woman looking up wondering July 18 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Isaiah 43, 44, 45, 46

Is God With Us?

Where is God? That is usually the question people ask when they are in trouble or besieged by circumstances. Sometimes God seems hidden, silent, or unavailable. Where is God? Is He with us? These are questions that Israel had and for which we need answers. Today's Bible study will help us.

In our chronological Bible reading we have read that Israel was cast out of the Promised Land and is in exile for her sins. Judah, her sister nation, is following in her tracks and within 100 years will suffer a similar fate. God comforts His people by telling them not to fear, for even in their punishment He is with them. He will not forget them. He knows where they are staying and the pain and struggles they experience. When the time is right and when they have learned their lesson, the punishment will be over and they will be restored in their relationship to Him and their land. Isaiah 43:1-3:

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (NIV)

The message of Isaiah 40-66 is a message of hope, especially for those who are in exile. God will again re-gather them to the land if they will repent. Sometimes, like Israel and Judah, Christians walk away from God. When they walk away from Him they can expect to be punished (what good parent does not discipline his children for their disobedience?). Even though they have to walk through troublesome times, however, it does not mean God is through with them and that He has no more plans for them. Indeed, the LORD is with them and ready to accept them again back into His loving arms when they turn to Him. After they are restored to Him, He will bless them once again. Even though they may still go through many trials, He promises to be with them.

God is faithful. God promises to gather His people, the Jews, back into their land (Isaiah 43:4-7). How can this be possible? A nation which has been conquered does not return to its land - it loses it. The answer is that God is Sovereign over all nations and can do as He wills. The false gods that Israel and Judah worship cannot deliver them but the Sovereign LORD of the universe can and will. Assyria will soon be conquered by Babylon, and then the Medes and Persians will destroy Babylon under the hand of God (Isaiah 43:14).

After seventy years, as God promised, under the future King of Persia (Cyrus by name) a remnant of the LORD's people will return to their land. Because of their sin after the exile, however, Israel will again be oppressed by other nations. The process of returning to the land in present days began when Israel was recognized as a nation in 1948 and it continues today, although there has been no national Jewish repentance, and she is constantly threatened and attacked by neighboring nations. If God is faithful to Israel, He will be faithful to us (both Jews and non-Jews) by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:15). “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,” (Galatians 3:26, NIV).

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--
children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God, (John 1:12-13, NIV) .

God tells His people in exile that He wants to make a new start with them, but they must first repent! Is this what we need? God promises by His own character (“This is what the LORD says”) that He will rescue Israel. Their deliverance from exile is certain, but repentance is required! Their idols can not save them; only the true God can. God is Sovereign; God is powerful; God is caring; and God keeps his promises. Relying on lifeless idols made by men is idiotic - they cannot see to save anyone. They cannot do anything. On whom or what do we rely? Can they save like God can? In Isaiah 44:21-22 God says,

“Remember these things, O Jacob, for you are my servant, O Israel. I have made you, you are my servant; O Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (NIV)

God says to us today,

Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-- an image made by man's design and skill.

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:29-30, NIV)

If we have strayed from God, the call to us is the same as the call to Israel: Remember Me and return to Me, for I have redeemed you (1Peter 1:17-19; Revelation 2:5)

God knows the future. In an astounding turn of events, God predicts the future King Cyrus of Persia will “say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid,’” (Isaiah 44:28, NIV). Who but the true God can predict these things and fulfill them? This is not some mystic prediction. These things literally happen 150 years later. God even names the king who will do this, although he has not even been born. Wow! If God predetermines the course of the lives of the Israelites, can He not also predetermine the course of our lives? Let us repent of any evil. Let us trust Him fully.

In that day (after their exile) a remnant of Israel will be saved. In a future day, after the Great Tribulation period, known as the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), all Israel will be saved. The invitation is now extended to us. God says in Isaiah 45:22 (NIV),“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (more...)

Someday, all people and nations and all their idols will bow before the greatness of God. In the meantime, God says to Israel “I am he; I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you,” (Isaiah 45:4b, NIV).

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please,” (Isaiah 46:9-10, NIV).

Lessons to Live By

  • When we walk away from God, we can expect to be punished. We may not think that God cares, but He is with us. After we sincerely repent, He is ready to accept and restore us (more...).
  • If God is faithful to Israel, He will be faithful to us (both Jews and non-Jews) by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:15).
  • If we stray from God, the call to us is the same as the call to Israel: Remember Me and return to Me, for I have redeemed you.
  • The one Almighty God of heaven, the creator and sustainer of all things is the true God. He knows the future and predetermines the course of our lives. There is hope for us if we repent and are faithful.
  • If we have strayed from God, let us repent of any evil deeds and take courage; God is still with us. He is with us in our troubles (Psalm 23:4) and will deliver us when the time is right.

Today’s Bible Memory Verse

Isaiah 45:22 (NIV) “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”

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