But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
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 shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my sight,
and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Do not fear,
for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west
I will gather you;
I will say to the north, “Give them up,”
and to the south, “Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” (NRSV)
Oh what wonderful words of assurance Isaiah has penned! It is beautiful poetry of comfort and hope for a people who have felt cut loose, dishonored, disowned. Isaiah reminds the people who have languished in exile that they are the heritage of the one true God; the creator… The One true God that rescues…the One True God that accompanies.
This is the God who loves.
This is the only place in the scriptures where God speaks the words “I love you.” And these people needed to hear it spoken. “I love you” spoken to a people who were sure they were hated. “I love you” spoken to a people who were convinced they were forgotten. These are words of grace and mercy given to a people who only expected judgment and condemnation. They could not see their situation as a purification; as a new kind of wilderness experience after the form of their ancestors of old. But from my vantage point I see it. It is the same song, second verse.
Here is how I hear it from our point in history… not nearly as nice of poetry, to be sure, but a proclamation of God’s great mercy that is music to my ears and puts a song in my heart. It is a personal love song to Israel. That means it is a personal love song to you and me. Read it and receive it. It is written for you.
You think you know what reality is,
but now O my daughters and sons, hear the Truth from God.
Oh my people, the God who formed you into a people has not let go of you.
God says, “You are mine. You are mine. There is nothing to fear.
You are mine.
I gave birth to you. I named you. You are mine forevermore.”
When life overwhelms you and threatens to drown you, I will be with you.
When you are swept away by the currents, you will find footing in me.
When you are in the hot seat, your troubles will not define you,
and you will not be destroyed.
For I am the Lord your God.
I am the Holy One who is as much a part of you as your very DNA.
I am your Savior.
You are worth more than all of the riches of the ancient world.
You are worth more than all the produce of the fields of green.
Because you are precious to me,
Because I honor you
and I love you
I sent my Son to lead you to me.
I sent Him to bridge the gap between you and me.
Do not fear.
I am with you.
I will gather your legacy to you.
From the furthest reaches of impossibility
I will rescue your future.
I will command that which would confine your portion to release you.
Where you are depleted, I will say, “Do not withhold her increase.
Bring her destiny to her.
May her contribution shine in posterity.
Let her be an example.
May all who see her understand I am God.
My glory shines through her.
She is my shining creation.”
Blessings to you,
PS. If ‘she’ and ‘her’ aren’t your pronouns… feel free to substitute what works for you.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.