God allows several trials to come upon His people and the earth and has been since the beginning of time. Our works will be tested by fire. He allows trials to be discipline or to develop perseverance in His people. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus (or COVID-19), there are no new perils for the eternal God. All suffering He endured on earth and is familiar with every heartache. Some trials will be judgment while others are meant for testing. This post will cover Isaiah 43:2-3 with an introduction of the Gospel.
To cover the entire historical significance of Isaiah would take entirely too long. This book is rich in history as it is in spiritual guidance. I will, however, write the key events that help set the stage for Isaiah.
Isaiah was the son of Amoz and was chosen by the Lord to be a prophet to the tribe of Judah during the reigns of these four kings:
Uzziah (also called King Azariah in 2 Kings)
The timeline Isaiah was a prophet span from 739-686 BC. The book of Isaiah portrays this prophet as coming from a family of status since he had easy access to these kings. He was married and had two sons. In his time, he not only served as a prophet but as a political and religious counselor. He lived until around 681 BC where tradition holds that he died at the hands of Manasseh, who ruled from 695-642 BC.
Jerusalem's History During the Book of Isaiah
Uzziah reigned for 52 years. His reign brought prosperity and Judah had developed into a strong trade and military power during this time. 2 Chronicles 26:3-5, 8-10, and 13-15 note that they had established a port on the Red Sea and had built many walls, towers, and other fortifications. Spiritual corruption was heavy in this land. Although Uzziah brought physical prosperity, Jerusalem saw spiritual depravity. Uzziah's Achilles heel was he assumed the position of a priest and burned incense on the altar (details listed in 2 Kings 15:3,4 and 2 Chronicles 26:16-19). God judged him by giving him leprosy (a skin disease that had no cure) that led to his death. Uzziah's son, Jotham, had to take over for his father and Assyria was becoming a powerful superpower under their ruler Tiglath-Pileser (who reigned from 745-727 BC). The Tribe of Judah was facing opposition from Israel and Syria. Jotham had inherited his father's troubles of spiritual corruption in the land and this did not change during his rule.
This is not a complete list of history, but it sets the stage for what is mentioned next and portrays ongoing spiritual depravity and a spiral of power being lost due to judgment from God.
If the New American Standard Bible is read, at the top of chapter 43, the title "Israel Redeemed" is listed. The context of this chapter is set in chapters 2-37, 41 and 42. Under the reign of King Hezekiah, Judah was threatened with an Assyrian invasion and was forced to pay tribute to them. Assyria became weak through internal conflict and King Hezekiah withdrew his support. The Assyrian king Sennacherib invaded the coastal territories of Israel and went through Egypt toward Israel's south. During this travel, he had invaded Judean towns and looted property and took many people for ransom back to his country. While trying to overtake Lachish, he instructed a side expedition to attempt to besiege Jerusalem (details listed in 2 Kings 18:17-19, and Isaiah 2-37:8). When this attempt failed, he sent messengers to try to persuade King Hezekiah to surrender. Through Isaiah's guidance from the Lord, King Hezekiah denied the offer of surrender. Upon listening to the Lord, King Sennacherib of Assyria and his army was met with a disaster and never attempted to destroy or overtake Judah again.
Isaiah 43 portrays Israel being addressed by Isaiah after he prays to the Lord for guidance since they have not listened to him. He instructs Israel to not fear for God has set them apart and to persevere under great trial for God has not abandoned them but their works will be tested by fire.
"But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn against you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place"(Isaiah 43:1-3, NASB).
This text above as with Jeremiah 29:11 has been quoted out of context on several occasions and the temptation to put ourselves into the stories is ever heightening. These verses are specifically spoken to the Kingdom of Israel as encouragement. God is encouraging Israel to put their faith in Him and to not waiver as the world waivers and that when trials come upon them they will not be overtaken or scorched.
For more instruction from the Bible, please see the following articles.
The Hush of 2020
Value of Fear
Below is a thorough study of Isaiah from Pastor and author John MacArthur from his ministry, Grace to You.
How Is Isaiah 43 Applicable Today?
Even though this passage was written specifically for the nation of Israel, it is still applicable today. One can't change history, even if they try to omit most of it from textbooks. The history of Israel is rich and full of ingredients we can still use today. There a few keynotes to take away.
God has not changed
History has remained the same
there is still both judgment and redemption
"Blessed is the nation whose God is their LORD" (Psalm 33:12)
Below is an article by Dr. Allen Ross at Bible.org detailing Isaiah 43, entitled "The LORD is the Gracious Redeemer"
For a visual guide of Jerusalem and the history of King Hezekiah, please see the following video by Rhoda and Sergio from their YouTube channel Rhoda and Sergio in Israel.
Below is an excerpt from my article, "The Close of 2019: Trading Temporal for Eternal."
God warns us that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, NASB). The birth pains of the world are on display. The tidal shift of change is prowling at the door. Contrary to this, there is an alternative to being engulfed in the world’s events. You can turn from sin and accept Jesus Christ.
Jesus stated that “for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:24, NASB)
Instead of the burning of an old era, you can experience the dawn of a new beginning eternally. You can trade temporal for eternal. Those who are teetering on the edge of decision, note the story of Antonius Felix in Acts 24. He also teetered on the edge of an eternal decision of salvation. God brought destruction to the Roman empire after Pontius Pilate handed Jesus over to the Jews to be crucified. Jesus was to be crucified to atone for sin; however, God still has to judge sin due to His perfect nature. In much the same way, you have a decision to make, reader. Let this not be the start of your forever away from Christ.
Resources for the Weary
John MacArthur preaches on the encounter with Felix and Paul here https://www.gty.org/library/study-guides/134/paul-on-trial.
For those that are hurting, there is good news. https://radical.net/sermon/advent-hope-for-the-hurting/
More resources can be found at https://www.livingwaters.com. It is an evangelic outreach program that helps break strongholds of addictions like pornography and drinking. The team witnesses to the lost and hurting.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to reign with Christ in eternity for the temporal treasures of this world. This world will end, and New Year's resolutions with it.
The full article is below.
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Lending a Hand
The numbers of the victims of human trafficking and the stories behind the numbers are why Blissful Faith is partnering with nonprofit organizations to help fund rescues and recovery programs for those entrapped in bondage. Each number is a person. You can be the one to help make a difference by purchasing a shirt (coming soon to the blog in a few weeks) or by ordering a downloadable product currently in the store, in which proceeds will go to nonprofits that seek to give a voice to the voiceless. See more on human trafficking from my previous articles below:
The Price of Freedom
Blissful Faith started as a lifestyle and branched into a blog to help others hear about Jesus Christ and how they too can develop a blissful faith through knowing God. This blog’s purpose is to be an evangelical outreach to further the kingdom of Christ. Furthering the kingdom means stretching outside of the comfort zone, comprehending and working towards meeting the needs of others. Putting faith to action keeps it from becoming stagnant.