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Discovering the Message in Isaiah Chapter 43
by I Gordon
In Isaiah 43:16, the Lord introduces Himself as the one who makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters. This verse holds great significance to me because it came to me during a challenging period in my life. The central theme of this study is to convey the message that despite the difficulties we face and the apparent limitations we encounter, God is the one who creates a way even when there seems to be no way. It is a comforting truth that I want to share with you. Let me use a few different words, but the essence remains the same: if your faith in God is strengthened, knowing that He can make a way for you in your situation, then that is all you truly need to know.
The Context and Background
“I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” This is how the Lord introduces Himself in Isaiah 43:15-16. Throughout the book of Isaiah, the prophet foresees a time of great difficulty for the Israelites, a time when they would be taken captive by their enemies and exiled in foreign lands. Historically, we can see the fulfillment of these prophecies in the Babylonian exile in 586 BC. As the years in exile stretched on, and with their homeland and temple destroyed, the Israelites felt hopelessness creeping in. They questioned if their situation was beyond redemption. Is there a way out of this seemingly impossible and difficult time? Is there a way back home? In this desperate state, God intervened and spoke to them.
He Who Paved the Way
Verse 16 serves as a reminder from God to the people that He had made a way through the sea in the past. But what does the mention of the sea have to do with their current predicament? God is reminding them of their history, specifically the exodus from Egypt when the Israelites faced certain death. Let me give you a quick executive summary of that time as a little refresher: the Israelites, led by Moses, were pursued by the Egyptian army. In front of them lay the Red Sea, seemingly an insurmountable obstacle. But God parted the waters, creating a path for the Israelites to cross on dry land.
The Path of God and the Waters
It is important to recognize that even when we are following God’s path for our lives, it can lead us to face mighty waters. This is especially true if God intends to use us to help others. He does not want pretenders. If we are to comfort others, we must have experienced comfort ourselves (2 Cor 1:3-4). All of us will encounter challenging situations at some point in our lives. Isaiah 43:2 reassures us, saying, “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.” Notice that it does not say “if you pass through the waters,” but “when you pass through.” It is not a matter of if, but when. However, the most important aspect is that God promises to be with us throughout these trials. His presence makes all the difference.
The Journey Through and Beyond
We can be grateful to God for His ability to create a way when no natural way exists. He can make a path through seemingly insurmountable obstacles. However, this has positive and negative aspects. Let’s start with the negative and end on a high note.
In Isaiah 43:18-19, immediately after promising to make a way, God instructs His people to forget the former things and not dwell on the past. This might seem contradictory, considering that He had just reminded them of their past deliverance. Why would He say this?
I believe that there is a tendency for us to see the Lord as the God who was and the God who will be, but not as the God who is. We remember the great things God has done in the past and rejoice in them. We also look forward to what God has promised to do in the future and find hope in those promises. But what about the present? What about the “I AM” – the God of the present tense? That is what God wanted His people to focus on. He assured them that He would do something new and astonishing for them in their time. The children of Israel would no longer rely solely on stories from their youth about God’s deliverance in the exodus from Egypt. They were going to experience something incredible firsthand. God would make a way for them to return from exile and provide streams even in the desert. God is alive and active in the lives of His people, both then and now.
Conclusion: Praising God for the Way
As I mentioned earlier, this verse holds great personal significance for me because God gave it to me during a difficult time, and He did indeed make a way for me, honoring and fulfilling His word. The scripture in Isaiah goes on to say that He does this, so His people may “proclaim my praise.” You might find yourself in a situation where you see the mighty waters rising around you. The trials and difficulties of life may seem to have no way out. If that is the case, remember that God is the one who “makes a way.” May you also proclaim His praise as you trust Him once again.
“The Lord will make a way for you where no foot has gone before. That which, like a sea, threatens to drown you, will be a highway for your escape.” – Charles Spurgeon
The following are the lyrics to a well-known song inspired by this passage that captures the same theme as this study.