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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 trapped by circumstances. Sometimes God seems hidden, silent, or unavailable. Where is God? Is He with us? Today's Bible study will help come up with answers to these questions.

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. The prophet Isaiah gives this message to Israel:

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” (Isaiah 43:1-3, NIV).

The message of Isaiah 40-66 is a message of hope, especially for those who are in exile. The LORD will again re-gather them to their homeland if they will turn to God from their sins in repentance.

Sometimes, like Israel and Judah, we Christians walk away from God. If we walk away, we can expect to be punished—what good parent does not discipline his children for their disobedience? What happens after that? Is God done with us? Are we cast away forever? No. Even though we may walk through troublesome times, he is still with us and has plans for us. The LORD is ready to accept us back into His loving arms when we repent and return to Him. After we are restored, He will bless us once again. He is faithful to us as He was to Israel.

In the future, 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).

The LORD tells His people in exile that He wants to make a new start with them, but they must first repent! They must be genuinely sorry for their sin, turn from it, and appeal to God for His mercy and forgiveness. 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. The LORD is Sovereign, Almighty, Loving, and Faithful to keep His promises. Relying on lifeless idols made by men is idiotic—they can't see, hear, or do anything to save anyone. On whom or what do we rely on? Can any of these things save as God can? The LORD 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” (Isaiah 44:21-22, 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)

The LORD knows everything, even the future. In an astounding turn of events, God predicts Cyrus (the future king of the Medes and Persians) will “say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid’” (Isaiah 44:28, NIV). He names the king who will do this, although he has not even been born. Can these things really happen? Those who are conquered and taken away from their land aren't usually allowed to return. They do not get their land back. Who but the true God can predict these things and fulfill them? This is not some mystic prediction with symbolic meaning. These things literally happen 150 years later. Wow! If God predetermines the course of the lives of the Israelites, can't He also predetermine the course of our lives? Let's repent of any evil and 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 of Isaiah to Israel is now extended to us. The LORD 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 will bow before the greatness of God. In the meantime, the LORD 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). The same God who sustained Israel in times of trouble will sustain us.

“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 turn to God from our sins, He is ready to accept and restore us (more...).
  • God was faithful to Israel forgiving their sins, and God is faithful to us forgiving our sins and giving us eternal life (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.

Focus 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.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: Peace is not found in things or ideal circumstances. Where can Ultimate Peace be found?

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