But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
In this text we have
I. A charge given—"Fear not." A righteous, godly fear the believer may have; but the cowardice of the world, which is loud to boast, and slow to act, and quick to doubt—which is prone to distrust even the Almighty and disbelieve the All-true—this he must never know. It becomes neither the dignity of his calling nor the faithfulness of his God.
II. A reason assigned—"Thou art Mine." These words were spoken to Israel after the flesh, and to them they still remain a covenant of peace, sure and steadfast for ever; yet as the relations named—Creator, Redeemer, and Saviour—are not peculiar to them, but are enjoyed in the same degree by every believing heart, we may safely take to ourselves a share in this animating promise. The certainty of the believer's hope does not depend on our holding God, but on God's holding us, not on our faithfulness to Him, but on His faithfulness to us.
III. A protection promised. This does not consist in any absence of trial and danger; the expressions of the text rather imply their presence, many in number and various in kind. The protection promised in the text consists in the constant presence with the soul of its unseen but Almighty Saviour. The preserving hand will never be withdrawn, and the grace of the Comforter will strengthen and cheer the soul still in its sorest times of difficulty and distress.
E. Garbett, The Soul's Life, p. 204.
References: Isaiah 43:1.—R. Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 88. Isaiah 43:1-4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1895.
Isaiah 43:2(with Dan. 3)
The text contains
I. A pre-intimation of trouble. Although we have not in it a distinct assertion or prediction of particular trials, yet it is most clearly and strongly implied that the chosen people would have to go through them. God never deceives us. He never foresees one thing for us and tells us to expect another. He meets us, so to speak, in plainness and candour, and He says, My ways are ways of ultimate happiness, but not of proximate. Tribulation is the very cause of religion's peculiar blessedness,—the very parent and producer of its inconceivable peace. Those who have most of the sorrow invariably taste most of the joy.
II. A promise of Divine succour and deliverance. The very same passage that intimates sorrow and leads us to expect persecution for the sake of Christ, assures us also most encouragingly of strength equal to our day, and of grace to help in every time of need. The promise assures us (1) of the Saviour's sympathy in our trials, "I will be with thee." What Jesus promises to His chosen is not the mere succour of aid—it is the succour of a helpful sympathy. (2) Mark the kind of sympathy it is. It is not the sympathy of weakness that can only weep with us, but hath no power to give us assistance. But this is the remarkable and blessed thing in the sympathy of Christ—it is human sympathy allied to Almighty power. This sympathising Son of God is the Creator and Controller of flood and fire. There is promised to all His tried and faithful servants both succour and salvation, defence and deliverance.
R. Glover, By the Waters of Babylon, p. 133.
References: Isaiah 43:2.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii., No. 397; R. Glover, By the Waters of Babylon, p. 133. Isaiah 43:3.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1831. Isaiah 43:4.—Ibid., vol. xvi., No. 917, vol. xxviii., No. 1671; Isaiah 43:6.—Ibid., vol. xvii., No. 1007; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 296. Isaiah 43:10.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 52; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 229, vol. xii., p. 134; Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 106; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi., No. 644; J. Hall, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 270; J. Kennedy, Ibid., vol. i., p. 424. Isaiah 43:16.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vii., p. 354. Isaiah 43:19.—T. Stephenson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 209. Isaiah 43:21.—J. J. West, Penny Pulpit, No. 348; Homiletic Magazine, vol. ix., p. 165.
Isaiah 43:22I. The nature of this evil. To be weary of God is to desire to break the connection that exists between us and God. It is to be impatient of continued connection with Him; to be tired of calling upon Him; tired of thinking of Him; tired of trusting Him; tired of waiting for Him; tired of serving Him.
II. The nature of this weariness will appear further if you look for a moment at the forms in which it is shown. (1) This weariness is first shown by formality in Divine worship, (2) in the outward neglect of Divine requirements, (3) in not looking to God for aid and succour, (4) in the setting up of false gods.
III. What is the occasion of the manifestation of this weariness? You will generally find one of the following things—disappointed hope, the endurance of affliction, or the prosperity of the wicked.
IV. God's dealings, God's dispensations, may be the occasion of the springing up of this weariness, but we cannot charge it upon God. Its cause is to be found either in the absence of love or in the feebleness of love.
V. Look at the bitter fruits of this weariness. God sees it, and He cannot see it without feeling it, that would be impossible. What feeling, therefore, must spring up in the Divine nature? It cannot be joy and it cannot be complacency. What can it be but anger, what but displeasure? And displeasure does arise. God is angry and He corrects, and He corrects so as to make the chastisement answer to the sin. The man has, to a cer tain extent, withdrawn from God—God withdraws from the man. He deprives the man of whatever influences are tending to promote his peace and joy and rest. And if the heart be alive, if it be a quickened heart, this state is one/of great misery until the soul is restored to God.
VI. What is the prevention, or rather, the means of prevention? Ejecting the first hard thoughts of God, not yielding for a moment to indolence in the service of God; following Christ implicitly in the conduct of the spirit towards God; cherishing most sacredly the influences of the Holy Spirit.
VII. And when you have fallen into this evil state, what is its cure? (1) The full confession of the weariness. (2) Admission of the Divine goodness in the correction by which you are made sensible of your weariness. (3) Return to the careful observances of God's ordinances and precepts, the obtaining of pardon, and the assurance of forgiveness.
S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Pulpit, 1st series, No. 19.
References: Isaiah 43:22-24.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1895. Isaiah 43:24.—Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 144.
Isaiah 43:24-25I. Consider the ground on which Israel is reproached. Sweet cane, or calamus, is an aromatic reed which was an exotic in in Palestine, and is chiefly to be found in India. The demand for sweet cane was great, because it formed an ingredient of the incense in most countries where incense was used. It was one of the things which could not be obtained by barter. The charge is, "You do not neglect the offices of religion, but you perform them carelessly; you do not withhold your offerings, but you do not offer of your best." Bad is the best that man has to offer to God; but less than our best God will not accept.
II. When did the King eternal, immortal, invisible, serve? When was God, the Omnipotent, wearied with our iniquities? When did the Judge of the earth blot out our sins? We, enlightened by the gospel, can give an answer which Israel of old could not. We answer, "Then, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," when God in the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became incarnate. He came to serve, and when we think of Him, the God-Man, serving under the law, is it possible for us to ask, in the spirit of a slave, How little can I render unto the Lord for all His benefits? what is the least that He demands, the minimum of duty? The great principle is this, that we never offer unto the Lord what costs us nothing, or what involves no thought or trouble. He will not accept the refuse at our hands. And this principle we are to carry out in all that relates to our moral conduct and religious life. It is applicable to our private devotions as well as to our public services. It is implied in our Lord's injunction, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."
W. F. Hook, Parish Sermons, p. 186.
Isaiah 43:25There is one thing that God always does with sin. He removes it out of His presence. God cannot dwell with sin. When He casts away the guilty soul into an unapproachable distance, and when He pardons a penitent soul and lays it upon His bosom, He is doing the same thing equally in both cases,—He is removing sin absolutely and infinitely.
I. Consider the Author of forgiveness. The expression, "I, even I," is not a very unfrequent one in Holy Scripture; but wherever it occurs—whether in reference to justice or to mercy—it is the mark of the Almighty, at that moment taking to Himself, in some special degree, some sovereign prerogative. Here, the magnificent repetition of that name, first given in the bush, was evidently intended to show one characteristic feature of God's love. He forgives like a sovereign. All His attributes are brought to bear upon our peace. The pardoned sinner stands upon the Eternal, leans upon the Infinite, and looks out upon the unfading.
II. The nature of forgiveness. (1) As to time. Observe, the verb runs in the present tense—"I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions." (2) As to degree. "Blot out." You could not read—Satan could not read—a trace where God's obliterating hand has once passed. (3) As to continuance. In the text the present swells out into the future. He "blotteth out and will not remember."
III. The reason of forgiveness. Look back and find it in that eternal counsel, wherein, before all worlds, God gave to His dear Son a kingdom and a people. Look forward and find it in God's will, that there shall be a multitude of washed saints around the throne of His glory, who shall be sending up praises to Him for ever and ever. Seek it in that unfathomable love in which He is the Father—the loving Father—of every creature He has made.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 1874, p. 279.
References: Isaiah 43:25.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 94; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i., No. 24, vol. xix., No. 1142, vol. xxviii., No. 1685. Isaiah 43:25-28.—C. Short, Expositor, 1st series, vol. ix., p. 150.
Isaiah 43:26I. We cannot but remark at once on the apparent strangeness that there should be any appeal to reason or argument where the matter involved is undoubtedly the great doctrine of atonement or propitiation. A forgiveness based on a propitiation, and followed by sanctification, is what God propounds as His scheme of redemption, and such a scheme He invites us to discuss with Him in person. Let reason put forth all her shrewdness; there is no fear but that an answer will be furnished by your antagonist in this high debate. But if all the difficulties which reason can find in the way of redemption lie either in the necessities of man or the attributes of God, and if the scheme of redemption through Christ meet the first and yield the second, so that even reason herself can perceive that it satisfies every human want and compromises no Divine perfection, why should we not allow that, reason herself being judge, the gospel is in every respect precisely such a communication as is suited to the case?
II. The concluding words of the text, "Declare thou, that thou mayest be justified," seem to allow you, if you choose, to bring forward any excuse which you may have for not closing with that gracious proffer of salvation through Christ. Whilst we promise you upon the authority of revelation that God will blot out your transgressions and not remember your sins, we call on you to break away from evil habits, forsake evil ways, and attend to righteous duties. And here you think you have ground of objection. Well, urge it. It is God Himself who saith, "Declare thou, that thou mayest be justified." But the answer is, that the persons to whom God will communicate additional grace are those who in obedience to His call are straining every nerve to forsake evil ways. It is not that they are able of themselves to work out a moral amendment, but it is that He intends to bestow on them the ability while they are making the effort. We may, however, take another and perhaps equally just view of the controversy, which is indicated, though not laid open, by our text. Come, all of you who think you are in any way hardly dealt with by God. Approach and plead your cause. Keep nothing back; be as minute as you will in exposing the harshness of God's dealings, whether individually with yourselves or generally with mankind; and then, having pleaded your own cause, listen to the beautiful promise, "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."
H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2299.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;
Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.
Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth.
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.
Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?
Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.
I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.
Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;
Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow.
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.
This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.
But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.
Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense.
Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.
Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me.
Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.