Main point summary
The redeemed have no need to fear, whether in trials or in question of their worth, because God is their Saviour and he loves them.
"Fear". Such a small word, but it brings with it powerful emotions, and draws forth from us negative experiences. Perhaps you think of a fear of rejection? Maybe a fear of failure, or perhaps a fear of the future. Whatever your fear, we know how paralysing this emotion can be. But, what this passage has to say to us today is that God's redeemed have no need to fear (verse 1b) But what does that look like? What does it look like to not fear? The passage gives three powerful examples, using imagery with regards to going through trials, which is probably the time when we are most likely to have fear. 1. GOD WILL BE WITH US (verses 2a-2b) Imagine a situation where you are a young child going through a dark forest. You would be terrified! But, now imagine that with you is your father. He is holding your hand, and he is confidently leading the way. How big of a difference that would make to that journey! But, how much more this should be for us, as we realise the promise that God is with us forever! The presence of God, both the one who created us (verse 1a) and our Saviour (verse 3a), should comfort us at all times, and therefore, we should not fear. 2. TRIALS WILL NOT OVERWHELM US (verses 2c-2d) The imagery used here is one of going through a river. Now, a river has a current that goes downstream, and as a result, depending on the strength of the current, more energy will need to be exerted. You can imagine that a powerful current relates to a really hard trial. But the promise here is that this trial will not overwhelm us - that no matter how strong the current is, we should not feel as though we are being 'swept away'. Another way to look at it, is that we won't be out of control - not because we're in control, but because God is the one who is in control. 3. TRIALS WILL NOT MAKE US FALL FULLY (verses 2e-2g) What does it mean that we will not be burned (verse 2f) in the imagery of walking through fire? Can it really mean that we will never be hurt? Surely not, because we know from experience that this is not true. So what is meant here then? The idea of being burned is clarified in (verse 2g) - it is this idea of not being consumed. The fire will not consume us. In other words, trials will not fully destroy us, that is, our faith (c.f. 1 Cor 10:13). God also affirms our worth as a means of encouraging us not to fear. He says that we are precious in his sight - that we have innate value! And he compares that value as being so high that He would ransom Egypt, Cush, and Sheba, and also any number of people! Furthermore, He tells us, "I love you." Pause and reflect on that... the God of this ENTIRE universe is saying something as intimate as, "I love you" to you! Not in a way where the phrase is thrown around casually in today's society, but instead saying that He has an 'agape' love for us! All of us need to let these words sink in for a moment. God tells me that I am precious before Him, and even more that that - that He loves me! He loves me so much that He would give up entire countries for me, and exchange entire peoples for me! But... as we know now, it is even more than entire countries that He gives up for us... The three uses of imagery in encouraging us what happens during trials, and also how valuable we are to God, are sandwiched by an amazing reason (that is, a Ground). And that is this: that God is our Saviour! (verse 3a) God showed how much he loved us by sending His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, that through his death, we might have an eternal relationship with Him. This is the greatest sacrifice of all - the greatest exchange. May that truth strike me with so much joy - so much joy that it would banish all fear from my mind. As it is written, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32
But now thus says the Lord, m he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
This is what God, the one who created you, says:
n “Fear not,
[ That is, he says ,] "Do not fear,
for I have redeemed you;
because I have redeemed you,
o I have called you by name,
and , I have called you by name (and thus intimately know you)
you are mine.
because you are mine.
p When you pass through the waters,
When you are going through trials,
I will be with you;
I will be with you;
and through the rivers,
and [ when you are going through trials]
they shall not overwhelm you;
the trials will not be too much for you;
p when you walk through fire
and when you go through trials that can really hurt you,
q you shall not be burned,
you will not be harmed,
and the flame shall not consume you.
let me clarify : the trial will not cause you to fall down fully.
For r I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
[All these things are true] because I am Lord your God and Saviour!
s I give Egypt as your ransom,
And therefore , I would give up Egypt to ransom you,
Cush and t Seba in exchange for you.
and Cush and Seba (entire countries!) in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
Because you are precious in my sight,
and held up high,
and I love you,
and furthermore , I, the LORD your God, love you,
I give men in return for you,
and therefore , I give up people to have you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
that is , I would give up people in exchange for your life.
(2a-2b) GOD WILL BE WITH US: The presence of God, the one who created us (1a) and our Saviour (3a), should comfort us at all times.
(2c-2d) TRIALS WILL NOT OVERWHELM US: In (2c), the imagery used is one of going through a river - you're fighting against a current. And the truth is that it will not overwhelm us; we shouldn't feel like we're getting "swept away". Another way to look at it is that we're not out of control - not because we're in control, but because God is in control
(2e-2g) TRIALS WILL NOT MAKE US FALL FULLY: In (2f), we can ask, does that really mean that we will never be hurt? No, we know from experience that is not true. But more than that, Isaiah clarifies what not being "burned" looks like in (2g) - this idea of not being consumed. I take that to say that trials will not fully destroy us, that is, our faith (c.f. 1 Cor 10:13)
When I go through trials, or when lies come in that cause me to fear, I need to tell myself these three truths: God is with me I will not be overwhelmed by this trial This trial will not cause me to fall away from faith
We should not fear, but what does that look like? God gives 3 images with regards to going through trials (which is probably the time when we are likely to fear).
MAIN POINT: The redeemed have no need to fear!
I need to let these words sink in for a moment. God tells me that I am precious before him, and even more than that... He loves me! He loves me so much that he would give up people and countries for me. But as we know, it is not countries he gave up, but the greatest sacrifice of all, His very Son, Jesus Christ. May that truth strike my heart with so much joy ---> I don't need to fear! (c.f. Romans 8:32)
SUB POINT: The powerful truths that we should not fear in trials, along with how precious we are that God would give up exchange entire countries for us, are sandwiched by an amazing reason (or Ground)! And that is this: God is our Saviour!