14 January 2015

Isaiah 43:1-7

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

Psalm: Psalm 77


After decades of exile, it would be understandable that those affected would feel that their suffering would never end and that they would never see their homeland again. An apparently powerless people were subjected by much more powerful rulers, and for most all hope must have evaporated. However the words in today's passage are meant to counter that hopelessness, and remind those listening not only about their history but also that their God has not forgotten them.

The exile was a key moment in Jewish history, but so too was the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12). As slaves in Egypt, oppressed by a powerful ruler, the situation must have felt pretty hopeless then too, but Isaiah reminds readers that the Israelites passed through "the waters" of the Red Sea (verse 2) as a result of God being with them. The "fire" mentioned in the same verse may also be a reference to the iron furnace of Egyptian slavery (Deuteronomy 4:20; Isaiah 48:10). God was their saviour then and will be again. Out of love for people God not only cannot let them go, but will travel with them through adversity.

God is also prepared to pay any price that is necessary to 'redeem' God's own people (verse 1). Egypt, Ethiopia and Seba, almost all the known area of Africa, are offered in exchange for the exiles (verse 3). Israel may be far smaller than these other countries but it is like the most precious stone, worth giving anything for in return. As a result, and because God loves them so much, God will reach out to people where ever they now are across the world. North, south, east or west, God's love will know no boundaries or barriers and will find them and like a mother hen, gather her children in.

To Ponder

  • Pray for people on the fringes of your church or community, that they may feel God's love and know that they have not been forgotten.
  • Remember a challenging time in your own life and give thanks that God travelled with you throughout.
  • Pray for Israel/Palestine, where the gathering in of Jews from around the world and the subsequent building of settlements has led to so much conflict and tension.

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.