The Pulpit Commentary

Isaiah 43:1-7 (Isaiah 43:1-7)

A RENEWED PROMISE TO ISRAEL OF PROTECTION AND DELIVERANCE . Severe rebuke ( Isaiah 42:18-25 ) is followed, as so often in Isaiah ( Isaiah 1:25-27 ; Isaiah 4:2-6 ; Isaiah 9:1-16 , etc.), by comfort and consolation. Israel is assured that God has not cast him off, and promised the comfort of the Divine presence during the existing tribulation (verse 2), and. a speedy restoration to Palestine (verses 3-7). The scattered Israelites will be brought together from all quarters by the Divine omnipoteney.

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Isaiah 43:3 (Isaiah 43:3)

The Holy One of Israel (comp. Isaiah 41:14 , Isaiah 41:20 , with the comment). Thy Saviour. He who had saved them front Pharaoh ( Exodus 14:23-31 ), from Jabin ( 4:1-24 .), from Midian ( 7:1-25 .), from the Philistines ( 2 Samuel 8:1 ), from Zerah ( 2 Chronicles 14:9-15 ), from Sennacherib ( Isaiah 37:36 ). The term is first used of God by David in 2 Samuel 22:3 and Psalms 106:21 (if that psalm be Davidical). It is also applied to God once in Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 14:8 ), and once in Hosea ( Hosea 13:4 ). With Isaiah, in these later chapters it is a favourite epithet, being used of God no fewer than eight times (see verse 11; Isaiah 45:15 , Isaiah 45:21 ; Isaiah 47:15 ; Isaiah 49:26 ; Isaiah 60:16 ; Isaiah 63:8 ) With his eye fixed on the deliverance of Israel out of the double captivity of sin and of Babylon, he naturally had much before him this aspect of Jehovah. I gave Egypt for thy ransom , etc.; rather, I have given ; that is to say, "In my counsels I have already assigned to the Persians, as compensation for their letting thee go free, the broad countries of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba." Even the latest date assigned by sceptical critics to "the Second Isaiah" would make this a most remarkable prophecy. Egypt was not reduced, nor was Ethiopia made tributary to Persia until several years after the death of Cyrus, whose son, Cambyses, effected the conquests about b.c. 527-6. Human foresight could not, in the lifetime of Cyrus, have predicted with any certainty what would be the result of collision between Egypt and Persia; much less could it have ventured on the improbable supposition that the remote Ethiopia would submit itself to the Achae-menisn yoke. Yet this was the result of the invasion of Cambyses, who made Egypt a Persian province, and forced the Ethiopians to submit to the payment of an annual tribute (see Herod; 3.97; 7.69). And Seba . If "Seba" is "the land of Meroe, which is enclosed between the White and Blue Niles" (Delitzsch), it may be questioned whether really this ever formed a portion of the Persian empire. But Isaiah has probably no very distinct knowledge of the geographical position of Seba, or of the relations between the Sabaeans and the rest of the Ethiopians. He couples the two together, both here and in Isaiah 45:14 , as forming two portions of one nation. The subjection of the Ethiopians involves, in his eyes, the subjection of the Sabaeans. And we cannot say that he is wrong, since it is not at all clear that the Sabaeans were not generally spread through Ethiopia, or at any rate scattered in various parts of the country.

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Isaiah 43:1-7 (Isaiah 43:1-7)

The love of Jehovah to Israel.

"But now." The word itself hints yearning affection. There has been a conflict between Divine love and Divine wrath, and the former has gained the victory. In fact, the wrath of Jehovah was but grieved affection. Its force is now for the time spent. He will now deliver and protect, reassemble and restore his people (Cheyne).

I. IT IS THE LOVE OF A PARENT . "Thy Creator, O Jacob; he that formed thee, O Israel." Of all the works of God, confessedly the noblest is man; and if man is only known as forming nations, these too are the works of God. And Israel especially is the embodied thought of God, in her laws and institutions, her place and mission in the world. Or, if we think of Israel as gradually fashioned, by schooling and by affliction, into a "new and singular product," not less is she endeared to her Maker and Builder. We cannot but love our children; and scarcely less dear to us are the children of our brain and of our heart—our schemes, our books; the house whose structure we have planned, whose arrangements have been made after ideas of our own; the flock we have overseen; the little body of disciples or friends whom we have made an organization for the diffusion of our views of life. That delight we feel in the reflected image of our mind in what is not ourself, we transfer by analogy to God.

II. IT IS THE LOVE OF A REDEEMER . And this implies sacrifice, love proved by expense of some sort. The tense gives a reference to history and to prophecy—past and future. No price can be too high for the ransom of Israel: other nations will be given up—Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba—for her. Cambyses, son of Cyrus, conquered Egypt and invaded Ethiopia. The Persian was destined to set free the chosen People; and those other peoples given into his hand as compensation are the ransom price for delivered Israel. If the "wicked are a ransom for the righteous" ( Proverbs 21:18 ), if the sufferings of the evil are in some way connected with the deliverance of the good,—this helps to shed a consoling light upon many a dark page of human history. But not only the suffering of the evil may be thus viewed—the suffering of the good also, in the light of the great saying, "The Son of man came … to give his life a ransom for many"—for the greater or spiritual Israel in all ages.

III. IT IS AN APPROPRIATING , SPECIALIZING , HONOURING LOVE . TO "call by name" is an expressive phrase for selection and election. So was Bezaleel the artist called in connection with the tabernacle-work ( Exodus 31:2 ); so was Moses called by name ( Exodus 33:12 , Exodus 33:17 ) and designated for his work. It is to "find grace" in the eyes of God; it is to be precious and honourable in his sight. It is to be a "peculiar treasure" ( Exodus 19:5 , Exodus 19:6 ), a property of the Eternal—"mine art thou." We are led into the heart of the covenant-relation by these words. And every association of affection and good which has belonged in the thought of the world to the spiritual bond which knits soul to soul, may be used to illustrate Israel's relation to her God—that of child to parent, of client to patron, of confidential servant to lord, of soul to guardian spirit or angel, may be thought of in this connection. What is true of the nation must be true of its individuals; what holds good of the Church must be valid for the life of each Christian.

IV. IT IS AN ALL - PROTECTING LOVE . Israel shall go through water and through fire unhurt. No stronger figure could be used for safety amidst calamity (cf. Psalms 66:12 ; Daniel 3:17 :27). We may think of the salvation of Israel from the waves of the Red Sea, of the three children in the furnace at Babylon, of the ever-consuming yet never-consumed bush seen by Moses. These things are parables of the indestructibility of the spiritual life in mankind , and of the perfect integrity of the empire of souls, ruled by the redeeming God. From the east and the west and the north and the south, these scattered souls are to be gathered to their home. Impossible to limit such words to any temporal reference merely. The bounds of time fade away as we listen; and there rises before us the inspiring picture of the world as one vast scene of trial, of education, of an elect people to eternity—in which many sons are being brought to glory, that glory the reflection of God upon their renewed spirits.—J.

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Isaiah 43:3-7 (Isaiah 43:3-7)

The goodness of God to man.

The abounding grace of God to the children of men is brought out very strikingly here. It is seen in—

I. THE HIGH PURPOSE FOR WHICH HE CREATES US . "I have created him for my glory." There is no end so lofty in itself and so elevating in its influence for which God could have made mankind as this. It is for this, primarily, that the very highest intelligences in the heavenly spheres have their being.

II. THE PROFOUND INTEREST HE TAKES IN US . "Thou wast precious in my sight I have loved thee." God regards the children of men ( Psalms 33:13 , Psalms 33:14 ). He attends to their requests, and meets their wants ( Psalms 145:15 , Psalms 145:19 ). He pities them in their griefs ( Psalms 103:8 ). He yearns over them with parental love (see Isaiah 31:1-9 :20; 2 Peter 3:9 ). He disciplines them with parental solicitude ( Hebrews 12:5-11 ).

III. THE HONOUR WHICH HE CONFERS UPON US . "Thou hast been honourable." In Christ Jesus we are honoured in many ways. We are "made priests and kings unto God." What manner of honour as well as of love the Father hath shown us, that we should be called the sons of God; and that we should also be made his heirs , and also "labourers together with him" ( 1 Corinthians 3:9 )!

IV. THE SACRIFICIAL MEANS HE EMPLOYS ON OUR BEHALF . "I gave Egypt for thy ransom … I will give men for thee." That which is of immeasurably greater value than gold or silver, than property of any kind —men , human lives, God would give for Israel. For us he has given that which is of far greater account than any nation or any multitude of men—his own well-beloved Son: "God so loved the world," etc.; "He spared not his own Son;" "He gave himself" for us.

V. HIS PURPOSE TO GATHER HIS CHILDREN TOGETHER to one place of rest and joy ( Isaiah 43:5 , Isaiah 43:6 ).—C.

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Isaiah 43:3 (Isaiah 43:3)

God the Savior.

"I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour." As we know God, he is a Triune Being—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and Scripture traces the whole work of salvation to God thus apprehended. Salvation is not the work of one Person of the Trinity, but the work of the whole personality of God. This is the truth which may be unfolded from the expression in this text.

I. SALVATION IS THE WORK OF THE DIVINE TRINITY . This is variously taught in Holy Scripture, but the most complete and precise expression of the truth may be found in Titus 3:4-6 , which Conybeare and Howson render thus: "But when God our Saviour made manifest his kindness and love of men, he saved us, not through the works of righteousness which we had done, but according to his own mercy, by the laver of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he richly poured forth upon us, by Jesus Christ our Saviour." The love of God appeared. The regenerations and renewings are by the Holy Spirit. And that Divine Spirit is shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ. God is our Saviour. Jesus Christ is our Saviour. The Holy Ghost is our Saviour. And yet we have not three Saviours, but one Saviour. Young Christians, in the earlier stages of religious apprehension, are wont to grasp firmly the one truth—Jesus is the Saviour. Many Christian people grow old in experience without coming to realize that this is a central truth, which has another truth on each side of it. On one side this truth—God is. the Saviour. On the other side—the Holy Ghost is the Saviour. Jesus Christ is declared to be God "manifest in the flesh;" God the Father manifest , so that we may apprehend him; and God the Holy Ghost manifest , so that we may realize his gracious inworkings. We know God the Father and God the Holy Ghost through Christ, the manifested Son. Such enlarging of our thought to embrace the full Divine agency in our redemption involves no kind of dishonour to the Lord Jesus. In his part and sphere he is the only One, the only "Name." As the Manifester and Mediator , he stands alone. His sphere is manes earthly life; he is God with us. He shares our humanity; bears a human name; lives through a human, lot; perfects an obedience in the flesh; endures the final testing of a painful and ignominious human death; and in his redemptive work in the human spheres he has none to share with him. When we speak of separate Persons in the Divine Trinity, we must apprehend the most absolute unity of purpose in them; and the differences of operation which we can trace are simply gracious modes of reaching men so as to be a perfect redemptive power on them. The Father-God, in his Divine fatherly love, initiates the redemptive purpose, and forms, in his infinite wisdom, the redemptive plan. God the Son executes that part of the Divine plan which required manifestation in man's earthly sphere—in the sphere of the senses. God the Spirit is entrusted with that part of the Divine plan which concerned man's inward state—the renewal of his mind and feeling and will.

II. THE ONE FOUNTAIN AND SOURCE OF OUR SALVATION , WHATEVER ITS FORM OR ITS AGENCY MAY BE , IS THE DIVINE LOVE . "We are saved by grace." We too often speak of the "mercy" of God, as if it were only an attribute belonging to him. Nay, it is far better than an attribute—it is God: "God is love." But when that love gains expression in man's sphere, so that we may apprehend it, we find it is working out a marvellous purpose, even the full redemption of a sinful race; and we see it in the blessed life of the redeeming Son and in the inward grace of the renewing Spirit. But all is of God. All is of free, sovereign, unbought, unconstrained, unmerited love. He saved us. He sent the Son. He sheds the Spirit. It is our Father in heaven whose fatherly love pitied us, yearned for us, and found the gracious ways in which to bring the prodigals home, and to make the prodigals sons again. It is the " grace of God that bringeth salvation." We may have laid hold of the truth that Christ for us is the Gift of grace. It may be that we need to gain firm hold of that other and answering truth, that the Holy Ghost in us is the Provision of grace. We want more than the doctrine concerning these high things. We want a living impression, which gives to them practical and persuasive power on our hearts. When we can really feel that our salvation is throughout, from beginning to ending, from predestination to calling, from calling to justification, from justification to sanctification, and right through to glorification, wholly of grace, then the last lingering confidence in our own doings will pass right away, and we shall rejoice altogether in " God our Saviour."—R.T.

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