The Old Testament lesson for this Sunday, January 13, 2019, is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 43:1-7 and is the text chosen from the Old Testament for the Baptism of our Lord. The location of this text, its context, is quite interesting. Preceding this text is the very strong language of Isaiah 42 which is a judgement speech of Yahweh which proclaims a brutal rebuke of Israel which includes the destruction of the country of Judah, the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. But now, beginning in 43:1, we have what Reed Lessing calls “the oracles of assurance”. The change in tone is remarkable and abrupt. It is easy to hear the change from Law to Gospel! What is also apparent in the text is that change is effected, not by works of man, it is a change brought about by the LORD. Only the LORD can do this remarkable thing. The “But now…” which begins verse one shows the dramatic transition.
Another significant aspect to make note of—and perhaps preach on—is the idea of being “named” by the LORD which indicates possession. “I have called you by name, you are mine.” The idea is that the LORD declares; “You belong to me…and I belong to you.” This naming of the people as belonging to the LORD is then connected to His real presence as He leads them through the waters. Thus, we see the reason this text was chosen for the Baptism of Jesus.
Water and fire are both elements mentioned in our text. Both elements have a dual purpose in the pages of Scripture. Waters drown, but they also make alive. Fire destroys and consumes, but it also purifies. And…what is it that makes the difference? The difference is the presence of the LORD; the difference depends upon whose name you are called by. Those who believe and call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved. Those who reject the LORD and His gracious love are condemned and the LORD turns His face away from them and they do not benefit or prosper in His presence. They shall not be saved!
Thanks go out to Reed Lessing and his commentary on Isaiah 40-55 in the Concordia Commentary series from CPH—very helpful!
43:1 וְעַתָּה “but now…” This indicates a change of course, or focus, from the strong Law of chapter 42 to the grace of chapter 43.
בֹּרַאֲךָ root: ברא Qal participle: “to create; fashion”
וְיֹצֶרְךָ> root: יצר Qal participle: “to form; fashion” Both of these verbs find their beginning in Genesis 1:1 2:7. Both Judah and Israel are the subjects of God’s creation, His redeeming and His naming.
גְאַלְתִּיךָ> root: גאל Qal perfect: “to redeem” “I redeemed you”
קָרָאתִי root: קרא Qal perfect: “to call” “I called you”
43:2 אִתְּךָ-אָנִי “with you, I am”
יִשְׁטְפוּךָ root: שׁטף Qal: “to flood over; overflow; overwhelm”
בְּמוֹ. “through; in”
תִכָּוֶה root: כוה Niphal: “to be scorched; to be burned”
תִבְעַר root: בער Qal: “to burn; consume; scorch”
43:3 מוֹשִׁיעֶךָ root: ישׁע Hiphil participle: “to save”
כָפְרְךָ “price; ransom; ransom for a life”
תַּחְתֶּיךָ “in exchange; instead of; in the place of”
43:4 יָקַרְתָּ root: יקר Qal (intransitive): “to be precious; rare; scarce; to be highly valued)
נִכְבַּדְתָּ root: כבד Niphal: “to be honored”
וּלְאֻמִּים from: לאמ . “nation; people”
43:5 מִמִּזְרָח “the east”
וּמִמַּעֲרָב “sunset; the west”
אֲקַבְּצֶךָּ] root: קבץ Piel: “to gather”
43:6 וּלְתֵימָן “the south”
תִּכְלָאִי root: כלא Qal: “to restrain; shut up; withhold”
מֵרָחוֹק “afar; a distance”
מִקְצֵה “edge; end”
43:7 הַנִּקְרָא; root: נקר Niphal participle: “who is called”