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Scripture
Isaiah 43:1-4

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to
yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

Observation
This a passage is one of reminders which speak hope and reassurance to all who know God as Lord of their lives. It echoes the creation verses recorded in Genesis 1:1 and 2:7 in that, just as God created the world in the Genesis passage, so the author of Isaiah reminds the people God created Israel in the same way. The nation’s existence is not an accident but is God’s creation.

God’s exhortation to His people to ‘fear not’ is a repeat of His words recorded in Isaiah 41:1 and 41:5. This repetition increased the sense of God’s people belonging to Him. The reference to passing through the waters and not being swept away by the flooded river would remind Isaiah’s readers/ hearers of the time when God parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River for
them (Exodus 14:21-22 and Joshua 3:4-17).

The mention of fire echoes the story of Daniel’s friends when they were thrown into the fiery
furnace and emerged without harm. It is interesting to note that the author of Isaiah refers to an occasion when we ‘walk’ through the fire. There is no sense of hurry or alarm for those who follow Christ know there is no need to be afraid.

So the people are not to be afraid because:

  • They belong to God who had both created and redeemed them. Such belonging is personal because He knows them and calls them by name. He has more in store for them, so how can they be afraid? He has, in fact, created them for His glory.
  • The author of Isaiah goes on to refer to this purpose in verses 43:18-19 : Forget the former things do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
  • The people of Israel were be stuck in slavery at this time – but God still had plans for them and they were not to become discouraged or mired down in their current situation. His people, Israel and the Church, are not to worry about the details. God has it all in hand.
  • God had already brought them out of slavery once and could do so again.
  • Trouble is inevitable. The passage does not say ‘if’ but ‘when’ people pass through waters,
    floods and fire, but still they are not to be afraid.
  • God reminds the people who He is: I am the Lord, your God.’ In this way He echoes the
    words He spoke to Moses in Exodus 20 as He gave His people the Ten Commandments. As a result the people know they can trust God to take them out of their current situation to their own land.

No power can destroy Israel; and equally, no power can destroy the Church. Christ is here just as He promised.
Those who follow God are precious in His eyes. Precious means more than just loved. Something that is precious is considered to be of extreme value, priceless, something to be cherished. Such a declaration changes both a person’s opinion of themselves and of their future when they know they are precious in God’s sight.

Icebreaker:
Which historic Christian has influenced you in your Christian walk? Why are they so special
to you? If you do not know of any, brainstorm with your group or one or two Christian
friends as to who you can research and report back next week giving a couple of facts about
that person.

Application

  • How important is your faith heritage to you? How have you become aware of it – through
    your parents’ influence, your family heritage, your reading and studying, your church?
    What role has it played in your life?
  • How has such a heritage helped you through these days of pandemic?
  • How do you feel about letting go of how things were and moving forward to the new
    things God has planned for you – even if you are not aware what those are at this
    time? Are you willing to ‘unfreeze’ to allow yourself to ‘refreeze’ in a new shape to
    accommodate change? Do you welcome change or reject it? What does the concept of
    change do to you?
  • As the shape of Church changes, how do we hold one another in a deep sense of
    connection? How can you build meaningful relationships with one another? What do
    you need to have a meaningful relationship?
  • Are you able to say, with Julian of Norwich ‘All is well and all will be well’? Why/why
    not? How do her words make you feel in relations to your own life?
  • Julian of Norwich did not pray that God would remove her from her difficult
    circumstances but rather than He would give her the strength and courage to be
    involved. How can you do this? What does involvement look like for you?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?

Prayer
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time,
giving focus to the strength and courage you may need to walk through this time with Jesus; and in regard to other needs of the group.

Service
Choose one of the fathers or mothers of your faith to research this week. What one thing can you discover about them to share with others which will encourage them to look to the future with new vision? How can you use this to be intentional in building relationships for change?

Bibliography
Adeyomo, Tokunhoh, et al. Africa Bible Commentary. WordAlive Publishers, Nairoi, Kenya, 2006

Isaiah Chapter 43

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