Friday, December 17, 2010

I Will Be with You, Isaiah 43:1-7, 11-12, Sunday School Lesson for 12-26-10

ATTENTION:  Please note that this lesson, I Will Be with You on Isaiah 43:1-7, 11-12 is for the 12-26-10 ISSL.  You will find the 12-19-10 lesson, The Mission of the Servant, directly beneath this message and on the right side.

Merry Christmas!


I Will Be with You
Isaiah 43:1-7, 11-12
International Sunday School Lesson
Jed Greenough

Isaiah 43:1-7

Israel’s Only Savior

 1 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.
2 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.
3 For I am the LORD, your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
   Cush and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
   and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you,
   and people in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
   I will bring your children from the east
   and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
   and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
   and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
   whom I created for my glory,
   whom I formed and made.”

Isaiah 43:11-12

11 I, even I, am the LORD,
   and apart from me there is no savior.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
   I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.

As with a couple weeks ago, the scripture as chosen by the committee for the ISSL, begins our lesson at a place that requires that we see what precedes what they have chosen since we see that it begins with a “but”.

It should be sufficient for us to go back no further than the 18th verse in the preceding chapter.  This section in my Bible is entitled Israel Blind and Deaf.

Isaiah 42:18-25 

Israel Blind and Deaf

 18 “Hear, you deaf;
   look, you blind, and see!
19 Who is blind but my servant,
   and deaf like the messenger I send?
Who is blind like the one committed to me,
   blind like the servant of the LORD?
20 You have seen many things, but have paid no attention;
   your ears are open, but you hear nothing.”
21 It pleased the LORD
   for the sake of his righteousness
   to make his law great and glorious.
22 But this is a people plundered and looted,
   all of them trapped in pits
   or hidden away in prisons.
They have become plunder,
   with no one to rescue them;
they have been made loot,
   with no one to say, “Send them back.”
 23 Which of you will listen to this
   or pay close attention in time to come?
24 Who handed Jacob over to become loot,
   and Israel to the plunderers?
Was it not the LORD,
   against whom we have sinned?
For they would not follow his ways;
   they did not obey his law.
25 So he poured out on them his burning anger,
   the violence of war.
It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand;
   it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart

From the beginning of this passage we see Israel being described as blind and deaf.  They are His messenger, they are the ones committed to Him, and they are His servant.  As such, they have so much but have paid no attention.

Through this people God made His glorious law for His righteousness-sake but yet for them, all that resulted was disobedience and in His anger God turned them over and if you know anything about Israel’s history you know it was not just one or two chances and recoveries but several.  His patience expired but He never stopped loving, never stopped redeeming, but oh, the price.

And so we find ourselves today with the lesson in Isaiah 43 beginning with that “But now.”  But now again, He calls them back, He redeems them; again He will see them through the testing that comes in life, the refining fires.

If you have ever tried to cross a rapidly moving water of any depth you know how impossible it can be without a walking stick or staff to support you against the massive weight moving against your body.  This is what I think about when I read verse 2 as I have tried it and you are just swept away, but with a walking stick to give you support you are able to keep your footing.  God will be that support without which the floodwaters will be too much.  Other tests symbolized by fire in this same verse remind us of His refining fire in which those who are His emerge with faith and purity.

These tests can come through whatever means God deems best to use for the time such as the conqueror Cyrus (Isaiah 45) as I am sure you will read in your studies of Isaiah or through countries such as Egypt (Romans 9:17), who may be raised up specifically for a time only to bring them down as a payment or a ransom for His purposes, His glory.

This is a facet of God that we are not able to understand, this giving of men in exchange for another.  This one that as the potter, He has the right to exercise as He alone knows how best to create His final creation and we in faith just need to accept that His ways are not our ways but His ways are just.

I hesitate to use the word example but really that is what Israel has been for us.  They have not accepted Him in faith.  Despite all that they had to see and hear from God they have been blind and deaf and He has punished them and then called them back, punished them and called them back.

Eventually, however the time runs out, eventually as we read in today’s verses 5-7 He will gather those sons and daughters who are called by His name just one last time.

Matthew 24:30-31 

   30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Let’s again read the final two verses from today’s lesson.

Isaiah 43:11-12 

11 I, even I, am the LORD,
   and apart from me there is no savior.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
   I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.

It really will be a final statement when He finally gathers those who have His name that He is LORD and apart from Him there is no savior but until then will we remember to be His witnesses or will we repeat the same error of the blind and deaf witness of the past?

For Discussion:

  1. Study the major occurrences in the Bible that record Israel’s history of punishment and redemption.
  2. Consider the latest and longest period of punishment and future redemption for Israel.
  3. Consider how you can apply verse 2 to your own life.
  4. Discuss verse 4.
  5. Considering how God treated His servant Israel when they failed Him, discuss what we Christians who are His servants can expect if we fail Him.

(Join me next week for the International Sunday School Lesson for January 2, 2011, I Am Your Redeemer, on Isaiah 44:21-26)

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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