore there is no need to be frightened about the political turmoil around them. God is working through this to ensure God's own people are gathered back in their homeland.

The concept of redemption is one we are less familiar with today, but at the time these words were written the Jewish legal system was based around the principle that it was up to the individual who was wronged, or their family, to bring a person to justice. For instance, if a person became so poor that they had to sell their land or even themselves in to slavery, then the next of kin (the redeemer), if they had the ability, was charged with maintaining family honour by stepping in to buy the land or the family member back. They were redeemed and restored to where they rightly belonged.

Isaiah describes God as the redeemer of Israel. God had created, called and chosen her. She belonged to God and now that Israel was captive it was God's responsibility to buy her back, in this case by offering Egypt and Ethiopia as a ransom (verse 3). Although it was Cyrus who allowed the Jewish exiles to return home it was his son Cambyses who conquered Egypt in 525 BC. But this was all part of God's work because of God's great love (verse 4). It also has clear parallels with what the Gospel writers thought God was doing in Jesus Christ (eg John 3:16).

This passage ends with one of the clearest statements yet of monotheistic belief. No god can be made (verse 10) and no god can save people other than the God of Israel (verse 11). Even Cyrus the Great, the pre-eminent ruler of the age, acted according to God's divine plan, and all the nations of the world will see that for themselves (verse 9).

To Ponder

  • Does the concept of redemption cause difficulties for Christians in our society? Why?
  • God calls us all in different ways and to different tasks. Listen for God's call to you today.
  • Meditate on these words: "Do not fear, for I am with you" (v. 5).

Bible notes author

Dr Richard Vautrey

Richard Vautrey is a local preacher and church steward in Leeds, and a former vice-president of the Methodist Conference. He works as a GP, is an elected member of both the BMA council and Royal College of GPs council as well as being the deputy chair of the BMA's GP committee.