Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Isaiah 43

Isaiah 43 is divided into four sections which make up a chiasmus. Ludlow divides them thusly (361):

A. Israel's future gathering (v. 1-7)
B. A trial scene of God before Israel and the other nations (v. 8-13)
A' Israel's future blessings (v. 14-21)
B' A trial scene between God and Israel; present Israel merits condemnation (v. 22-28)

Jacob and Israel

Ludlow makes a note about the use of the names Jacob and Israel to reference the same person. He says that Jacob and Israel are used together seventeen times between Isaiah 40 and 49 (363). Isaiah 43:1 is an example of how the two names are used together. He further states, "It is the order of the two names that makes the repetition significant, for "Jacob" nearly always precedes "Israel," hinting, perhaps, that a change in Jacob's character prompted the Lord to change his name also. Jacob, the "supplanter," who worried about his relationship with his twin brother, Esau, became Israel, the "prevailer," who worked together with God to overcome wickedness. (See Bible Dictionary "Jacob"; "Israel.")"

Do we not also take upon us a new name? As we are born again and truly become converted to Christ, we take upon ourselves the name of Christ. We become a different person, casting off our old selfish selves and in turn begin to work with God in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Isaiah seems to be teaching the Israelites that they too need to cast off their old selves and become true Israelites.

Water and Fire

In Isaiah 43:2 the Lord promises to be with Israel as she passes through the waters and through the fire. The water will not overpower her nor will the fire burn her.

Ludlow suggests that this verse alludes to baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Another layer of symbolism may be how the Lord delivered Israel through the Red Sea and protected her from the fiery serpents as she left Egypt.

Similarly, we must repent of our sins, be baptized by one who has authority and then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we do so, we are delivered by the hand of the Lord from spiritual captivity.

Promise of Gathering

In Isaiah 40:5-6, the Lord promises that all of Israel, including the Ten Lost tribes will be gathered from east, to west, from the north and the south.

Ludlow discusses the modern-day manifestation of this gathering as a Jewish nation was organized in 1949 and how Israel the nation has thrived in the midst of her enemies.

No Other God, No Other Savior

One of the common arguments against the LDS church and restored Gospel is that we believe in multiple gods (God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost). To support their argument, many will exclusively use the last phrase of Isaiah 43:10. Taking it out of the context of the verse and chapter, the phrase seems to support their argument. But in reading the entire verse and chapter, the true meaning of the phrase becomes clear.

The Lord Jesus Christ or Jehovah was addressing the world and Israel. He called Israel to be His witness. Ludlow states, "Israel is not only God's special witness, but also his servant to the world, and her inspired records are to go to all people. No other nation can give a similar witness of its gods." (367)

"Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

"I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour" (Isaiah 43:10-11)

This idea of no other God formed before or after Christ means that there was and is only one Savior provided. The way to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father is to follow Christ. He provided the way and we must follow him. In John 14:6, Christ offers a similar statement, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

For more on this subject of one God vs mankind's ability to become like God, read this entry from my other blog.

Israel's Future Blessings

The Lord will bless Israel with many blessings including: freedom (v. 14), miracles in the sea (v. 16), protection from every enemy and army (v. 17), a restoration (v. 19), and miracles in the desert (v. 19-20) (Ludlow 368).

One of the most fascinating things to see, speaking personally, is how the modern nation of Israel has been established and flourished right in the midst of her enemies. I have always been awed by how Israel has been able to hold back every Arab state that surrounds her. To me, Isaiah 43:17 has been, is being and will be fulfilled.

In Isaiah 43:21, the Lord states the reason for his blessing Israel … "they shall shew forth my praise."

Israel's Sins, the Lord's Mercy

In Isaiah 43:22-24, the Lord accuses Israel of many sins. In the face of all of Israel's sins, the Lord offers mercy (Isaiah 43:25).

"I, even I, am he that blotteth out they transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."

As the Lord stated earlier in Isaiah, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

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