Saturday 14 January 2012

Bible Book:
Isaiah

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

Isaiah 43:1-13 Saturday 14 January 2012

Background

This final passage of the week returns to many of the themes wehave already encountered over the last few days. We are remindedthat the one and only God, who both created and then redeemed them,has not forgotten them but instead now calls them by name (verse1).

Therefore there is no need to be frightened about the politicalturmoil around them. God is working through this to ensure God'sown 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 systemwas based around the principle that it was up to the individual whowas wronged, or their family, to bring a person to justice. Forinstance, if a person became so poor that they had to sell theirland or even themselves in to slavery, then the next of kin (theredeemer), if they had the ability, was charged with maintainingfamily honour by stepping in to buy the land or the family memberback. They were redeemed and restored to where they rightlybelonged.

Isaiah describes God as the redeemer of Israel. God had created,called and chosen her. She belonged to God and now that Israel wascaptive it was God's responsibility to buy her back, in this caseby offering Egypt and Ethiopia as a ransom (verse 3). Although itwas Cyrus who allowed the Jewish exiles to return home it was hisson Cambyses who conquered Egypt in 525 BC. But this was all partof God's work because of God's great love (verse 4). It also hasclear parallels with what the Gospel writers thought God was doingin Jesus Christ (eg John3:16).

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

To Ponder

Does the concept of redemption cause difficultiesfor Christians in our society? Why?

God calls us all in different ways and todifferent tasks. Listen for God's call to you today.

Meditate on these words: "Do not fear, for I amwith you" (v. 5).

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