September 30, 2008
But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
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.
For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you,
and people in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
The words of Isaiah 43 are about Israel and God’s faithfulness to the nation, yet they have an application for the Christian as well and how reliable our God is to fulfill His promises to us. Because God is sovereign His children can follow Him with confidence, trusting Him to guide and supply our spiritual and physical needs.
We are in the midst of a worldwide financial crisis, and no one knows where this will all end. Perhaps in a few days or weeks we will all see some improvement and breathe a collective sigh of relief; perhaps it will take months or even years to see some real improvement. But every child of God can be at peace in this moment by taking to heart the promises of God’s word to provide for His own.
The context of these promises above is the return of Israel to Jerusalem physically and to God spiritually following the Babylonian captivity. The Church has been grafted into the olive tree of Israel (Romans 11:17) and now “share in the nourishing sap” of the experience of Israel with God. So the promises of God to Israel are precious to the Christian. These words in Isaiah 43 have to do with the fulfillment of God’s redemptive will for His people, and are of particular help to us in times of financial problems. When we speak of the will of God it is essential we understand the redemptive aspect of God’s will, and not just the prescriptive aspect.
In the prescriptive sense, God wills the best for His children to help us avoid problems and by His justice we often experience the results of poor choices we make. But the hand of God does not end its work in our lives at the point of our failure, for if that was the case, then the entire human race would be without hope since we have all, since Adam and Even, failed to walk in the will of God in all areas of our lives. Even the best among us is far off the mark of perfection in God.
In the redemptive sense, God wills His children to be forgiven and cleansed, redeemed and restored, and to be set back into a privileged position of hope for the future. God deals with us on the basis of His grace, and grace is what the world needs for we have all sinned and fall short of His glory. We can come to God humbly but confidently in our moment of need and even failure. He has created us and recreated us in Christ Jesus. He has planned for us to know Him and to be found in Him from before the world was created, that he might lavish on us with all wisdom and understanding the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:4-8). God’s redemption is primarily spiritual in nature, yet it also has physical and material applications in this life.
God is active in the affairs of men and He is our Provider. He acts with compassion and mercy for His children out of His great purpose for our lives and in consideration to our weaknesses. His actions are not just limited to spiritual blessings but include the provision of the material needs of His children, as Our Lord taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” He provides jobs, provides finances, gives wisdom, hope, creativity, and incentives for the meeting of our physical needs.
Even when financial problems are the result of our own mistakes, the Lord promises to be with us as we “pass through the waters” and “walk through the fire,” on our way back to Him. We should pray with confidence for our peace and prosperity in this time of need. We should also seek to be His hand of redemptive grace to others and seek to grow in compassion toward others as we grow in confidence in Him. The Lord watches over His own.
Lord, we know that this world is not our home, and that our boasting must be in You and in Your love demonstrated on Calvary. One day we shall lay aside the tent that is this body and put on the indestructible body You have prepared for us. In this life we can expect problems and even persecutions, but Lord we can also expect Your help and rescue. We lift up to You the financial markets of the world that provide livelihood and the means of employment to the world’s population; we pray for political leaders and business leaders, that they have have the wisdom they need to resolve the challenges we face today, as wel pray also for their salvation. We lift up to You our own financial situations and ask for Your provision. Give us this day our daily bread. Give us peace in this time. Amen.