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Isaiah 43:1–7 Prophecy of the Savior and Redemption
In the previous section, the sinners of Israel were punished by wicked and conquering nations; in this section, the Lord promises His covenant people redemption (43:1) and safety from destructive forces (43:2). He confirms that He is, indeed, their “Savior,” that He will pay their ransom (43:2), and that He will gather them from the four cardinal directions (43:5–6). Note how the Lord addresses Israel directly throughout this section by using the personal pronoun “you.” For example, God tenderly tells His people, “You are precious in My eyes, you are honored, and I love you” (43:4; emphasis added).
Creator . . . Fashioner. These two words recall Genesis 1:1, 27, where God created the earth, male, and female (Hebrew br’) and formed or fashioned the man (Hebrew ytzr). God, who created the earth, has also created Jacob! Fear not, for I have redeemed you. Here and throughout Isaiah (see, for example, 41:14; 43:14; 44:6, 24), the Lord affirms that He is Israel’s Redeemer. Since He has redeemed Israel, He commands them to “fear not.” I have called you by name. The Lord gave Jacob the new name “Israel,” which sets him apart as His servant. you are Mine. We belong to God and are part of His family; we are His children, “spiritually begotten” of Christ (Mosiah 5:7).
When you pass through the waters, I am with you; and through the rivers. The Lord recalls Israel’s exodus from Egypt and the miraculous passage through the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21–22) and the Jordan River (Joshua 3:13–17). The gathering of Israel in the Last Days will involve similar miracles. When you walk through fire. These words remind Israel of how God saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fire (Daniel 3:27). Similarly, He will protect latter-day Israel from such devastating trials.
For I am the Lord . . . your Savior. As our Savior, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. I give Egypt for your ransom. “Ransom” (Hebrew kofer) can also be translated “redemption payment” The Lord pays a ransom or redemption payment to free Israel (from the nations, just as He freed ancient Israel from the dominance of Egypt), but instead of money, He exchanges three countries—Egypt, Cush, and Seba—for Israel.
I will bring your offspring/I will gather. These verses describe the gathering from the four cardinal directions—“east,” “west,” “north,” “south”—meaning the totality of the earth and her inhabitants, or all parts of the earth. “East” is mentioned first, probably because of its prominence in the temple ideology of ancient Israel. God’s people gather to His gospel, ordinances, and temples. To further emphasize the universal gathering, the Lord states, “Bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the end of the earth” (emphasis added).
Isaiah 43:8–13 We Are Witnesses That the LORD Is God
During the course of the earth’s history, God has chosen many (including the house of Israel) to serve as His witnesses, to bear testimony that He, Jehovah, is our God and our Savior. Here the Lord is speaking to His people, Jacob, who is also called Israel (see 43:1). For this reason, the house of Israel stands apart from all other peoples and nations. Twice the Lord instructs us, “You are My witnesses” (43:10, 12). Isaiah’s words are literally fulfilled every testimony meeting (and in various other settings), when Latter-day Saints bear testimony of the Lord. Moreover, in this section, God Himself bears a self-testimony: “I am He,” “I, I am the Lord,” “there is no Savior besides Me,” “I am God,” and “I am He.”
blind people who have eyes. This refers to the house of Israel (see 6:9–10; 42:16), who from time to time have been spiritually blind in the past. But notwithstanding their blindness, they are required to serve as Jehovah’s witnesses.
Who among them will declare this? Who among “all nations” and “peoples” can declare that Jehovah is God? The answer is found in verse 10, where the Lord declares to the house of Israel, “You are My witnesses” and “My servant whom I have chosen.” Let all nations gather together. . . . Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right. Isaiah challenges nations and peoples to assemble and to bring forth “their witnesses” (such as their false prophets and idols) to prove that they have the truth. But they cannot. Therefore, God calls forth members of the house of Israel to serve as His witnesses. so that you may know and trust in Me and understand that I am He. God’s witnesses are to learn of Him and understand Him so that they will become better witnesses.
no god formed before Me; nor will there be after Me. These words (and several in Isaiah 41 and 44), are a polemic against idols, or false gods. The Lord is not referring to other Gods, such as the Father and the Holy Ghost.
I am the Lord, and there is no Savior besides me. Jehovah, who is Jesus Christ, is our Savior. There is no other Savior. This truth is repeated in our dispensation: “Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, and rejoice ye inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:1).
I have declared, and I have saved. Jehovah has spoken His word through the prophets and the Holy Spirit; He has conducted numerous acts of salvation; now, we who are of the house of Israel are to bear witness of these things.
before the day was, I am He. The Lord was God before the foundation of the earth. I act, and who will reverse it? Jehovah will perform His mighty works, and no one can hinder Him from conducting His work.
Isaiah 43:14–21 The LORD Provides Water for Us
Jehovah is a very personal God to His people, covenant Israel; note the personal possessive pronouns your in the following expressions (emphasis added): He is “your [Israel’s] Redeemer,” “your Holy One,” and “your King” (43:14–15). Moreover, Jehovah calls Israel “My people” and “My chosen.” (43:20) and says, “I have fashioned this people for Me” (43:21).
For your sake I send to Babylon, and I bring down all of them as fugitives. Jehovah undertakes mighty endeavors on our behalf—He prevails over our enemies, including the Babylonians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians (43:14–17); these three countries symbolize all of Israel’s enemies—ancient and modern.
the Lord, who makes a way in the sea. This expression recalls Israel’s exodus from Egypt through the Red Sea. This past great deed of the Lord exemplifies what the Lord will continue to do for His people.
chariot/horse/army/warrior. . . . They lie down; they cannot rise. These words recall Pharaoh’s chariots and army, which were destroyed in the Red Sea; not one survived (Exodus 14:16–28). Hence, Isaiah states, “They lie down; they cannot rise. They are out, snuffed like a wick,” meaning that the Lord destroyed Pharaoh’s army as easily as one extinguishes a lamp’s wick.
Do not remember the former things. In comparison with God’s doings in the past (for His people), He will do greater things for them in the future (see verses 19–20).
paths in the desert. DSS Isaiah reads “paths” rather than “rivers.”
My people, My chosen. God’s covenant people, the children of Israel.
Isaiah 43:22–28 The Lord Blots Out Israel’s Transgressions
The Lord addresses Israel directly and very personally, calling him by his former name “Jacob” and his new name “Israel.” The Lord condemns Israel for failing to pray to Him and to attend the temple with its attendant sacrificial offerings (43:22–24); furthermore, Israel had committed various sins and iniquities (43:24). Notwithstanding Israel’s sins, the Lord provided the Atonement for them: “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for My sake, and I will not remember your sins” (43:25).
burnt offerings/sacrifices. Israel had neglected to honor the Lord with animal sacrifices.
cane with silver. “Cane,” or calamus, is an aromatic reed (Exodus 30:23–25) that was used with other spices to prepare the temple’s holy anointing oil. Silver was used to pay for the temple’s maintenance. The priests and people had stopped bringing cane and silver to the Lord’s temple.
I am He who blots out your transgressions. The entire purpose of the temple offerings and sacrifices, mentioned in verses 23–24, was to point to Jesus Christ’s eternal sacrifice, His infinite Atonement. The sacrificial animals did not cleanse individuals of their sins, rather, as Jehovah states, “I am He who blots out your transgressions.” for My sake. The Lord is glorified by the purification and salvation of His people (see also Moses 1:39). Note also Isaiah 48:11, where “for my sake” is found twice. I will not remember your sins. These words recall the Lord’s promise in our day: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42; see also Isaiah 1:18).
Set forth your case so that you will be proved right. The Lord offers Israel the opportunity to explain itself, to prove to God that the accusations that He made in verses 22–24 were incorrect. But God’s accusations and judgments are always perfect and just.
Your first father sinned. A reference to Adam and his transgression (Genesis 3:17–19). your teachers transgressed against Me. Those who were supposed to instruct Israel regarding God’s law, through both example and the word of God, had also sinned against the Lord.
So I profaned the officers of the sanctuary. The temple’s officers were no longer temple worthy; therefore the Lord “profaned” them, meaning He removed their authority to act in His name.
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