God Says I Will Comfort You In The Dry Places

Bible Book: Isaiah  43 : 14-21
Subject: Comfort, God's; Provision, God's; Water of Life
Series: God Says I Will

In a recent newsletter from the ministry of “Insight For Living,” Chuck Swindoll began by citing these tired promises…

“I’m going to hit the gym at 5:30 every morning, and I’ll start tomorrow.” “I’m going to clean out and organize the garage and keep it spotless from now on.” “I’m going to give up French fries . . . for good this time!”

Dr. Swindoll continues with these words…

I love the old saying, “A New Year’s resolution goes in one year and out the other.” How true! We always begin a new year with the best intentions, making resolutions to change this or stop that. But no matter how hard we try, even the best choices fall by the wayside, ready to be picked up again the following January.

In contrast, we have been discovering in the 43rd chapter of Isaiah that God has made some resolutions of His own. And when God says, “I will,” you can mark it down, He will!

In Isaiah 43:1-4, we noticed that … God Says “I Will Continue With You In The Difficult Places”

This past week, in Isaiah 43:5-13, we saw that … God Says “I Will Call You Out Of The Distant Places”

Today, I’m interested in Isaiah 43:14-21; a passage in which God Says “I Will Comfort You In The Dry Places”

Isaiah foretold that Israel would go through some dry places. They would be taken into captivity. They would suffer. They would face hard days and sleepless nights. But this was not the end for the nation of Israel. There was a brighter day coming.

And the same is true for the church of the Living God today. The church may face hard days and sleepless nights. The church may go through dry places. But it is not the end. It is not the last chapter. There is a brighter day coming.

God told His people in Isaiah 43:19…

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

And it’s interesting that God keeps reminding them of Who He is in this chapter. He keeps referring to Himself by some of His various names. Why does He use this kind of repetition? I believe it is because His people were and still are a forgetful people.

That’s why Dottie Rambo wrote these words…

Roll back the curtain of memories now and then

Show me where you brought me from and where I could have been

Remember I’m human, and humans forget; So remind me, remind me dear Lord

Years ago, in the mid to late 1700’s, God used a preacher in England named Robert Robinson to write a number of hymns on the subject of theology. One of his best known hymns is “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing.” The song says…

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;

Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise.

But there is another line in the song that says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love.”

Robert Robinson’s later life was evidently not an easy one, judging from a well known story about this hymn. One day, he encountered a woman who was studying a hymnal, and she asked how he liked the hymn she was humming. In tears, he replied, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.” He had been prone to wander.

And I think that’s why Isaiah 43 resonates with my heart; because I am also prone to wander. I do become forgetful in my relationship to God. But He reminds us! He calls us back to Himself. Even though we go through distant places, and difficult places, and dry places, He has not given up on His people. He continues with us. He calls us. He comforts us.

In our passage today, we find that…

I. There Is Comfort In The Identity Of God In These Verses

(Isaiah 43:14-15)

A. He Identifies Himself As The Kinsman Of His People

(Isaiah 43:14) Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.

God attests to the fact that He is communicating this truth, for “thus saith the LORD.”

saith – Hebrew 559. 'amar, aw-mar'; a prim. root; to say (used with great latitude):--answer, appoint, avouch, bid, boast self, call, certify, challenge, charge, + (at the, give) command (ment), commune, consider, declare, demand, X desire, determine, X expressly, X indeed, X intend, name, X plainly, promise, publish, report, require, say, speak (against, of), X still, X suppose, talk, tell, term, X that is, X think, use [speech], utter, X verily, X yet.

He is giving the answer; He is declaring and determining and promising. Who is? The LORD is.

LORD – Hebrew 3068. Yehovah, yeh-ho-vaw'; from H1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jeho-vah, Jewish national name of God:--Jehovah, the Lord.

He identifies Himself, not only as Jehovah, but as “redeemer.” We have already seen Him in this context in verse 1 when He said, “I have redeemed thee.” This term “redeemer” is a wonderful term, and it makes it even more wonderful that God says to His people, ‘I am “your redeemer”.’

redeemer – Hebrew 1350. ga'al, gaw-al'; a prim. root, to redeem (according to the Oriental law of kinship), i.e. to be the next of kin (and as such to buy back a relative's property, marry his widow, etc.):-- X in any wise, X at all, avenger, deliver, (do, perform the part of near, next) kinsfolk (-man), purchase, ransom, redeem (-er), revenger.

We discovered some of the rich meaning of this term “redeemer” in the book of Ruth, and when we think about God’s statement here in Isaiah 43:14 and the narrative in the book of Ruth, we realize that…

1. The Kinsman Redeemer Represents Hope

In Ruth 3:13, Boaz told Ruth that if the nearer kinsman “will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part.” And according to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, the kinsman’s part was to “raise up children by the widow.”

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says that…

The kinsman-redeemer (OT:1350 – Go’alkem) was responsible for preserving the integrity, life, property, and family name of his close relative or for executing justice upon his murderer.

Because of Boaz, Naomi and Ruth’s story was transformed from an account of “Mara” (Ruth 1:20 – bitterness) to motherhood (Ruth 4:13-16); from an account of woefulness to worship (for the name Obed in Ruth 4:17 means servant or worshipper).

2. The Kinsman Redeemer Represents Holiness

Like Boaz, our Kinsman-redeemer has done the right thing for He is “the Holy One of Israel.”

Again, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says of the word “Holy” (OT:6918 – qadosh) that…

This adjective (in) its most frequent use … represents God’s majestic, moral, and dynamistic holiness (in other words, holiness as power). … The Semitic languages have two separate original forms of the root (word). The one signifies “pure” and “devoted” … the other signifies “holiness” as a situation or as an abstract, as in the Arabic word ‎al-qaddus, meaning “the most holy or most pure.” In Hebrew both elements are combined.

So when God says He is the “Holy One,” it means that He is the pure One, the devoted One, the most holy one. The traditional understanding of “separated” is not the primary meaning, but the idea is involved in the word. So as the Holy One, He is separated from all others. He is unique and set apart.

B. He Identifies Himself As The Keeper Of His People

(Isaiah 43:14) Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.

1. To Keep His People, God Would Bring Down Babylon’s Finest

nobles – Hebrew 1281. bariyach, baw-ree'-akh; or bariach, baw-ree'-akh; from H1272; a fugitive, i.e. the serpent (as fleeing), and the constellation by that name (as mentioned in Job 26:13):--crooked, noble, piercing.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says that “all their nobles” means…

fugitives (baariychiym, from baarach, to break away or flee). … The Vulgate translates (it as) ‘bars,’ (and) the English version takes bars figuratively for the nobles, who are as it were the bars that strengthen the gates of the people regarded as a city.

Albert Barnes notes that…

Jerome … understands (the phrase “brought down all their nobles”) … of removing the strong bars with which the prisoners of the exile Jews were protected, so that they would be permitted to go forth in peace and safety. Lowth renders it, ‘I will bring down all her strong bars.’

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary explains…

For your sakes, says Jehovah, i.e., for the purpose of releasing you, I have sent to Babylon (the agents of my judgments), and will throw them all down as fugitives (“nobles” – bâriichiim) into a hurried flight.

God turned Babylon’s finest into Babylon’s fugitives.

2. To Keep His People, God Would Bring Down Babylon’s Fleet

(Isaiah 43:14) Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary says…

The Chaldeans … shall be driven into the ships of their rejoicing, i.e., the ships which were previously the object of their jubilant pride and their jubilant rejoicing.

Barnes says that “the Chaldeans” are ‘The inhabitants of Babylon;’ and of the phrase ‘whose cry is in their ships,’ he said…

Lowth renders this, ‘Exulting in their ships.’ … The Syriac, ‘Who glory in their ships.’ The sense is, probably, that the Chaldeans, when their city was taken, would seek to take refuge in their ships in which they would raise a shout (Rosenmuller). Or it may be, as Lowth supposes, that it was one of the characteristics of the Chaldeans that they boasted of their ships, and of their commerce. Babylon was, as he remarks, favorably situated to be a commercial and naval power. It was on the large river Euphrates, and hence, had access to the Persian Gulf and the ocean; and there can be no doubt that it was engaged, in the height of its power, in commercial enterprises. On the north of the city, the Euphrates was united to the Tigris by the canal called Nahar Malca or the Royal River, and thus a large part of the produce of the northern countries, as far as the Euxine and Caspian seas, naturally descended to Babylon.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says…

Their joy heretofore in their ships contrasts sadly with their present panic in fleeing to them. Babylon was … famed for ships and commerce, until the Persian monarchs, to prevent revolt or invasion, obstructed navigation by dams across the Tigris and Euphrates.

Illustration: When I was a little boy, my dad went one day over to a man’s house that he worked with to borrow something from him, and I went with him. And while they were taking care of their business, I started playing with the man’s son. They had a huge slide out in the yard, and we were going down that slide. Well, I got up to the top and the other little boy was right behind me, but he decided that he didn’t want me up there, so he knocked me off the side. It was probably only about eight or ten feet up, but it felt like twenty because when I hit the ground, it knocked the wind out of me. It’s the only time that I ever remember having that experience, and it was not one that I wished to repeat. In Daniel 5, nearly one hundred seventy five years after Isaiah’s prophecy, God knocked the wind out of the sails of the Babylonian empire.

C. He Identifies Himself As The King Of His People

(Isaiah 43:15) I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.

1. Consider The Several Titles Of God Here

LORD – Hebrew 3068. Yehovah, yeh-ho-vaw'; from H1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jeho-vah, Jewish national name of God:--Jehovah, the Lord.

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says of the phrase ‘Holy One’ (OT:4720 – Q’dowsh’kem)…

The adjective (q¹dôš) (holy) denominates that which is intrinsically sacred or which has been admitted to the sphere of the sacred by divine rite or cultic act. It connotes that which is distinct from the common or profane. God is intrinsically holy and He calls His people to be holy, providing for them the standard of obedience whereby that holiness may be maintained. Because God is holy, He is free from the moral imperfections and frailties common to man and can be counted on to be faithful to his promises

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament explains ‘the creator’ by saying…

The word is used … only of God’s activity and is thus a purely theological term. … The root ‎bara ‎denotes the concept of “initiating something new” in a number of passages. … It is used of the creation of new things in Isaiah 48:6-7 and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth (Isaiah 65:17). Marvels never seen before are described by this word. … The word also possesses the meaning of “bringing into existence” in several passages. … It is not surprising that this word with its distinctive emphases is used most frequently to describe the creation of the universe and the natural phenomena. The usages of the term in this sense present a clearly defined theology. The magnitude of God’s power is exemplified in creation.

2. Consider The Sovereign Title Of God Here

God said, ‘I am the Master. I am the Moral. I am the Maker.’ And then He says, ‘I am the Monarch!’

King – Hebrew 4428. melek, meh'-lek; from H4427; a king:--king, royal (one who reigns).

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says…

The essential theology of the OT with reference to ‎melek ‎(king) is not to be obtained merely by examining the over 2500 occurrences of the word. Rather we must examine the OT idea of magistracy, i.e., of civil authority. Underlying all civil society was … common or customary law. No state then (including the Mosaic) or now could operate by statutory laws alone. Furthermore, civil government was the rule of magistrates. They were rulers n a greater sense than are rulers in the West today. For though responsible to statutory law and to custom, part of the custom was to rely simply on decisions of the magistrate … to supply whatever leadership, control, and support people expected from their government. Government, therefore, in a degree much greater than in any Western land, was rule by (hopefully) just men rather than by laws that were just.

When God said, “I am … your King,” He indicates that He is the One who calls all the shots. His word is law.

Nelson’s Complete Book Of Bible Maps And Charts says that…

Isaiah’s long ministry ranged from about 740 to 680 b.c. (1:1), and the book of Isaiah no doubt contains prophetic writings written throughout this period. He began his ministry near the end of Uzziah’s reign (790–739 b.c.) and continued through the reigns of Jotham (739–731 b.c.), Ahaz (731–715 b.c.), and Hezekiah (715–686 b.c.). Isaiah outlived Hezekiah by a few years because 37:38 records the death of Sennacherib in 681 b.c. Hezekiah was succeeded in 686 b.c. by his wicked son Manasseh, who overthrew the worship of Yahweh and no doubt opposed the work of Isaiah.

Isaiah had seen the kings of Judah come and go, but God said, “I am your King.”

Illustration: The late African-American preacher, Dr. S. M. Lockridge is well remembered for preaching about the King. He said…

The Bible says He’s the King of the Jews. He’s the King of Israel. He’s the King of righteousness. He’s the King of the ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that’s my King.

David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. No means of measure can define His limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing. Well, well, He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King.

He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s saviour. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s august. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. Well, He’s the loftiest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism. He’s the fundamental doctrine of proved theology. He’s the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That’s my King.

He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He’s guards and He guides. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharges debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent, and He beautifies the meek. Do you know Him?

Well, my King is the key of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislators. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King.

Yeah. Yeah. That’s my King. My King, yeah. His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Well. I wish I could describe Him to you, but He’s indescribable. He’s indescribable. Yes. He’s incomprehensible. He’s invincible. He’s irresistible. I’m coming to tell you, the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explaining Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him. Well, Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King.

Yeah. He always has been and He always will be. I’m talking about He had no predecessor, and He’ll have no successor. There was nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. You can’t impeach Him and He’s not gonna’ to resign. That’s my King! Praise the Lord! That’s my King!

Thine, Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. The glory is all His. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever. And when you get through with all of the forevers, then, Amen.

Illustration: (To introduce next thought)… “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten” is a book of short essays by Robert Fulghum, first published in 1986. The title of the book is taken from the first essay in the volume, in which Fulghum says…

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don't hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don't take things that aren't yours.

Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

These are basic lessons that help us in life. And similarly, as we come to the third occurrence of the phrase, “Thus saith the LORD” in this chapter (the others being in verses 1 and 14), we discover some basic instructions from the Lord that helps us in our spiritual life. And just as “There Is Comfort In The Identity Of God In These Verses”…

II. There Is Comfort In The Instructions Of God In These Verses

(Isaiah 43:16-18)

A. Notice The Assurance Of His Instructions

(Isaiah 43:16) Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;

Over 400 times in the Old Testament, we find the statement “Thus saith the Lord,” and over 200 of those times it is the name Jehovah that is used in the statement. And we see that…

1. There Is Assurance In The Title Of His Divinity

(Isaiah 43:16) Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;

LORD – Hebrew 3068. Yehovah; from H1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jeho-vah, Jewish national name of God:--Jehovah, the Lord

L. H. Grant wrote…

The name “Jehovah” is significant of the kindness of God in drawing near to mankind in blessing. Thus it is used consistently in regard to God’s covenant relationship with Israel (Exodus 6:2-8). (Genesis Commentary)

The McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia says…

The later Hebrews … always regarded this name (Jehovah) as too sacred even to be pronounced.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says of this name…

The meaning may with some confidence be inferred … to be that of the simple future, yahweh, “he will be.” It does not express causation, nor existence in a metaphysical sense, but the covenant promise of the Divine presence, both at the immediate time and in the Messianic age of the future. … It is the personal name of God, as distinguished from such generic or essential names as ‎El‎, Elohim‎, ‎Shadday‎, etc. Characteristic of the Old Testament is its insistence on the possible knowledge of God as a person; and Yahweh is His name as a person.

This Divine Title and personal name tells us that God, and God alone, will always be there even when others are not.

2. There Is Assurance In The Testimony Of His Deeds

(Isaiah 43:16) Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says of the word “maketh” (natan – Hebrew OT:5414) that it means…

“To deliver, give, place, set up, lay, make, do.” … Natan represents the action by which something is set going or actuated. … This verb may mean “to place an object before” or to “set it down before”

Vine’s also says that the “way” (Derek – OT:1870) means…

“way (path, road, highway); distance; journey; manner, conduct; condition; destiny.” … It occurs about 706 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods. First, this word refers to a path, a road, or a highway. … (In Num 20:17 the word means “highway,” a well-known and well-traveled road: “…we will go by the king’s highway, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.” Second, this noun represents a “distance” (how far or how long) between two points. … In other passages derek refers to the action or process of “taking a journey.” In another emphasis this word connotes how and what one does, a “manner, custom, behavior, mode of life.” … Finally, this word sometimes seems to bear the meaning of its Ugaritic cognate, “power” or “rulership”:

path – Hebrew 5410. nathiyb, naw-theeb'; or (fem.) nethiybah, neth-ee-baw'; or nethibah (Jer. 6 : 16), neth-ee-baw'; from an unused root meaning to tramp; a (beaten) track:--path ([-way]), X travel [-er], way.

God making a path has the idea of Him tramping down the sand ahead of them so that it would be a smooth, stable stretch for the Israelites to walk on.

He said He made a path in the “mighty waters.”

mighty – Hebrew 5794. 'az, az; from H5810; strong, vehement, harsh:--fierce, + greedy, mighty, power, roughly, strong.

This suggests that the waters were choppy and turbulent that night when they crossed.

One online resource based on Easton’s Bible Dictionary stated…

Some consider the story of the parting of the Red Sea to be based on a mistranslation. The actual trip, it is argued, was through an area known as the sea of reeds which was a desert marshy swamp. One can compare the normal Hebrew word for red and the word for reed – (as Moses was sent into the Nile in a reed basket). However, this hypothesis neglects the context of the story. Whatever “sea” the story refers to was clearly considered by the author of the Torah to be substantial enough to deluge Pharaoh’s army. It is hard to imagine the author relating a story of how the entire Egyptian army was drowned in six inches of water.

Albert Barnes said it is the “characteristic” of God “to open a path of safety for His people even when deep and rapid floods are before them. The standing roof of this, which undoubtedly the prophet had in his eye, was the deliverance from Egypt. Still, I think, he did not mean to refer to that alone, but to that as an illustration of what God was, and had ever been to his people.”

B. Notice The Association Of His Instructions

(Isaiah 43:17) Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow.

God is giving us a history lesson here. He associates what He is going to do with what He has already done.

1. God Referred To The Egyptian Army

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says that “the chariot and horse, the army and the power” refers to “the might of the enemies’ host; every mighty warrior.”

Barnes said…

The reference here is, undoubtedly, to the occurrences which are recorded in Exodus 14:4, following, when Pharaoh and his host are said to have followed the Israelites, but were all submerged in the sea.

power – Hebrew 5808. 'izzuwz, iz-zooz'; from H5810 (the hardened, the stout, the strong); forcible; collect. and concr. an army:--power, strong.

See Exodus 14 (especially vs. 19-31)

2. God Referred To The Extinguished Army

Consider some of the words that God uses to describe His defeat of this army…

lie – Hebrew 7901. shakab, shaw-kab'; a prim. root; to lie down (for rest, sexual connection, decease or any other purpose):-- X at all, cast down, ([over-]) lay (self) (down), (make to) lie (down, down to sleep, still, with), lodge, ravish, take rest, sleep, stay. (In the context, it has the idea that the Egyptians would be laid out in the sea as if it were their coffin.)

And He said, “they shall not rise.” There would be no rekindling of the flame. There would be no resurrection of their captor. What a wonderful picture of the fact that God completely delivers us from the past life of bondage!

extinct – Hebrew 1846. da'ak, daw-ak'; a prim. root; to be extinguished: fig. to expire or be dried up:--be extinct, consumed, put out, quenched.

A word that is similar to “extinct” is the word “quenched.” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says of this word “quenched” (OT:3518 – kaabuw) that…

It always relates to fire and to the act of putting a fire out. It is to be distinguished from da’ak, which has a similar meaning, by the fact that da’ak commonly refers to a lamp which has gone out while kabah in more than half of its occurrences refers to a fire which cannot be quenched by anyone other than God (the fire referring to His wrath).

tow – Hebrew 6594. pishtah, pish-taw'; fem. of H6593 (linen thread, flax); flax; by implication a wick:--flax, tow.

Albert Barnes said…

[They are extinct] They are destroyed, as the wick of a lamp is quenched suddenly when immersed in water. This is a striking figure, to denote the suddenness with which it was done, and the completeness of their destruction. As a flame is entirely put out when plunged beneath the water, so the whole host of the Egyptians were suddenly and completely destroyed in the Red Sea. The sentiment in this verse is, that God has power over the nations to control them; that it is one of his characteristics to lead on the enemies of his people to destruction; and that they are suddenly destroyed, and their hopes, and joys, and triumphs put out forever. If it was so in regard to the Egyptians, it will be also in regard to all his foes. And if this took place in regard to a nation, it shall also in regard to individual sinners who oppose themselves to God.

John Calvin wrote…

He shows that no power or forces shall hinder him from delivering his people, whenever he shall think proper. The sea which lay between them could not prevent God from “bringing out” his people; but he divided its waters in the midst, and drowned the pursuing enemies, with their horses and chariots (Exodus 14:28). This is therefore an amplification; as if He had said, “Though the whole world be leagued for your destruction, and attempt, to hinder the deliverance of my Church, yet it will gain nothing; for not only will the Lord find out a way through whirlpools, when He thinks proper, but He will overthrow and scatter all opposing efforts, and will crush them so that they shall never again raise their head.”

Of the phrase “They are quenched like flax (as tow),” Calvin said…

It is possible that he who was vanquished in one battle may renew his strength in another, and at length be victorious; but here the Lord promises a continual victory, for He declares that the enemies shall be subdued in such a manner that they shall be completely extinguished. By the metaphor of flax, He expresses more vividly the sudden destruction of the enemies; for flax may indeed burn and give light, but is immediately consumed.

C. Notice The Aspects Of His Instructions

(Isaiah 43:18) Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.

Matthew Henry said…

For the encouragement of our faith and hope, it is good for us often to remember what God has done formerly for his people against His and their enemies.

And even in this passage, God is reminding us of past events. So why does He now tell us not to remember the former things? I believe that God is teaching us that we can remember the past, but not to the exclusion of seeing what He can do in the present and the future. As the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament says…

The admonition in verse 18 does not commend utter forgetfulness and disregard, but that henceforth they are to look forwards rather than backward. The new thing which Jehovah is in the process of working out eclipses the old, and deserves a more undivided and prolonged attention.

1. He Tells Us Not To Go Back And Try To Look At The Problems

remember – Hebrew 2142. zakar, zaw-kar'; a primary root word; prop. to mark (so as to be recognized), i.e. to remember; by implication it means to mention, be mindful, recount, record.

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says this word means…

think (about), meditate (upon), pay attention (to); remember, recollect; mention, declare, recite, proclaim, invoke, commemorate, accuse, confess

God is saying that we should pay no attention to the former things.

Sometimes we are tempted to get bogged down in thinking about the old taskmasters in Egypt, but God can take us to the Red Sea and remind us that those old taskmasters were covered by the water just as our sins are covered by the blood!

This is as much a problem in anticipating future problems as it is in obsessing over past problems. So Jesus said…

(Matthew 6:34) Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

2. He Tells Us Not To Go Back And Try To Live In The Past

Matthew Henry went on to explain that…

Remember not the former things, (means) from them to take occasion, as some do, to undervalue the present things, as if the former days were better than these.

consider - [Greek biyn] to separate mentally (or distinguish), understand, discern.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says of this phrase “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old”…

So wonderful shall be God’s future interpositions in your behalf that all past ones shall be forgotten in comparison. Plainly the future restoration of Israel is the event ultimately meant. Thus the “former things” are such events as the destruction of Sennacherib and the return from Babylon. “The things of old” are events still more ancient, the deliverance from Egypt, and at the Red Sea, and entry into Canaan (Vitringa).

The instruction here is similar to the words of Paul in the New Testament…

(Philippians 3:13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

Illustration: A few years ago, my friend Tom Hayes told me about a preacher in Rose Bud, Arkansas named John Bishop who came down with aseptic meningitis in October of 1995. Because of some unusual circumstances he lost his memory as a result of the illness, and he had to learn how to read and write along with everything else all over again. His motor skills were also affected which resulted in his having to learn to walk and talk as well. His wife Donna helped him through his recovery.

He even forgot that he had a ministry. But because of a renewed realization of God’s blessings in his recovery, he now calls his evangelistic ministry “God Is So Good Ministries.”

For most of us, forgetting the former things is not so immediate. But when we do put the past behind us, we too will realize that God Is So Good.

III. There Is Comfort In The Intentions Of God In These Verses

(Isaiah 43:19-21)

A. He Intends For There To Be A Way

(Isaiah 43:19) Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

The word “way” in this verse is the same as the one used in verse 16. Instead of the way in the sea, God said He would “make a way in the wilderness.”

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says of the word “wilderness” (OT:4057 – midbar) that…

Some lexicographers distinguish two roots for the Hebrew (word). (First it indicates) “to be behind, to turn back” related to Arabic dub[u]r with the same meaning and Akkadian dabaru “to push back.” Derivatives of this root include dabîr, meaning “back chamber,” doeber, meaning “(remote place) pasture,” doeberôt, meaning “raft [dragged behind the ship].” (Secondly, it indicates) “word.” And it is related to speech.

The indication is that God would make a way in the backside of the desert, in the back chambers of this world, in the unexpected places. And then it indicates that God would make a way in the word!

1. God Said It Would Be A Revealed Way

Behold – Hebrew 2005. hen, hane; a prim. particle; lo!; also (as expressing surprise) if:--behold, if, lo, though.

Concerning the phrase “shall ye not know it,” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words says that the word “know” comes from a Hebrew word…

yada (OT:3045), means “to know.” This verb occurs about 1,040 times (995 in Hebrew and 47 in Aramaic) in the Bible. Essentially yada means: (1) to know by observing and reflecting (thinking), and (2) to know by experiencing. The first sense appears in Genesis 8:11, where Noah “knew” the waters had abated as a result of seeing the freshly picked olive leaf in the dove’s mouth; he “knew” it after observing and thinking about what he had seen. He did not actually see or experience the abatement himself. In contrast to this knowing through reflection is the knowing which comes through experience with the senses, by investigation and proving, by reflection and consideration (firsthand knowing).

God said of this new thing that He was going to do, that He wanted His people to reflect on it and experience it firsthand.

2. God Said It Would Be A Revolutionary Way

new – Hebrew 2319. chadash, khaw-dawsh'; from H2318; new:--fresh, new thing.

Adam Clarke said…

[Behold, I will do a new thing] At Isaiah 43:16, the prophet had referred to the deliverance from Egypt and the passage through the Red Sea; here he promises that the same power shall be employed in their redemption and return from the Babylonian captivity. This was to be a new prodigy.

Albert Barnes explained some of the phrases in this verse thusly…

[I will do a new thing] Something that has not hitherto occurred, some unheard of and wonderful event, that shall far surpass all that he had formerly done (see the note at Isaiah 42:9).

[Now it shall spring forth] (See the note at Isaiah 42:9 – Below). It shall spring up as the grass does from the earth; or it shall bud forth like the opening leaves and flowers – a beautiful figure, denoting the manner in which the events of Divine Providence come to pass.

[Before they spring forth] There is here a beautiful image. The metaphor is taken from plants and flowers, the word ‎tsaamach properly referring to the springing up of plants, or to their sending out shoots, buds, or flowers. The phrase literally means, ‘before they begin to germinate,’ that is, before there are any indications of life, or growth in the plant. The sense is, that God predicted the future events before there was anything by which it might be inferred that such occurrences would take place.

[I will even make a way in the wilderness] In this part of the verse, the prophet describes the anxious care which God would show in protecting his people, and providing for them in conducting them to their native land.

John Calvin offered some wonderful insight on these statements by saying…

When He promises a way in the wilderness, He alludes to that wilderness which lay between Judea and Babylon; for He speaks of the return of the people. Accordingly to the way He adds rivers; for in travelling through a dry country they might have been parched and died of thirst. On this account, the Lord says that He will supply them with water and everything that is necessary for the journey; as if He had said, “I will furnish you with provisions, so that under my guidance you shall return to your native land.”

B. He Intends For There To Be Waters

(Isaiah 43:19-20) Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. {20} The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

Barnes noted that…

Water is often used in the Scriptures as an emblem of the provisions of divine mercy. Bursting fountains in a desert, and flowing streams unexpectedly met with in a dry and thirsty land, are often also employed to denote the comfort and refreshment which the gospel furnishes to sinful and suffering man in his journey through this world.

1. As A Result Of The Waters, He Will Get Honor From His Creatures

dragons – Hebrew 8577. tanniyn, tan-neen'; or tanniym (Ezekiel 29:3), tan-neem'; intens. from the same as H8565; a marine or land monster, i.e. sea-serpent or jackal:--dragon, sea-monster, serpent, whale.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says that the “dragons” refers to “serpents; or else jackals.”

Barnes said…

The owl is a well-known bird that dwells only in obscure and dark retreats, giving a doleful screech, and seeking its food only at night. It is not certain, however, that the owl is intended here. The Septuagint renders it, [Seireenes] - ‘Sirens.’ The Chaldee, ‘The daughter of the ostrich.’ Bochart has gone into an extended argument to prove that the ostrich is intended here. The Hebrew does not particularly denote the kind of bird intended, but means those that are distinguished for their sound - ‘the daughters of sound or clamor.’

God is referring to these crude creatures, and He said that they would honour Him.

honour – Hebrew 3513. kabad, kaw-bad'; or kabed, kaw-bade'; a prim. root; to be heavy, i.e. in a bad sense (burdensome, severe, dull) or in a good sense (numerous, rich, honorable); causat. to make weighty (in the same two senses):--abounding with, more grievously afflict, boast, be chargeable, X be dim, glorify, be (make) glorious (things), glory, (very) great, be grievous, harden, be (make) heavy, be heavier, lay heavily, (bring to, come to, do, get, be had in) honour (self), (be) honourable (man), lade, X more be laid, make self many, nobles, prevail, promote (to honour), be rich, be (go) sore, stop.

Because of the waters, even these unpleasant creatures would recognize the greatness of God.

2. As A Result Of The Waters, He Will Give Help To His Chosen

(Isaiah 43:20) The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

drink – Hebrew 8248. shaqah, shaw-kaw'; a prim. root; to quaff, i.e. (caus.) to irrigate or furnish a potion to:--cause to (give, give to, let, make to) drink, drown, moisten, water.

F. C. Jennings said…

Literal was the rock struck in the desert, literal was the man and literal was the rod that struck it, and literal was the water that flowed; but all these literal earthly things were to provide types of the most profound heavenly truths. The bodily revival that the Israelites received by drinking that water was a type of the reviving of our spirits by the “word of Christ,” itself vivified by the Spirit of God. What a key to many a difficulty.

The statement here certainly brings to mind God’s supply of water from the rock following the Exodus from Egypt. (See Exodus 17:1-6)

Cf. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4) Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; {2} And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; {3} And did all eat the same spiritual meat; {4} And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary insightfully notes…

In this new “Exodus,” the return from the Exile, the Jews would be going through desolate desert land where God would provide water and streams in abundance (cf. 35:6-7; 41:18; 44:3-4).

C. He Intends For There To Be Worship

(Isaiah 43:21) This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.

1. God Has Developed People For His Worship

God takes us back to the concept of formation in verse 1. He said, “This people have I formed for myself.”

formed – Hebrew 3335. yatsar, yaw-tsar'; prob. identical with H3334 (through the squeezing into shape); ([comp. H3331]), to mould into a form; especially as a potter forms a vessel from the clay; fig. to determine (i.e. form a resolution):-- X earthen, fashion, form, frame, make (-r), potter, purpose.

2. God Has Demanded Praise For His Worship

show – Hebrew 5608. caphar, saw-far'; a prim. root; prop. to score with a mark as a tally or record, i.e. (by impl.) to inscribe, and also to enumerate; intens. to recount, i.e. celebrate:--commune, (ac-) count, declare, number, + penknife, reckon, scribe, shew forth, speak, talk, tell (out), writer.

praise – Hebrew 8416. tehillah, teh-hil-law'; from H1984 (to be clear – originally used of sound, but usually of color; to shine; hence to make a show, to boast); laudation; spec. (concr.) a hymn:--praise.


In the devotional book, “God Will Make A Way,” Don Moen shared the story behind his song of the same name…

Late one evening, Don Moen received a phone call with devastating news: his wife’s sister had lost her oldest son in an automobile accident. Craig and Susan Phelps and their four sons were traveling through Texas on their way to Colorado when their van was struck broadside by an eighteen-wheeler truck. All four boys were thrown from the van.

Craig and Susan located their sons by their cries, one boy was lying in the ditch, another in an area wet from melted snow. Nearby was his brother who landed by a telephone pole. All were seriously injured, but when Craig, a medical doctor, reached Jeremy, he found him lying by a fence post with his neck broken. There was nothing Craig could do to revive him.

When Don received the news of this tragedy a few hours later, he recalls, My whole world came to a standstill, but I had to get on a plane the next morning and fly to a recording session that had been scheduled for several weeks. Although I knew Craig and Susan were hurting, I couldn’t be with them until the day before the funeral.

During the flight the morning after the accident, God gave me a song for them: God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. He will make a way for me. The song was based upon Isaiah 43:19 NASB Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.

This song would bring comfort to Craig and Susan when all hope seemed lost. It touched the hurt in their hearts with hope and encouragement. Don received a letter from Susan in which she quoted Isaiah 43:4 NASB: Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.

Susan wrote, We’ve seen the truth of the scripture. When Jeremy’s friends learned that he had accepted Jesus into his life before he died, many of them began to ask their own parents how they could be assured of going to heaven when they died. The accident also prompted Craig and Susan into a deeper walk with the Lord as well as into new avenues of ministry. Craig began teaching Sunday school at their church and Susan became active in Women’s Aglow, sharing with various groups her story and the Lord’s provision in her time of sorrow.

She has since said, “The day of the accident, when I got out of the van, even before I knew our son was dead, I knew I had a choice. I could be bitter and angry or I could totally accept God and whatever He had for us. I had to make the decision fast. I’ve seen fruit come as a result of that choice. If I had to, I’d do it again. It’s worth knowing others will go to heaven because of what happened to Jeremy. God really did make a way for us!”

The song that Don Moen wrote based on Isaiah 43:19 says…

God will make a way

Where there seems to be no way

He works in ways we cannot see

He will make a way for me

He will be my guide

Hold me closely to His side

With love and strength

For each new day

He will make a way

He will make a way

By a roadway in the wilderness

He’ll lead me

And rivers in the desert will I see

Heaven and earth will fade

But His Word will still remain

He will do something new today

God can and will make a way. He said, “I will”!