Precious in His Sight

Isaiah 43:1-28

Have you noticed how what we value changes throughout the course of life? But yet in a way it really doesn’t? For the infant: full belly, dry diaper, warm snuggli and they’re good to go. Get a little older: not just any snack will do, must be this brand or that flavor; clothes have to be from particular store; hat & gloves, you’ve got to be kidding. Before you know it, it’s things like; “you need how much for groceries”, “we’re never going to make the mortgage and the car payments and the college loans and the credit card payment this month”; and suddenly we’re back to “warm, dry and fed, life is good” again.

Yes, the details change; but the categories stay the same – food, clothing, shelter. And even categories can be further summarized: security. May not be highest priority, but pretty close to the top. Toddlers, once they get their legs, keep coming back to mommy or daddy – security check. Obvious at the other end, when begin to lose their legs, rely on things to provide sense of security. Need is there in the middle, too, just achieved in other ways. Or we try to achieve security.

But what about when world gets turned upside down. Lose job, lose home, lose most if not all things that give feeling of security, have to move to new place and try to start over. Then what? Or what if you’re just feeling like you’re all alone, out in middle of firing range. Where do you turn for security then? The Christian says, “Well, duh, God, of course.” OK, but why? “Duh, again, he’s the only one with power, resources; he’s the provider, one everybody calls out to when in trouble.” All true. But one thing’s missing.

If it’s going to do any good to turn to God for our security, God must have desire and willingness to use his resources in that way for our good. God makes plain through Isaiah: not only has desire, willingness, it’s his purpose to provide for his people because he views his children as special.

Jesus loves the little children, / All the children of the world. / Red and yellow, black and white, / They are precious in His sight, / Jesus loves the little children of the world.

World didn’t have to wait for Jesus to take children in his arms to see, hear, know that God loves people (4). Didn’t have to wait for Jesus to teach disciples how to pray to understand God is heavenly father (6b-7a). Our text makes both those truths plain. And the other part about God being God and powerful and sovereign and all, that’s in here too.

A. who God addresses v.1,3,6,7

those whom God has created (out of nothing), built up (out of dust), redeemed (by payment of debt), called by name (called), you are Mine (adopted) – 5 particular and specific acts of God beginning with universal/cosmic and narrowing down to individual. Known to mind of God before creation were names of those to whom he would give his name, particular individuals he would adopt into his family.

people of God (3) God declares he is their Lord, their God, their Savior/Deliverer, the one who has paid a debt in their place to make them his people. Of great importance here, use of his unique name: Holy One of Israel. People of God must be a holy people since he is a holy God; must be brought and bought out of the world into new way of life. To that end God makes them new, gives them new hearts and a renewed mind.

children – sons and daughters (6) It is a king and his subjects kind of relationship between God and his people. But must remember who his people, his subjects are: members not only of kingdom, but of household. Not the servants quarters, the family part of the palace, reserved for sons and daughters of the King.

belonging to God – called by his name, created / formed (shaped) / made – No place for the self-made man here! (7) Nor is there place for the self-directed person either. If we are called by family name, we must wear it well. Since we wear fingerprints of our Maker, we must behave according to his design for us. God made his people for a purpose, rightfully expects them to live in conformity with his intent.

B. what God promises v.1-2, 5-6

protection / security in troubles, not deliverance from troubles; do not be afraid (1,5) even though:

you will go through (2)

the waters the rivers the fire but without harm

Perhaps referring to God’s deliverance of his people through Red Sea, across Jordan River; anticipating protection of three men in fiery furnace. Pretty well covers the gamut of trial and tribulation believers can expect. Important to remember what water and fire accomplish: washing away of filth, purging impurities. God’s purpose for believer in trials is to cleanse and purify, make them holy, fit them for their purpose in this life and the next.

restoration (5-6) Though people of God scattered throughout world, far from God and from home, not because he has abandoned them or because they are beyond his reach. In his time, his way, according to his perfect purpose, will call them to himself, bring them home. Intent for Jewish people was to restore them to Israel; that’s where Jesus would be born. Intent for believing Jews and us is to restore us to his kingdom; nothing can hinder his purpose.

C. why God does it v.3-4,7-17

he paid the price (3) Israel’s freedom from slavery in Egypt came at great cost to the Egyptians, a deliverance orchestrated by God. Their deliverance from sin would come at greater cost still, a price paid by God himself as a substitute, Jesus, took place of sinful people. God sacrificed not only nations but his very Son for sake of his people.

he views as “precious and special” NET (4) Seen that way not for what they were to begin with, but for what God would make them. God sees his redeemed people as shining trophies of his grace, glow-worms(!), that will display his great glory in their salvation.

he loves (4) God’s providing a ransom for his people demonstrates his love (1 John 4:10); here he declares his love. Good fathers love their children because God set example first; loves them because he has done all necessary to rightfully adopt them into his family and have them be fit members of the kingdom. He also loves his children because they are brothers/sisters of favorite son, Jesus.

he’s God, and it brings glory to him (7) God will be glorified by the process and in the outcome. Since mankind is created for God’s glory, and God’s purpose cannot and will not be frustrated, God will receive due glory at the end if not before.

without equal (10-11) No created entity can even compare, much less compete with God in all his perfections -infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

sovereign ruler (12,15) has the rightful authority to govern his creation as he deems best; God has decided it best, in fact a perfect plan, to consider his children precious and special, caring for them in perfect love and wisdom.

eternal and omnipotent (13,16-17) God lacks nothing he needs to bring about his purpose including our redemption.

compassionate – for your sake (14) God does all things for his glory first but not without regard for the good of his children. They are significant part of the equation, secondary but important.

D. what God expects v.1b,5a,18-28

confidence – do not fear (1,5) If that’s how God views us, relates to us, promises to do for us, what can possibly cause us to fear, to lack confidence in God and the future?! Like Paul, “What can [possibly] separate us from the love of God?” (Rom. 8:35)

look to future, don’t live in past (18) God isn’t done doing great and marvelous things. Reminiscing is fine but don’t try to live there; especially don’t get stuck reminiscing about awful stuff done in past. God had brought people out of Egypt, into Canaan, would bring back out of Babylon. More importantly, even bigger events were still to come.

anticipation (19-20) Not only bigger, would be new and better: deliverance from sin by way of promised Messiah. Spiritual benefits of future (for Israel, past for us) deliverance far outshine all God had accomplished in past. We, too, should anticipate future new heaven and earth with blessings stored up for us.

praise (21-24) formed together as a people for God’s use, natural response to praise him, thank him for his deliverance from their captivity. Especially true and proper since that is also God’s intent in forming people into a body, whether political body or church body. Now, add to that Israel can take absolutely no credit for their deliverance – they hadn’t sought God, pleased him with sacrifice or service; in fact, had burdened God with their sins.

seek his forgiveness (25-28) Once again, reminder of what God does for sake of his people: stands ready to forgive, blot out acts of rebellion, sins against holy God. Record of transgression written down in God’s book, Lord Jesus comes along with his blood and erases the record. From God’s perspective when looking at individual, sin treated as if committed by Jesus and paid for by him in our stead. True for remnant of believers in Isaiah’s day, true for God’s children in our day.

Matters not what your past is, or even your present; gracious loving God stands ready to receive and forgive all who come to him in faith believing that Jesus is who he said he is, that he is only one who can make us fit for heaven. The King is ready to welcome his children home, dress them in best clothes, feed them best food, provide security forever. Whether your first time in palace or coming back after short time away, you won’t be turned away. Even if you haven’t left palace, the Father always receives children gently, lovingly; come to him and find mercy and pardon accompanied by the love he has promised to us.

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