"I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:1-2
This verse comes from the second half of Isaiah and is written to give the Israelites hope after the exile has ended. This verse uses imagery to remind them of where God showed up in their history.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you” would remind them of Ruth and her “family-redeemer,” Boaz; the great-grandparents of King David who was a part of Jesus’ family line. (Ruth 2:20 & 4:13-22)
“I have summoned you by name” would remind them of how God called Samuel and spoke to him in the middle of the night. (1 Samuel 1:3)
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” would remind them of when Pharaoh's army was chasing them down to re-enslave them and God parted the Red Sea so they could walk in freedom. (Exodus 14)
“When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” would remind them of when Joshua led them out of the wilderness and into the promised land. God parted the Jordan River to remind them of the parting of the Red Sea. (Joshua 3:13-17)
“When you walk through the fire you will not be burned” would remind them of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and how they refused to bow to another god and they were thrown into the fiery furnace, yet did not burn. (Daniel 3)
When God says “I will be with you” He means it. It may look like the redemption of a family or the generosity of others. It may sound like Him waking you up at two in the morning with inspiration, encouragement or a verse. It may be freedom from personal captivity. It could be Him leading you to promise and being with you in battle. It may be Him standing with you in the fire so that you are not “set ablaze.” (Daniel 3:25)
Isaiah was reminding the Israelites of all the ways the Lord had been with them from before they had a kingdom to how He was with them even in exile. In the same way, we can look at our own history and see God in the redemptive parts and the everyday moments. We can bring to mind when He has brought us freedom and came through on His promises. We can even remember when He didn’t remove the battle or the fire or the grief, but he stood there with us. Like the Isrealites, through Jesus, we are His people and just like the Isrealites returning from exile faced with rebuilding their lives in their new reality, He will continue to be with us. Our hope is in His presence, regardless of if He chooses to part the seas or just stand with us. With Him we are not alone.
Ashley Wambach, President/Executive Director
Originally posted Sept. 18, 2020