Year C – The Baptism of the Lord – Isaiah 43:1-7

Is 43:1–7 NRSV – “1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. 4 Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; 6 I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth— 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Summary – Like much of Isaiah 40-65 this text speaks of the return of Israel to the Land and the blessings that come with these fulfilled promises. God here promises redemption and that they shall pass through the water and fire without harm as their offspring return and are gathered. The words tenderly emphasize that God sees Israel as precious. They were created for the Lord’s glory. One of the interesting parts of this promise is the language of exchange. ” I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you . . . I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.” This refers to what God gives Cyrus (Is. 44:28) who will make the way for Israel’s return. Cyrus (and son) will conquer these places.

Insight – One of the greatest fears we have is rejection. A slight word of disapproval, an angry look or worse can make us miserable. Personal rejection is much more powerful when it is from someone we truly care about. Israel as a people had fallen into idolatry and immorality and because of this they were exiled. In many ways the people that desired to be faithful to the Lord could have believed that they had been rejected by the Lord forever. Many were tempted to believe that God was no longer their Savior or Redeemer but had cast them off. Yet, this passage is a rich set of promises confirming God’s acceptance of His people, “I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” In other words, God makes clear our redemption, call, love, and adoption. This even more evident after Christ has come. We are in Him and Christ is true Israel, therefore we are truly loved and accepted.

Catechism  – Why should we not fear? Because “I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Discussion – What are some ways that you have experienced rejection? What is the basis for our acceptance before God?

Prayer – Heavenly Father we thank You for these precious promises to Your people that come to us through Jesus Christ. We believe that we are redeemed and called and that we are Yours in Him. Grant now that we so walk in this confidence that we may please You, serve our neighbors and use our gifts for Your glory. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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