“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, 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 shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.’” Isaiah 43:1-2
The people of God have weathered some nasty storms throughout the centuries – just read the Old Testament and a little church history. Two of the biggest challenges Israel faced are mentioned in this passage. “The waters” refers to the Red Sea when the Israelites found themselves between Pharaoh’s chariot driving army and an impassable body of water. They were trapped and their doom at the hands of the most powerful military on earth looked certain, except for one critical detail. God was with them.
With the Egyptian army arrayed before them, God spoke to His people through Moses saying, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Ex. 14:13-14). Then God placed Himself between His people and His enemies – moving the pillar of cloud that had been leading the people and placing it behind them, separating them from the Egyptians (Ex. 14:19-20).
Similarly, when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon demanded that all people under his rule bow down to his image, three bold Israelites refused. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood together and said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
We have the same confidence of those three rebels and of Moses. God has promised to be with us, to fight for us and to deliver us. How He chooses to save us is completely up to Him, as both stories demonstrate. No one could have guessed the way God would have worked in either case. But God’s purpose in these stories and every situation is to make it clear to everyone that He is in charge and that He is unlike any other god.
So with Irma bearing down on Florida and the East Coast, let’s hold on to this confidence from God’s Word. When we pass through the waters, God will be with us. When we walk through fire we will not be burned. God will deliver us, whether by life or by death and whatever occurs He will be glorified.
Oh Lord, be merciful to all in the path of Irma. Spare the lives of people to give them more time to repent and turn to the Lord Jesus in faith. Use the power of this storm to remind all of us how small and weak we are and how great and mighty you are. Mobilize your people to be agents of grace and ambassadors of hope. Humble all of us and exalt Jesus. We pray this in His name – the One who holds all things together by His powerful word. Amen.
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