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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Isaiah 43

Verses 1-3

Isaiah 43:1-3

In this text we have

I. A charge given "Fear not." A righteous, godly fear the believer may have; but the cowardice of the world, which is loud to boast, and slow to act, and quick to doubt which is prone to distrust even the Almighty and disbelieve the All-true this he must never know. It becomes neither the dignity of his calling nor the faithfulness of his God.

II. A reason assigned "Thou art Mine." These words were spoken to Israel after the flesh, and to them they still remain a covenant of peace, sure and steadfast for ever; yet as the relations named Creator, Redeemer, and Saviour are not peculiar to them, but are enjoyed in the same degree by every believing heart, we may safely take to ourselves a share in this animating promise. The certainty of the believer's hope does not depend on our holding God, but on God's holding us, not on our faithfulness to Him, but on His faithfulness to us.

III. A protection promised. This does not consist in any absence of trial and danger; the expressions of the text rather imply their presence, many in number and various in kind. The protection promised in the text consists in the constant presence with the soul of its unseen but Almighty Saviour. The preserving hand will never be withdrawn, and the grace of the Comforter will strengthen and cheer the soul still in its sorest times of difficulty and distress.

E. Garbett, The Soul's Life, p. 204.

References: Isaiah 43:1 . R. Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 88. Isaiah 43:1-4 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1895.

Verse 2

Isaiah 43:2

(with Daniel 3:0 )

The text contains

I. A pre-intimation of trouble. Although we have not in it a distinct assertion or prediction of particular trials, yet it is most clearly and strongly implied that the chosen people would have to go through them. God never deceives us. He never foresees one thing for us and tells us to expect another. He meets us, so to speak, in plainness and candour, and He says, My ways are ways of ultimate happiness, but not of proximate. Tribulation is the very cause of religion's peculiar blessedness, the very parent and producer of its inconceivable peace. Those who have most of the sorrow invariably taste most of the joy.

II. A promise of Divine succour and deliverance. The very same passage that intimates sorrow and leads us to expect persecution for the sake of Christ, assures us also most encouragingly of strength equal to our day, and of grace to help in every time of need. The promise assures us (1) of the Saviour's sympathy in our trials, "I will be with thee." What Jesus promises to His chosen is not the mere succour of aid it is the succour of a helpful sympathy. (2) Mark the kind of sympathy it is. It is not the sympathy of weakness that can only weep with us, but hath no power to give us assistance. But this is the remarkable and blessed thing in the sympathy of Christ it is human sympathy allied to Almighty power. This sympathising Son of God is the Creator and Controller of flood and fire. There is promised to all His tried and faithful servants both succour and salvation, defence and deliverance.

R. Glover, By the Waters of Babylon, p. 133.

References: Isaiah 43:2 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii., No. 397; R. Glover, By the Waters of Babylon, p. 133.Isaiah 43:3 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1831.Isaiah 43:4 . Ibid., vol. xvi., No. 917, vol. xxviii., No. 1671; Isaiah 43:6 . Ibid., vol. xvii., No. 1007; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 296. Isaiah 43:10 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 52; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 229, vol. xii., p. 134; Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 106; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi., No. 644; J. Hall, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 270; J. Kennedy, Ibid., vol. i., p. 424.Isaiah 43:16 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. vii., p. 354.Isaiah 43:19 . T. Stephenson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 209. Isaiah 43:21 . J. J. West, Penny Pulpit, No. 348; Homiletic Magazine, vol. ix., p. 165.

Verse 22

Isaiah 43:22

I. The nature of this evil. To be weary of God is to desire to break the connection that exists between us and God. It is to be impatient of continued connection with Him; to be tired of calling upon Him; tired of thinking of Him; tired of trusting Him; tired of waiting for Him; tired of serving Him.

II. The nature of this weariness will appear further if you look for a moment at the forms in which it is shown. (1) This weariness is first shown by formality in Divine worship, (2) in the outward neglect of Divine requirements, (3) in not looking to God for aid and succour, (4) in the setting up of false gods.

III. What is the occasion of the manifestation of this weariness? You will generally find one of the following things disappointed hope, the endurance of affliction, or the prosperity of the wicked.

IV. God's dealings, God's dispensations, may be the occasion of the springing up of this weariness, but we cannot charge it upon God. Its cause is to be found either in the absence of love or in the feebleness of love.

V. Look at the bitter fruits of this weariness. God sees it, and He cannot see it without feeling it, that would be impossible. What feeling, therefore, must spring up in the Divine nature? It cannot be joy and it cannot be complacency. What can it be but anger, what but displeasure? And displeasure does arise. God is angry and He corrects, and He corrects so as to make the chastisement answer to the sin. The man has, to a cer tain extent, withdrawn from God God withdraws from the man. He deprives the man of whatever influences are tending to promote his peace and joy and rest. And if the heart be alive, if it be a quickened heart, this state is one/of great misery until the soul is restored to God.

VI. What is the prevention, or rather, the means of prevention? Ejecting the first hard thoughts of God, not yielding for a moment to indolence in the service of God; following Christ implicitly in the conduct of the spirit towards God; cherishing most sacredly the influences of the Holy Spirit.

VII. And when you have fallen into this evil state, what is its cure? (1) The full confession of the weariness. (2) Admission of the Divine goodness in the correction by which you are made sensible of your weariness. (3) Return to the careful observances of God's ordinances and precepts, the obtaining of pardon, and the assurance of forgiveness.

S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Pulpit, 1st series, No. 19.

References: Isaiah 43:22-24 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1895.Isaiah 43:24 . Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 144.

Verses 24-25

Isaiah 43:24-25

I. Consider the ground on which Israel is reproached. Sweet cane, or calamus, is an aromatic reed which was an exotic in in Palestine, and is chiefly to be found in India. The demand for sweet cane was great, because it formed an ingredient of the incense in most countries where incense was used. It was one of the things which could not be obtained by barter. The charge is, "You do not neglect the offices of religion, but you perform them carelessly; you do not withhold your offerings, but you do not offer of your best." Bad is the best that man has to offer to God; but less than our best God will not accept.

II. When did the King eternal, immortal, invisible, serve? When was God, the Omnipotent, wearied with our iniquities? When did the Judge of the earth blot out our sins? We, enlightened by the gospel, can give an answer which Israel of old could not. We answer, "Then, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," when God in the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became incarnate. He came to serve, and when we think of Him, the God-Man, serving under the law, is it possible for us to ask, in the spirit of a slave, How little can I render unto the Lord for all His benefits? what is the least that He demands, the minimum of duty? The great principle is this, that we never offer unto the Lord what costs us nothing, or what involves no thought or trouble. He will not accept the refuse at our hands. And this principle we are to carry out in all that relates to our moral conduct and religious life. It is applicable to our private devotions as well as to our public services. It is implied in our Lord's injunction, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."

W. F. Hook, Parish Sermons, p. 186.

Verse 25

Isaiah 43:25

There is one thing that God always does with sin. He removes it out of His presence. God cannot dwell with sin. When He casts away the guilty soul into an unapproachable distance, and when He pardons a penitent soul and lays it upon His bosom, He is doing the same thing equally in both cases, He is removing sin absolutely and infinitely.

I. Consider the Author of forgiveness. The expression, "I, even I," is not a very unfrequent one in Holy Scripture; but wherever it occurs whether in reference to justice or to mercy it is the mark of the Almighty, at that moment taking to Himself, in some special degree, some sovereign prerogative. Here, the magnificent repetition of that name, first given in the bush, was evidently intended to show one characteristic feature of God's love. He forgives like a sovereign. All His attributes are brought to bear upon our peace. The pardoned sinner stands upon the Eternal, leans upon the Infinite, and looks out upon the unfading.

II. The nature of forgiveness. (1) As to time. Observe, the verb runs in the present tense "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions." (2) As to degree. "Blot out." You could not read Satan could not read a trace where God's obliterating hand has once passed. (3) As to continuance. In the text the present swells out into the future. He "blotteth out and will not remember."

III. The reason of forgiveness. Look back and find it in that eternal counsel, wherein, before all worlds, God gave to His dear Son a kingdom and a people. Look forward and find it in God's will, that there shall be a multitude of washed saints around the throne of His glory, who shall be sending up praises to Him for ever and ever. Seek it in that unfathomable love in which He is the Father the loving Father of every creature He has made.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 1874, p. 279.

References: Isaiah 43:25 . G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 94; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i., No. 24, vol. xix., No. 1142, vol. xxviii., No. 1685.Isaiah 43:25-28 . C. Short, Expositor, 1st series, vol. ix., p. 150.

Verse 26

Isaiah 43:26

I. We cannot but remark at once on the apparent strangeness that there should be any appeal to reason or argument where the matter involved is undoubtedly the great doctrine of atonement or propitiation. A forgiveness based on a propitiation, and followed by sanctification, is what God propounds as His scheme of redemption, and such a scheme He invites us to discuss with Him in person. Let reason put forth all her shrewdness; there is no fear but that an answer will be furnished by your antagonist in this high debate. But if all the difficulties which reason can find in the way of redemption lie either in the necessities of man or the attributes of God, and if the scheme of redemption through Christ meet the first and yield the second, so that even reason herself can perceive that it satisfies every human want and compromises no Divine perfection, why should we not allow that, reason herself being judge, the gospel is in every respect precisely such a communication as is suited to the case?

II. The concluding words of the text, "Declare thou, that thou mayest be justified," seem to allow you, if you choose, to bring forward any excuse which you may have for not closing with that gracious proffer of salvation through Christ. Whilst we promise you upon the authority of revelation that God will blot out your transgressions and not remember your sins, we call on you to break away from evil habits, forsake evil ways, and attend to righteous duties. And here you think you have ground of objection. Well, urge it. It is God Himself who saith, "Declare thou, that thou mayest be justified." But the answer is, that the persons to whom God will communicate additional grace are those who in obedience to His call are straining every nerve to forsake evil ways. It is not that they are able of themselves to work out a moral amendment, but it is that He intends to bestow on them the ability while they are making the effort. We may, however, take another and perhaps equally just view of the controversy, which is indicated, though not laid open, by our text. Come, all of you who think you are in any way hardly dealt with by God. Approach and plead your cause. Keep nothing back; be as minute as you will in exposing the harshness of God's dealings, whether individually with yourselves or generally with mankind; and then, having pleaded your own cause, listen to the beautiful promise, "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2299.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Isaiah 43". "Sermon Bible Commentary".