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. Isaiah 43:2
This verse contains some incredible imagery of what God does for his people. There’s so much we can learn from the meaning of Isaiah 43:2 that applies to our lives today. And I think we often miss some of the beauty and depth that this verse offers us.
In this blog post we are going to break down this verse and see how the Isaiah 43:2 meaning can impact our lives and faith. Let’s start by looking at the context in which these words were written.
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The Context Of Isaiah 43:2
The book of Isaiah is one of the most significant books of prophecy and one of the most important books in the Bible. These words are regularly quoted throughout the New Testament and one of Jesus’ go-to books to quote.
In the previous chapter, Isaiah 42, we see the nation of Israel punished for their disobedience. This is a common occurrence throughout the Old Testament. God’s people rebel and he turns them over to their enemies due to their sin.
But hope is not lost. God has not forgotten his people and he will deliver his people. We see Isaiah display a certainty of redemption in Isaiah 42:10-43:7. God will come through for his people despite their failures.
Leading up to Isaiah 43:2 we see God’s faithfulness to his promises and pleas for Israel to remain faithful.
This is what leads us to the verse we are looking at; it centers around the hope that we can have in God and the redemption he provides. Let’s dive into the meaning of Isaiah 43:2 and see what it says.
The Meaning Of Isaiah 43:2
To help you better understand the Isaiah 43:2 meaning we are going to look at each of these images that Isaiah uses.
When You Pass Through The Waters, I Will Be With You
Isaiah uses two symbols, fire and water, to show the trials that the nation of Israel was going through. When these two symbols are used together they suggest totality of testing. The promise that we will see played out is that God will protect his people despite the immense challenges they face.
“When you pass through the waters” is referencing the Israelites’ history. During their 40 years wandering the desert Israel had passed through water with the help of God. From Moses parting the Red Sea in Exodus 14 to crossing the Jordan in Joshua 3.
Each time they had to pass through the waters that were well over their heads. Crossing was dangerous. But God was with them and he lead them through.
The reality of this life is that we will face trials and suffering. There will be “waters” we have to pass through. The promise of Isaiah 43:2 is that God will be with us.
When You Pass Through The Rivers, They Will Not Sweep Over You
Isaiah is doubling down on the image. When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep you over.
This is a similar image to the previous, but this time there’s the element of rushing water. Every year many people die in rivers because they got swept away in the current.
The promise of God is that when the rivers of life come our way they will not sweep you over. God will uphold his people. We’ve seen this literally play out in the nation of Israel in Joshua 3. But this also applies to the other trials we face; God will not let them sweep over us.
When You Walk Through The Fire, You Will Not Be Burned; The Flames Will Not Set You Ablaze
Notice the theme here… when you pass through waters, when you pass through rivers, when you walk through fire.
It’s not IF these things happen, it’s WHEN. Isaiah is being clear, in this life we will face trials and hardships. God never promises his followers an easy life, but he does promise to be with us through it all.
This final image is powerful. Fire is destructive and deadly. In a large blaze it can feel like there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
And that’s what life feels like sometimes; like we are helpless to put out the “fires” that are surrounding us.
The promise of Isaiah 43:2 is that though we will face fires, they will not consume us. God will be with us and lead us through. Think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who faced the furnace in Daniel 3:21-25. God did not allow the flames to touch them.
Similarly in our lives we will walk through “fire” and while it might seem like all is lost God will protect his children.
How Isaiah 43:2 Applies To Your Life
So, how do we apply the meaning of Isaiah 43:2 to our lives? It boils down to having confidence in God to do what he’s promised in the midst of our suffering and difficulties.
How can we display confidence? You keep your eyes on Jesus when you pass through the waters and when you walk through the fire.
In Matthew 14:22-33 an incredible story unfolds that perfectly depicts this. Jesus calls Peter to walk on the water toward him during a storm. Peter doesn’t hesitate and hops out of the boat. Soon he takes his eyes off Jesus and focuses instead on the waves and the depth of the water. He sinks. Jesus doesn’t hesitate and pulls him out.
In this story Peter illustrates both what we should do and shouldn’t do in storms. First, he boldly steps out of the boat in response to Jesus. When we accept the calling of Jesus there will be storms, but that shouldn’t keep us from following Jesus. Peter did what we all should do.
However, Peter walking on water is also a cautionary tale. Once on the waters he began to sink because he took his eyes off Jesus. When we are facing storms in this life we’ve got to focus on Jesus rather than the storms around us. When we take our eyes off Jesus the storms of life will quickly overtake us.
So, when you pass through the waters keep your eyes on Jesus and the storms that you face will not take you out. God is with you and he will lead you through.
There’s so much more to Peter’s walk on water; you can read more about it here: Peter Walks On Water (5 powerful lessons from Matthew 14:22-33)
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