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When the prophet Isaiah turns his attention to describing God as Magnificent Creator, his beginning point is the vastness of the universe (Isaiah 40). But before long his Incomparable God is hovering over a much smaller work of art, the most prized work of his hands, humankind.
In Isaiah 43:1-7 Creator God has turned his eye toward his weary people who are scattered and seemingly insignificant, yet highly treasured. Isaiah paints Yahweh's powerful hands as very tender here as they form his prized creation, working patiently and with an undying love on the work of his hands. Let's look at the passage.
I love the intimate language of verse 1 which communicates assurance and comfort to a fearful, discouraged people. But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Several amazing truths unfold from these words.
Verses 2 to 6 are loaded with promises. Promises of: protection, deliverance, value, presence, and restoration. Then in verse 7 Isaiah makes a pretty incredible statement: Everyone who is called by the name of the LORD has been created for his glory.
Stop and reflect for a moment on the words just read. Did you catch the significance of what Isaiah is saying? If you're reading this without your Bible open, how about opening it up and reading the words of Isaiah 43:1-7 for yourself? God had a whole lot more for this work of art in mind than we can even grasp. The Creator’s purpose in imagining his people and bringing them into being was that they might bring him glory.
To grasp the impact of this passage we need to know what precedes it. Isaiah 42:18-25 describes the bleakness of Israel’s years in exile. A consequence of their refusal to live in relationship with God, the exile has a corrective purpose. Yahweh cries out as a father, pleading with his work of art to open their ears and eyes and to respond correctly to the purging so that it can complete its work. The purging process is tough, but it directly corresponds to the seriousness of the rebellion which caused it.
Yet even so the Creator hovers over his work of art. He laments over its imperfections, yet never ceases to see its potential, and never forgets his original purpose in making his masterpiece. Created for his glory, we are the highly prized work of his hands. As far-fetched as that sounds, he said it for Israel then, and he says it for his people still.
O Lord, how easily we forget that we are valued, steadfastly cared for, and redeemed. Since you--in a creative work of love-- brought us into being as your very own, teach us to be supple in your hands so that you can shape us as you desire. If we look closely, our rebellion against you is strangely similar to what took Israel into exile, as if we did not have ears to hear or eyes to see. Oh that we would bring glory to you! May knowing your intent keep us pressing in to you in order that it may one day be so.