In Isaiah 43, God is declaring for all to see and know that Israel is his chosen people and that He has redeemed them. He says to them that they are His witnesses and to the nations they will testify to His great power and love. This is exactly what God says of us in this day – He has redeemed us for the purpose of testifying to His great love and power. In Isaiah 43:18-19 the Lord proclaims, "Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." The term "past events" in this passage refers to the deliverance of the people of Israel from their time of captivity in Egypt. The people are encouraged to look expectantly to the future anticipating something wonderful and new, the coming Messiah! The Lord made a "way in the wilderness" when there seemed no possible path to rescue humanity from the cost of sin. He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins! This was wonderful news for the people of Israel that still holds true for us today! There is a pattern here as we read on to Isaiah 44. God proclaims who He is, and Israel fails to respond appropriately. God confronts them and then blesses them. This pattern has existed from the time of Adam and Eve's original sin until today. God calls us and confronts us when we stray from Him. But notice how he uses the words of a loving Father in Isaiah 44:22, "I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like a mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you." The Lord's call to return to Him is also extended to us today. What a wonderful blessing to receive forgiveness and restoration from our Heavenly Father when we repent and turn back to Him. When we respond to His call, He receives us with open arms and blesses us.
Restoration of Israel
43 Now this is what the Lord says—
the one who created you, Jacob,
and the one who formed you, Israel—
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are mine.
2 I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior.
I have given Egypt as a ransom for you,
Cush and Seba in your place.
4 Because you are precious in my sight
and honored, and I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you
and nations instead of your life.
5 Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back!’
Bring my sons from far away,
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who bears my name
and is created for my glory.
I have formed them; indeed, I have made them.”
8 Bring out a people who are blind, yet have eyes,
and are deaf, yet have ears.
9 All the nations are gathered together,
and the peoples are assembled.
Who among them can declare this,
and tell us the former things?
Let them present their witnesses
to vindicate themselves,
so that people may hear and say, “It is true.”
10 “You are my witnesses”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
No god was formed before me,
and there will be none after me.
11 I—I am the Lord.
Besides me, there is no Savior.
12 I alone declared, saved, and proclaimed—
and not some foreign god[a] among you.
So you are my witnesses”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
“and[b] I am God.
13 Also, from today on I am he alone,
and none can rescue from my power.
I act, and who can reverse it?”
God’s Deliverance of Rebellious Israel
14 This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says:
Because of you, I will send an army[c] to Babylon
and bring all of them as fugitives,[d]
even the Chaldeans in the ships in which they rejoice.[e]
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.
16 This is what the Lord says—
who makes a way in the sea,
and a path through raging water,
17 who brings out the chariot and horse,
the army and the mighty one together
(they lie down, they do not rise again;
they are extinguished, put out like a wick)—
18 “Do not remember the past events,
pay no attention to things of old.
19 Look, I am about to do something new;
even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness,
rivers[f] in the desert.
20 Wild animals—
jackals and ostriches—will honor me,
because I provide water in the wilderness,
and rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people.
21 The people I formed for myself
will declare my praise.
22 “But, Jacob, you have not called on me,
because, Israel, you have become weary of me.
23 You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings
or honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings
or wearied you with incense.[g]
24 You have not bought me aromatic cane with silver,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.
25 “I—I sweep away your transgressions
for my own sake
and remember your sins no more.
26 Remind me. Let’s argue the case together.
Recount the facts, so that you may be vindicated.
27 Your first father sinned,
and your mediators have rebelled against me.
28 So I defiled the officers of the sanctuary,
and set Jacob apart for destruction
and Israel for scorn.
44 “And now listen, Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen.
2 This is the word of the Lord
your Maker, the one who formed you from the womb:
He will help you.
Do not fear, Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun[h] whom I have chosen.
3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants
and my blessing on your offspring.
4 They will sprout among[i] the grass
like poplars by flowing streams.
5 This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’;
another will use the name of Jacob;
still another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
and take on the name of Israel.”
No God Other Than The Lord
6 This is what the Lord, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the Lord of Armies, says:
I am the first and I am the last.
There is no God but me.
7 Who, like me, can announce the future?
Let him say so and make a case before me,
since I have established an ancient people.
Let these gods declare[j] the coming things,
and what will take place.
8 Do not be startled or afraid.
Have I not told you and declared it long ago?
You are my witnesses!
Is there any God but me?
There is no other Rock; I do not know any.
9 All who make idols are nothing,
and what they treasure benefits no one.
Their witnesses do not see or know anything,
so they will be put to shame.
10 Who makes a god or casts a metal image
that benefits no one?
11 Look, all its worshipers will be put to shame,
and the craftsmen are humans.
They all will assemble and stand;
they all will be startled and put to shame.
12 The ironworker labors over the coals,
shapes the idol with hammers,
and works it with his strong arm.
Also he grows hungry and his strength fails;
he doesn’t drink water and is faint.
13 The woodworker stretches out a measuring line,
he outlines it with a stylus;
he shapes it with chisels
and outlines it with a compass.
He makes it according to a human form,
like a beautiful person,
to dwell in a temple.
14 He cuts down[k] cedars for his use,
or he takes a cypress or an oak.
He lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest.
He plants a laurel, and the rain makes it grow.
15 A person can use it for fuel.
He takes some of it and warms himself;
also he kindles a fire and bakes bread;
he even makes it into a god and worships it;
he makes an idol from it and bows down to it.
16 He burns half of it in a fire,
and he roasts meat on that half.
He eats the roast and is satisfied.
He warms himself and says, “Ah!
I am warm, I see the blaze.”
17 He makes a god or his idol with the rest of it.
He bows down to it and worships;
he prays to it, “Save me, for you are my god.”
18 Such people[l] do not comprehend
and cannot understand,
for he has shut their eyes[m] so they cannot see,
and their minds so they cannot understand.
19 No one comes to his senses;[n]
no one has the perception or insight to say,
“I burned half of it in the fire,
I also baked bread on its coals,
I roasted meat and ate.
Should I make something detestable with the rest of it?
Should I bow down to a block of wood?”
20 He feeds on[o] ashes.
His deceived mind has led him astray,
and he cannot rescue himself,
or say, “Isn’t there a lie in my right hand?”
21 Remember these things, Jacob,
and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you, you are my servant;
Israel, you will never be forgotten by me.[p]
22 I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud,
and your sins like a mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.
23 Rejoice, heavens, for the Lord has acted;
shout, depths of the earth.
Break out into singing, mountains,
forest, and every tree in it.
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
and glorifies himself through Israel.
Restoration of Israel through Cyrus
24 This is what the Lord, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb, says:
I am the Lord, who made everything;
who stretched out the heavens by myself;
who alone spread out the earth;
25 who destroys the omens of the false prophets
and makes fools of diviners;
who confounds the wise
and makes their knowledge foolishness;
26 who confirms the message of his servant
and fulfills the counsel of his messengers;
who says to Jerusalem, “She will be inhabited,”
and to the cities of Judah, “They will be rebuilt,”
and I will restore her ruins;
27 who says to the depths of the sea, “Be dry,”
and I will dry up your rivers;
28 who says to Cyrus, “My shepherd,
he will fulfill all my pleasure”
and says to Jerusalem, “She will be rebuilt,”
and of the temple, “Its foundation will be laid.”
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.