I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord , the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, “Surely they are my people, children who will be true to me”; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them. Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people— where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses’ right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for himself everlasting renown, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble; like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord . This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name. – Isaiah 63:7-14
This passage begins in a relatively straightforward way with the author praising God and all “his compassion and many kindnesses”. God responds to this praise by saying “Surely they are my people, children who will be true to me”; and so he became their Savior.” God became their savior and their redeemer….the Gospel of John says it this way “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
The passage gets a little confusing in the next sentence when it says “In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.” How can god be distressed? In what sense were the people distressed? What were they distressed about? I looked up the term “distressed” and found an interesting history and meaning. Apparently the word is based on the Latin word distringere which means ‘stretch apart’. This meaning sheds light on the the situation being described here. God is feeling stretched apart from His people and His people are feeling the same way.
“In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old”. This is the God who has said he wants to carry us like a son or daughter, but the people seem to have a hard time seeing this redeemer God. They want to look back to the Mad Max God who parted the Red Sea for them and was a more tangible leader for them. They seem to to be torn between a God who protects them like Iron Man and the Son of the Man. They are looking for the “glorious arm of power” that was at Moses’ right hand, rather than the arm of God who came to die for us on the cross.
Prayer: God help us to see beyond the seas you have parted to see the savior You have sent to redeem us.