Israel need not fear, even when they pass through fire and water, for God promises to be with them.
This is another oracleAn oracle is a divine utterance of guidance, promise, or judgment delivered to humans through an intermediary (who is often also called an oracle). In the Bible oracles are given by Balaam (in the book of Numbers) and by David (in 2 Samuel). A number... More of salvationSalvation can mean saved from something (deliverance) or for something (redemption). Paul preached that salvation comes through the death of Christ on the cross which redeemed sinners from death and for a grace-filled life. More that announces God’s personal relationship with Israel. Because God promises to be with the people, they need not fear. God knows God’s people by name, just as God knows the names of all the stars (40:26)–a sign of the intimacy of the divine-human relationship and of the relationship between God and creationCreation, in biblical terms, is the universe as we know or perceive it. Genesis says that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the book of Revelation (which speaks of end times) the author declares that God created all things and... More described in this part of IsaiahIsaiah, son of Amoz, who prophesied in Jerusalem, is included among the prophets of the eighth century B.C.E. (along with Amos, Hosea, and Micah)--preachers who boldly proclaimed God's word of judgment against the economic, social, and religious disorders of their time. More.
Like others in Second IsaiahSecond Isaiah refers chapters 40-55 of the book of Isaiah. This work was likely written during Israel's exile in Babylon (597-538 B.C.E.). Second Isaiah includes poetic passages of hope as well as descriptions of the Suffering Servant. More, this text has a careful poetic structure. It begins and ends with the reference to God’s “creating” and “forming” the hearers (vv. 1, 7). Near the top of the passage, four dangers are named: waters, rivers, fire, and flame (v. 2); near the end, the four directions are named from which God will bring the people home: east, west, north, and south (vv. 5-6). Twice, people are urged not to fear (vv. 1 and 5); twice, God calls Israel by name (vv. 1 and 7). In the middle of this careful structure, we learn why God will take such pains: “Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you” (v. 4). God’s love is announced throughout the Bible, of course, but this is the only passage with the simple “valentine” direct from God: “I love you.”
As Israel’s “redeemer” (see Theological Themes), God will do whatever it takes to get Israel home. In the metaphorical language of the text, CyrusPersian leader who allowed Jewish exiles to return home. More can have other nations in exchange, but God will have Israel. The language is poetic and does not mean that God does not care about other nations. As we have seen, precisely in these chapters God is concerned to save all the nations (see 45:22).