The Birth of a Nation
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Isaiah, chapter 43. We are going to be looking at verses 1-7. These verses should be considered in the light of chapter 42, particularly the last paragraph of that chapter.

Review

Let me refresh your minds about what we found in chapter 42. We discovered that chapter 42 was a prophecy of the First and Second Coming of Jesus Christ, with the Christian dispensation being described as intervening between these two particular comings.

The Lord Jesus Christ was presented as the Servant of Jehovah, the One whom God had blessed and the One in whom He had placed all His trust and upon whom He had placed all of His hopes for the nation of Israel. He was presented to a nation that did not want Him. You remember that John expressed it in the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 12: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” That was the Jewish nation.

In the last part of Isaiah, chapter 42, you will notice verse 19:

Isaiah 42

19Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD's servant?

You will recall that this was a reference to the nation of Israel, who was proud of her own perfection, yet was blind. Look at verse 20:

Isaiah 42

20Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.

You recall, we took you to Romans, chapter 2, and farther on in Romans to emphasize this particular thing. Now, verse 22:

Isaiah 42

22But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.

God said that because this people had turned their back on the offer of a Messiah, they were as a people robbed and spoiled. Yet, they didn't seem to know the reason for it. They weren't even interested enough to ask why. In verse 23, we read:

Isaiah 42

23Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?
24Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? [God asks the question. Now He answers it] did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.
25Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.

I did not want to stop here in our last lesson, but we had to because of time. This portion sounds as though God is so horribly angry with His people, He will never repent. It sounds as though because He is angry with everybody and nobody pleases Him. He is interested in no one at all. But verses 1-7 of chapter 43 change that picture. That is the reason I say that it should be read in conjunction with chapter 42.

As we read these verses, will you keep in mind the backdrop upon which we present these verses:

Isaiah 43

1But now [the scene changes] thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
3For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
4Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
5Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
6I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;
7Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

We are going to look at this passage of Scripture from two standpoints—one from the standpoint of interpretation and the other from the standpoint of application. You are aware of the difference in the meaning of those two words. The interpretation refers to the primary meaning of the passage, to whom is it addressed, and what it is actually talking about. The application refers to that portion of it which can be applied to our own hearts and lives as we carry on with God and for God.

God Created the Nation of Israel

As far as the interpretation is concerned, may I suggest to you first that God says three things about the nation of Israel which you might pass over with one reading without recognizing the importance of them. In verse 1, He said, “I have created thee Jacob.” I want you to notice the word created . It is the same word that is used in Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1, when God said, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It is the Hebrew word bara , and it means “to create out of nothing.” You need to make a note of that, because He is not generalizing when He addresses Himself to the nation of Israel and, using the term figuratively, He is literally making a statement of tremendous import. He said, “I literally created the nation of Israel as I created no other nation.”

You say, “What about the Americans? Didn't He create us?” Let's say that He created Adam and Adam had descendants. Among the descendants of Adam are the individuals who we call Americans today. So you see, it is not the same thing. He took nothing, and out of that nothing, He made the nation of Israel.

If I were to ask you with whom the nation of Israel began, I dare say that most of you would say, “Abraham,” because that is what most people say when they are asked that question, but the nation of Israel did not begin with Abraham. The nation of Israel began with Isaac. Remember that God gave a promise to Abraham that Sarah, his wife, would give birth to a son. Sarah overheard the Angel of the LORD talking to Abraham. She was in the tent; they were outside. She laughed and said, “How ridiculous! A woman my age is way past the age of childbearing, and my husband is also. It is impossible! How foolish can you get?” The Angel of the LORD heard her laughing and He said to her in so many words, “You will be laughing on the other side of your face, because you will give birth to a child.” God took Sarah's womb, which was long dead, and the seed of Abraham, His friend—for Isaac was not born of a virgin—and created in the womb of Sarah something that was not there, something that was created in a special sense and a special way. The nation of Israel was created in a very special way as no other nation has the right to say.

God Formed Israel

Another thing that God says about Israel is in this same verse. It is found in relation to the word formed . The first thing He said about Israel was that He created Israel, and then He said that He formed Israel. You say, “Isn't He repeating Himself? Isn't create and form the same thing?” Reading the Bible hurriedly, you might be content with that reading, but we would remind you that the word formed is from the Hebrew word yatsar , which means “to mold, “to form for a definite purpose.”

That may seem a bit strange to us, and yet I believe that if you study the Word of God carefully, you will find that God has a purpose for every person born into the world, and yet in a special sense God has brought certain people into the world as He brought Jeremiah into the world, the Holy Ghost being upon him even in his mother's womb. Here we are told that God formed—molded with a definite purpose—the nation of Israel as He molded and formed no other nation.

Of course, the purpose of Israel has been emphasized again and again, and we make brief reference to it here. The purpose of the nation of Israel was to reveal the knowledge of God to the world. In that sense, she is a chosen nation. Don't think for a moment that she was chosen because she is better than anybody else. Don't think for a moment she is any more lovable than any other nation. In most instances she is more unlovable, but God chose her for a special task. When He created Isaac in the womb of Sarah, He molded Isaac so that the descendants of Isaac would have this special ability to get the Word of God out to the rest of the world.

You say, “I don't see them doing it.” No, you don't, and that is the reason that they are in the sad condition in which they are in today. But, if you are familiar with the Word of God, you will recall that God puts them back on the main track of operation and turns them loose. They are going to do in three and one-half years what the Christian Church has not been able to do in nearly 2,000 years. They are going to evangelize the entire world in three and one-half years. That indicates that they have a special propensity that we as Gentiles do not have.

God Ransomed Israel

The third thing that God says about the nation of Israel is found in verse 3, when He says:

Isaiah 43

3For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

He said, “I have redeemed thee. I have ransomed thee.” This word redeemed is from the Hebrew word gaal , and the best illustration of the word gaal is the story of the kinsman redeemer. You recall how when Ruth came back home from Moab with her mother-in-law, Naomi, all was lost until Boaz discovered kinship with Ruth. When Boaz discovered kinship with Ruth, he had the money and he went to the elders at the city gate, and he said, “I want to buy all the inheritance of the husband of Ruth.” All of the inheritance had been sold for debts and for taxes. It didn't matter who had it, and it didn't matter what improvements they had put upon it, it didn't matter how badly they wanted it, they had to sell it to Boaz. Boaz bought the inheritance of the husband of Ruth, and redeemed her—ransomed her—and she became his wife.

That is the story back of the word ransomed and of the word redeemed . If you read the story of Ruth, you will discover the reason that Boaz did it: He had a great love and appreciation for her.

Glance down at verse 4, where God says, concerning the nation of Israel:

Isaiah 43

4Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.

When we speak of ransom and of redemption , we are not talking about the redemption of the soul; we are talking about the redemption of the literal nation of Israel. That is the reason He said, “I gave Egypt for thee. I gave Ethiopia and Seba for thee.” What did He mean? If you study the historical portion of the Word of God that fits in with this portion of the book of Isaiah, you would find that God permitted Egypt to be conquered in order that Israel would be spared. How could God do that? This is a special people. Though you may not be able to understand that and though you may not particularly like it, you have to recognize what is in the Word of God.

He said, “Not only have I given Egypt, but I will give Ethiopia and Seba for thee,” and 135 years later, that is exactly what He did. He permitted Ethiopia and Seba to be taken rather than the nation of Israel. He ransomed them by giving other people for their life, because He said that they were, in a special way, His people. These three things that He said about Israel indicate how important they were to Him. He created them, He formed them and He ransomed them.

Three Reasons to Not Be Afraid

I would like for you to notice what He said to Israel. Three things He said about Israel; notice now with me what He said to Israel. Go back to verse 1. These are wonderful words: “Fear not; don't be afraid.” If He had said no more than that, it would have been sufficient, but He gives three reasons they should not be afraid. Notice the last part of verse 1:

Isaiah 43

1…I have called thee by thy name…

You might read over that and think, “So what. That is not so marvelous.” But if you consider that phrase in the light of Oriental usage, you will realize why it can mean so much. This phrase, when it is used, speaks of a very close relationship and of a very great tenderness on the part of the person who expresses it. When an individual says, “I have always called thee by thy name,” he indicates how very tender he feels and how very much interested he is in the object whom he calls by name.

The Lord Jesus Christ used the same figure of speech in John, chapter 10, when He was speaking about the relationship He had with the believers, and He used sheep as an illustration. He said, “My sheep hear My voice. I know them, and they follow Me. I have called them by their name.”

This is an expression of great tenderness, and that is why you do not need to be afraid of God. God said to Israel, “Don't be afraid. Oh, I have spoken of judgment. I have spoken of the terrible thing that is going to happen to the unbelieving remnant, and I have no alternative to so speak, but if you believe in Me and if you put your trust in Me, don't be afraid. I have called thee by thy name.”

Notice in the last part of verse 1, where He says:

Isaiah 43

1…thou art mine.

“I have called thee by thy name, and thou art mine. If you have any doubt about it, let Me remind you that you belong to Me.” Oh, what comfort this will bring to the heart of Israel when they enter into the greatest tribulation ever known, when God will be able to say to them, “I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine; therefore, fear not.”

In verse 5, He repeats the words:

Isaiah 43

5Fear not: for I am with thee…

He said, “My presence will go with thee. I will give you divine protection.” He elaborates on that in verse 2:

Isaiah 43

2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

“When thou walkest, when thou goest, I will be with thee. My presence will provide protection that will preserve thee, so that in the future….” Notice verse 5:

Isaiah 43

5…I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
6I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;

Keep in mind that when Isaiah wrote these words, they had not yet gone into Babylonian captivity, but Isaiah looks down through the corridors of time and recognizes a dispersion not only related to the land of Babylon, but to the entire world, which the nation of Israel is going through at this very moment.

One of these days God will stand up and He will order the nations in the various parts of the world to give back His sons and daughters, and they will return to the land. You say, “Haven't they already gone back? They are there, and the nation is there, but they are there in unbelief. The only thing that God has had to do with their being there is to set the stage for this great ingathering that will come by and by. Of course, the fact that they are there and that the nation of Israel is a nation with a government of her own reminds us of how very near the end of the age we must be for if God has set the stage and gotten everything ready, all that remains is for His call to go out to the north and the south and the east and the west. We must be very near, I repeat, to the end of the age. This is what God said about Israel; this is what God said to Israel, and it will come to pass.

Each Individual Created for His Glory

In the remaining part of our study, I would like for you to consider the application of this passage of Scripture. We have a right to make an application, for we have a right to make an application of every passage of Scripture if that application is consistent with the Word of God. The Spirit of God has made an application here in verse 7, when He says:

Isaiah 43

7Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

God says that He has created every individual in the world for a specific purpose. What is that specific purpose? That specific purpose is for the glory of God. God formed us; God made us for His glory. Do you wonder why you are here? Do you wonder why you are on the earth? It is because God created you for His glory. You say to yourself, “I don't see how I could bring any glory to God.” Well, don't you worry about that. He created you for that purpose. He made you for that purpose, and all you need to do is yield yourself to Him. Yield yourself to Him and let Him work out in your life that for which He has destined you, and you will bring glory to His name. If you do stiffen yourself against Him, and if you do insist on your way instead of God's way, then there is no glory, and because God is jealous of His glory, He says in chapter 42, verse 8:

Isaiah 42

8I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another…

Because God feels that way, He deals sorely with individuals who do not give Him the glory that belongs to Him. That is the reason He deals sorely with the nation of Israel. That is the reason He deals sorely with you and me. We are created for His glory, and He must have it. He will not give it to another.

Passing Through the Waters

We have a right to make an application, and the application brings joy to my heart as we share these truths with you, because some of you may remember that verse 2 is the verse which God gave to us in 1962 as our year verse. You may not remember 1962, but I do. I remember that at the beginning of 1962, when the Lord gave me this verse, things were going so well that I wondered how there even could be any water or fire that I might pass through, but before the year was ended, I had passed through the fire, and I had passed through the water. If God had not given me this verse, truly I could not have born up under it.

We have a right to make an application even in relation to the fact that God has redeemed us, God has called us by name, and we belong to Him. That is true of every believer today. He redeemed you. He called you by your name. I wish you could grasp your personal relationship to God. It is hard for us to grasp. When we think of all the millions of people in the world and the great God, how could He be vitally interested in an ordinary mortal like me? We can't quite understand how He can, but we do know that the Bible is filled with illustration after illustration to encourage our hearts to believe that fact and to lay hold of that truth that I am important to God. He has redeemed me. He has called me by my name, and I belong to Him. How precious it is to know that! It is no wonder, then, that He would take time out of His busy schedule to speak in a very special way to my own heart in 1962, the words of verse 2:

Isaiah 43

2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Perhaps this verse does not have the personal meaning to you that it does to me, but I suggest that you mark it well in your Bible. You may need it as a source of comfort when you are passing through the waters.

This phrase, passing through the waters , is a symbolic phrase which the Spirit of God is pleased to use elsewhere in the Scriptures to speak of the difficult times through which His children sometimes are called upon to go. Turn to Psalm 69, and notice a Psalm of David. I don't know at what particular point in his life David was going through this particular hard time, but notice how he prayed about it, beginning in verse 1:

Psalm 69

1Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.
2I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
3I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.

Am I talking about some of you? Perhaps I am. I wonder if you have lived deep enough to have reached that state in your life where you are weary of your crying? Have you lived deep enough that you have reached that state where your throat is dry, where your eyes fail because there are no more tears to cry? You sense that the waters are rising, the rivers are overflowing, and you think surely they will overflow you, and you cry out to God as David cried out to God, “The waters are overflowing.” You will feel that way, but God gives you a promise. Go back to Isaiah, 43, and notice verse 2 again:

Isaiah 43

2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

They will get deep, and the rock that you're standing on will be slick, and you will slip off of it. You will sink in the mire, and the water may even get up to your nose where you will think that it will surely drown you, but it won't, for He has given you a promise: “The waters will not overflow you.”

Have you lived that deep, Beloved? Have you been in the water that deep? If you haven't, if you live long enough, you will be, and you will need the promise of the Word of God. It will be so comforting to know that when the rivers begin to overflow, and when the waters begin to rise, and you think that they will surely overflow you, they won't, for He will stay the water, before it gets too high. I can give personal testimony today to the fact that God has done that for me.

Walking Through the Fire

You will notice the last part of the verse, when He said, when thou walkest through the fire . Have you noticed what we have been reading? He didn't say, “If you pass through the water,” and He didn't say, “If you walk through the fire.” He said, “ When you do.” You see, you can expect it. The waters will come, and the fire will come. Fire? Ordinary, literal fire? This is a symbolic word. Typical of its use in the Word of God, it speaks of trials and tribulations that come your way, often undesignated and certainly unexpected. That is the reason that Peter said, in I Peter, chapter 4, verse 12:

I Peter 4

12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

He had to say, think it not strange , because we say, “Why is this thing happening to me? What have I done to deserve it?” Beloved, it may be happening for no other reason than that God had it on your schedule.

What a precious promise there is related to the second part of verse 2. Notice:

Isaiah 43

2…when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

You read that and say, “Well, it just means burned , but that is an interesting word. It comes from the Hebrew word kavah , which means “to blister.” God is saying, “You will walk through the fire, and you will not even be blistered. A blister will not even rise on you. It will be hot enough to, and you will think that you will surely perish, but there won't even be a blister.” That is how God will take care of you.

Notice the next statement: “Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” That word kindle comes from the Hebrew word baar , which means “to consume,” or “to devour,” or “to eat up.” We speak of flames literally eating up the building, flames eating up the woodpile. Yes, you will go through the fire, but don't be afraid, because when you go through the fire, you won't get a blister. You think it will consume you, but it will not, and you will wonder how it can last much longer without consuming you completely. God has promised that it will not consume you.

A very precious illustration of this is the story of the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. The furnace, heated seven times hotter than it had ever been known to be heated, and the three children of Israel were put into the fiery furnace. I have often wondered if they rested on this promise when they went into that fiery furnace, because what happened to them didn't happen until about two hundred years after Isaiah wrote this. They did have the books of Isaiah and the book of Jeremiah, and they did study them. That is how Daniel knew that it was time to pray about getting out of Babylon. I wonder if the night before they went into the fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said to each other, “You know, God has given us a promise that will do in a case like this.” He said that when we pass through the water, it will not overflow us, and when we pass through the fire, we shall not be blistered, and shall most certainly not be consumed.”

Did you notice what God said? He said, “Fear not; I'm with thee. I'm with thee in the water, and I am with thee in the fire.” How precious the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ must have been to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, because they did not only have the Word of God upon which to rest, they had the presence of God upon which to rely. You remember when the king looked in the fiery furnace, he saw not three, but four, and one of them was like the Son of God. It was as though God's Son came down to that fiery furnace and said to those three, “You have not only the Word that God gave to Isaiah, but I am here to reinforce it. The fire will not consume you.”

I trust that you have such a relationship to our Lord, that you rest not only upon the Word, but you are conscious of His personal presence, as He said:

Isaiah 43

2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Conclusion

I don't want the waters to come your way, and I don't want the flame to come, but I can't do anything about it; it will come. When it does come, I hope you will be nourished enough by a verse such as this, that you can go through the water, and through the fire victoriously.


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