Thursday, March 31
Reader: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.”
Response: “I have called you by name; you are mine.”
Scripture: Isaiah 43:1-7
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
I will gather you and your children from east and west.
I will say to the north and south,
‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
from the distant corners of the earth.
Bring all who claim me as their God,
for I have made them for my glory.
It was I who created them.’”
As I write this today, things in the world are very unsettled. Russia has just invaded Ukraine. Inflation in the United States is the highest it has been in forty years along with a host of other problems and many people are afraid . . . but you don’t need to be reminded of the current situation when you read a devotional! It just doesn’t help. What we can do is to pray. But most of us are powerless at the moment to cause any great change in the world situation. So how do we navigate these tempestuous waters?
Isaiah has powerful and encouraging words. I would almost say it is the “normal” situation in the First Testament―Israel is in big trouble, again. Israel has been plundered and the Lord is reminding them that they belong to him. His promised care of his children, Israel (Jacob), applies to all who become his children through faith in Christ. Note, he starts his encouragement with “I created you.” Those are comforting words both then and now. It is easy to think of this creation act of being true in Bible times. But while God created Adam, Esther, David, and Ruth, somehow it seems different when I apply the same idea to me. God personally formed me to be me just like Moses. God is the one who made me and I wasn’t even aware of it at the time. God goes on to redeem me and give me a name in the Lamb’s book of Life. Then we come to the beautiful phrase in the words of our Creator, “I called you by name and you are mine.”
What’s more, we then have the promise of his presence when we go through deep waters. In the last part of this passage, the LORD enlarges the number of his children to include all people from the far corners of the earth “who claim me as their God.” Then we have the beautiful reason for our coming into being―you and I were created to bring glory to God. In Ephesians, Paul picks up this same theme. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Eph. 2:10)
In the midst of so much uncertainty, we can still bring glory to God as I just saw and heard a large group of Ukrainians singing hymns in the underground subway stations in Kiev. (I’ve been on those subways when I was in Kiev years ago and some are 350 feet below ground level! They are some of the deepest in the world.) Remember, God speaking, “I have called you by name, _____________, you are mine. . . I will be with you.” (your name here)
Music: “The Lord’s My Shepherd” Rutter John Rutter conducting 800 voice choir in Los Angeles. Nancy and I had the joy of singing in this choir with our choir when we were in San Diego. You can see Nancy the fourth one from the left in row 36. I was in row 47!!
O Lord Jesus, may we not think of Thy coming as a distant event that took place once and has never been repeated. May we know that Thou art still here walking among us, by our sides, whispering over our shoulders, tugging at our sleeves, smiling upon us when we need encouragement and help. ―Peter Marshall from The Quiet Corner, p.28
Bonus: From The Chosen, Season 1, Episode 1 Jesus and Mary Magdalene as he casts the demons from her. In the story, her father taught her Isaiah 43:1 when she was a little girl to quote whenever she was afraid. I have found The Chosen to be helpful in gaining a better understanding of the humanity of Jesus. As of this writing, the various episodes have been viewed nearly 368,000,000 times world wide.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiStHMNE16Q