Mark spoke from Isaiah 43:1-4 this morning, particularly looking at verse 2 which says “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.”

When the Bible talks about ‘waters’ in this way, it is talking about chaotic, stormy seas. The Hebrew word ‘mayhim’ (somewhat reminiscent of our ‘mayhem’) is also used in Gen 1:10 and indicates uncontrollable water forces. Water can be dangerous as well as beautiful, and the circumstances described in Isaiah 43 are anything but pleasant.

In Isaiah 42, God’s judgment has been poured out on Israel because of their disobedience and sin (‘burning anger…. violence of war‘), but in Isaiah 43 we see God renewing His covenantal promises and speaking of His unfailing love. God’s ‘but’ is big! When He speaks, He changes the situation around from punishment to protection and acts as our Redeemer. He is the God of the second chance. We are owned by Him, but that does not simply imply slavery and duty; we are cherished and protected by Him.

When we pass through the waters, it is not a pleasant experience. Mark talked of the film ‘The Perfect Storm’ which recounted the story of the crew of the Andrea Gail which got caught in the Perfect Storm of 1991. That film gives a graphic account of fierce storms at sea:

Nonetheless, whatever the circumstances, God has promised to bring us through the waters and help us to stand in the fast-flowing waters of rivers. He gives us His presence to guide us and lead us through. Similarly, fire is a terrifying experience to have to go through (think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego), but God has promised to bring us through these circumstances. He will never leave us or forsake us.