We often feel that we are special before the Lord…and rightly so. The Bible is replete with stories of how God cares about us. He demonstrated his love to us in many ways and we are assured of his loving care. In particular, we could always relate to the way God loves Israel. One of the encouraging messages that God gave to Israel was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine’” (Isa. 43:1).
Foremost, it was God himself who created Israel. Out of the many nations on earth, he chose Israel and set her apart that he may bless her. This was emphasized by Moses when he said, “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors” (Deut. 7:7-8). The birth of the nation of Israel is the result of God’s love and faithfulness. God even promised Abraham that all nations will be blessed through him.
After creating Israel, God formed and fashioned her to accomplish his plans and purposes for her. Israel had to go through many challenges to prepare her for God’s perfect plan. The Lord revealed this plan saying, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’” (Jer. 29:11-13). Indeed, it was not God’s plan that Israel be banished from the face of the earth, but to be sustained and preserved for the glory of his name.
Part of God’s plan is to redeem Israel from her bondage. It was with outstretched arms that Israel was redeemed from the yoke of slavery in Egypt. Time and again, Israel drifted away from God and served other gods. As a consequence, Israel suffered much. Nevertheless, the Lord’s redemptive hands remained extended to her to keep her from falling. In fact, the Lord said to Israel, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3).
In the same manner, we were created in the image and likeness of God, and were formed and shaped to accomplish his purpose. But while we are favoured by the Lord, we have all sinned and fallen short of his glory. We were then destined for utter separation from God but he summoned and called us out of darkness and brought us into the wonderful light of his Son, Jesus Christ. Today, the same words he uttered to Israel are ours to claim. He said, “You are mine.” In this regard, we can receive the same assurance of guidance and protection.
There will be challenges that each one of us will face, but the Lord will be with us. Just like the Israelites, he will cause us to pass through waters without drowning, and cross rivers without being swept over. There will be trials and we will feel as if we are in a fiery furnace, but we shall overcome. God himself will be with us in all these struggles and he will save us. We shall continue to hear his voice saying, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Glory to God!