But Now Thus

Ben Davenport
6 min readSep 24, 2023

The sweeping language of the prophet Isaiah has struck me, in this season. The judgement of God against Israel and all the world is also blended with mystery, images of restored borders and those once scattered being returned. Isaiah is captivated by the awesome wrath and divine power of the Creator, the God of Israel, who raises kings and throws them down in perfect and matchless judgement. That is inspiring and worth contemplating. But — there’s more. Leaping up out of the warnings of judgement and the reminder that only Israel’s sin caused the evil they faced is Something else, Someone else. Who is He? What will He do? He promised a new thing, something besides judgement, something worthy of hymns of praise. What is this new thing — we are so in need of it, in a world that feels so cyclical and inevitable. There must be a force more potent, more real, than wants to help us?

Isaiah 43, like a bolt from heaven. Each phrase a cosmic thundering, inescapable, like water gushing from a dam.

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.”

Before, there was judgement and loss, even loss of your own making. But now this is how it is: The Creator, the Former, the God of the Universe says: “Do not be afraid, because I have redeemed you — I call you by the name I gave you — you mine.” How this must have sounded to Isaiah’s ears? Israel was not damaged goods, but was called, redeemed, belonged. There is more than this. It is indeed wonderful that we are so thoroughly claimed, so marked for a purpose.

This is just the opening salvo. It is not just a court document, paperwork respectfully signed. This is not a voice mail providing small relief from a court date or jail time. No, the Creator and Former has more “thus”, and each lands with more unwieldy force:

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.

The Creator and Former of the Universe, the Righteous Judge, says He is with us. Fear not, You’re mine, I know your name. No water, no fire can impede His closeness. No river, no fire will even leave a mark on you. He does not just shout over the roar of the waters or the licking of the flames, He dares the elements to take their shot, because He knows they’ll miss. It really is staggering to consider these bellows from Heaven — we are wanted by God.

In words we can understand, metaphor we can digest, our Creator and Former, our Father, tells us how much He’s willing to pay — what are we worth to Him?

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.

Absurd. Entire nations, chunks of earth and dirt and mass, incalculable value, an astronomical price. The Holy One, the Savior, the Lord spares no expense. We are worth the treasures of Egypt and the plenty of distant lands. You, and me. Me, a blonde little boy with a big head, and He says I’m worth Egypt! An ancient empire full of history and power and meaning, and He trades it for my ransom. I write the words and can’t wrap my mind around them. Even what is hard or just annoying becomes a little matter when the Creator insists on your worth.

There’s more, if you can believe it. Why? Why are we called, redeemed? Why does He want to be close in everything, to walk us preserved and unharmed through fire and water? Why are we worth a trade of nations?

Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.

I read it over and over and weep. I don’t have self-worth issues, but sometimes, I’m sure you understand, the human desire for pity and angst rings its tiny bell. It’s beatable, but if you let even a sliver of it hang around — you can forget that Your God, the Holy One of Israel, sits before you, behind you, within you, all around you. That He looks you in the eye and draws closer with each word: “Why? I’ll tell you; because you are precious in my eyes, the center of my attention and my greatest treasure. You are honored, worth lifting up and brimming with destiny. Because I love you.”

It’s worth noting that what the Lord is trading in these passages is not human trafficking or paying off a mobster — He owns the whole planet and He calls all peoples to Him, yearning for their repentance. But He insists on using this language, Isaiah communicates the overwhelming love of God as a redeeming force that no weather pattern, empire, or person can hold back, not ever.

This next blast from Isaiah is not the end of it, but it was the “end” of what I believe the Lord highlighted from chapter 43. The Lord, the Holy One, who calls us and is with us, values us beyond any calculable cost, and says He loves us. What an encouragement, a trust we can and must lean into, that says “Because You said it, it is true, and I will live like it.” Awesome.

But wait, there’s still more!

“Fear not, 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 up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
every one who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

Don’t be afraid, because I called you and redeem you and am with you. But not just you! I will call offspring, from every direction. North or south, east or west, nothing can withhold from me. What you thought was lost or irrecoverable, I will bring back. Those whose hearts you long to call my name? I will bring them home as sons and daughters, even from the farthest edges of distance, time, and pain.

Every one whom is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

Called. Created. Formed. Made.



The price He paid was far greater than any ransom. Even if every nation that has ever existed were given up, if every living person from Adam were traded, it would not measure up — it would not have been enough.

Jesus was — Jesus is. Why? Why such a cost, why did He announce these promises, these convictions, thousands of years ago, for eyes and ears spanning eternity?

For God, the Holy One and Savior of Israel, created us and formed us in His image and called us by His name. This same God viewed this Earth and every broken, frightened, aching human on it as precious in His sight, and loved us in such an incomparable way, that He ransomed and gave the life of His Most Beloved Son. This same God did this so that every son and daughter scattered across the four cardinal directions of the Earth, no matter who or how far, that believed in the Beloved would not be overcome by flood or burned by fire. Whosoever believes in Him will not face the fear and sting of death and separation, but will live forever and ever with the One who loved us first, and most, when we could give absolutely nothing in return.