This is probably one of my favorite if not favorite passages in scripture.
But now, this is what the Lord says– he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, 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. (1-3)
The God who created us in the womb, who formed us into his masterpiece speaks here.
I have redeemed you. For the Israelites, this would have the idea of being led out of Egypt and the hands of their other captors. For us, it has a deeper meaning. That through the cross of Christ, we’ve been redeemed from the penalty of sin. That through his blood we have found forgiveness.
I have summoned you by name. You are mine. We are not just one of billions of people here on this earth. He knows us by our very name. And when he looks at us, he says, “You are mine, my beloved child.”
When you pass through the waters I will be with you. Jesus says here, “When the waters in your life become too deep for you and things seem desperate, just as I was with Peter, I will be with you, taking your hand and leading you over the waves of life.”
When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. Here he’s saying, “Whatever trials you go through in life, you will make it through. They will not overcome you as long as you trust in me.”
And then God goes on to say,
Because you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you. (4)
This is probably a reference to giving Egypt, Cush and Seba to Persia because of its kindness to Israel in letting the people return to their homeland. But in the same way, God considered us so precious, and honored, that he sent Jesus to die for our sins, taking our place on the cross. He was given in exchange for us, so great was God’s love for us.
And then he promised that no matter how far gone they were, no matter how scattered among the nations they were, he would bring them back. The same is true with us. No matter how far we have fallen from God, no matter how messed up our lives are, he will bring us back if we turn to him. No matter how blind or deaf we were to him, he will bring us back (8).
And now he calls us to be his witnesses. To not just rest in his salvation, but to bring his salvation to the ends of the earth. He tells us,
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.” (10)
What is the message that we are to give?
Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. (10b-11)
Or as Jesus said,
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14: 6)
So as God’s precious and beloved children, let us take Jesus out into this world that others may know him too.