But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; 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. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. – Isaiah 43:1-7
I have taken an extended break from my walk with water. No great reason just a confluence of mid-terms, flu, and a professional conference that left me with a deficit of energy for the last several days. I am over the flu, mid-terms are graded, and the conference is behind me so I am back on the water today.
This verse begins by reminding Jacob, Israel, and us that we belong to God. Sometimes it is reassuring to belong to someone, especially when that someone is God. He has summoned us by name and we are his. What does it mean to be God’s possession? Can we possess God while He is possessing us? It is a bit like playing tag with God as we pursue, and are simultaneously pursued by, God.
I confess ever since the movie Exorcist the idea of being possessed by something has taken on decidedly negative connotations for me. In that movie being possession by the devil created all manor of strange and scary behavior. Possession by God should produce the opposite result, but I digress… back to the water reference in this verse.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” In this instance water is being referred to metaphorically as a barrier or something that can “sweep over us”. The great crossing over occurred back in Deuteronomy 31:1-8 when the people of Israel entered the promised land after their sojourn as desert people. This crossing over was the beginning of a new relationship with, and reliance on, God.
Another major “passing through waters” occurred when the Jews were escaping Pharaoh and his gang at the Red Sea and Moses had the lead and God had their back. I feel like what God is referring to in this passage is more like the red sea crossing than the crossing of the Jordan, but in the words of Forrest Gump, “I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time”. God wants us to boldly cross over scary waters that separate us from Him to the Promised Land where he exists.
God finishes with the comforting command “Do not be afraid, for I am with you”. That is essentially the same message that Jesus brought when He came to earth. In John 14:27 Jesus says “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” We are simply to “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— everyone who is called by my name.” We are to help fellow travelers find their way to the One River so that He may help them cross into the Promised Land.
Prayer: God thank You for helping us to cross mighty waters and find our way to You. Help us to boldly pursue You even though You are always with us.