Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission
Lectionary Reflection
Year A, Easter 3, Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 43: 1-12
But now thus says the Lord, 
     he who created you, O Jacob, 
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 shall not overwhelm you; 
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, 
     and the flame shall not consume you. 
For I am the Lord your God, 
     the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. 
I give Egypt as your ransom, 
     Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. 
Because you are precious in my sight, 
     and honored, and I love you, 
I give people in return for you, 
     nations in exchange for your life. 
Do not fear, for I am with you; 
     I will bring your offspring from the east, 
     and from the west I will gather you; 
I will say to the north, "Give them up," 
     and to the south, "Do not withhold; 
bring my sons from far away 
     and my daughters from the end of the earth-- 
everyone who is called by my name, 
     whom I created for my glory, 
     whom I formed and made." 
Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes, 
     who are deaf, yet have ears! 
Let all the nations gather together, 
     and let the peoples assemble. 
Who among them declared this, 
     and foretold to us the former things? 
Let them bring their witnesses to justify them, 
     and let them hear and say, "It is true." 
You are my witnesses, says the Lord, 
     and my servant whom I have chosen, 
so that you may know and believe me 
     and understand that I am he. 
Before me no god was formed, 
     nor shall there be any after me. 
I, I am the Lord, 
     and besides me there is no savior. 
I declared and saved and proclaimed, 
     when there was no strange god among you; 
     and you are my witnesses, says the Lord. 

Reflection on Isaiah 43: 1-12
by John Gibbs, Ph D

“Becoming People Who Are Safe for the World”
(On the Road with a Large-Scale View)

Large-scale is the view of the Second Isaiah. East, west, north, south are here (vv. 5-6). Just as God created all that is, so God also created and formed and redeemed Jacob and Israel (v. 1). Waters, rivers, and fire are here (v. 2). Not only nation Israel, but also the nations of Africa are here (vv. 3-4). The far reaches of space (“the end of the earth,” v. 6) are here.

All the nations are gathered for a massive sizing up of history, and in that process “you are my witnesses, says the Lord” (vv. 9-12). Who is God? Far more than “my personal Lord and Savior.” “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (v. 10). There is no Savior God other than “the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King” (v. 15). This God is the One “who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters” (v. 16), and “a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, … to give drink to my chosen people” (vv. 19-20).

No people can be safe for the world, the world of other cultures and of all creatures, while it domesticates God to the uses of only individual wants and desires. The churches in our nation, which is said to be the primary leader of all nations, do well to recover this large-scale faith. It is faith in God the Creator, the King of all nations, the Holy One in all history. Our trust in the Creator of the universe, the Lord of history, obligates us to lift above special interests our decisions about drilling for oil and polluting water and sky. These are moral issues on the large-scale, issues too big for only one political party, too inclusive for only one economic structure, issues that extend beyond any one religious group.

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament
Isaiah 43:1-12
this page 
Psalm 116
New Testament
1 Peter 1:17-23 or 
Acts 2:14a, 36-47
Luke 24:13-35

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN.   He originally wrote this reflection in 2002.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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