The movie The Free State of Jones tells the US Civil War story of Newton Knight and some Confederate deserters and slaves who aided the Union Army and then resisted slaveholders after the war. Many herald Knight as the hero, but two slaves first saved his life after his desertion. They carried him deep into a secluded swampland and tended a leg wound he suffered while fleeing Confederate forces. If they’d abandoned him, he would have died.
The people of Judah were wounded and desperate, facing enemies and feeling helpless. Israel had been overtaken by Assyria, and Isaiah prophesied that one day they (Judah) would also be overcome by an enemy—Babylonia. Judah needed a God who would help, who would rescue and not forsake them. Imagine, then, the surging hope when the people heard God’s assurance: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:5). Whatever calamity they faced or trouble they would endure, He would be with them. He would “pass through the waters” with them, leading them to safety (v. 2). He would “walk through the fire” with them, helping them through the scorching flames (v. 2).
Throughout Scripture, God promises to be with His people, to care for us, guide us, and never abandon us—whether in life or death. Even when you find yourself in difficult places, God is with you. He’ll help you pass through the waters.
Against the backdrop of the present Assyrian invasion (Isaiah 10:3–6) and the future Babylonian destruction and exile (39:6–7), God assured the people of Judah saying, “Do not fear!” (43:1). God reminded them that they were His chosen people and had a special personal relationship with Him: “I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (v. 1). God also gave them many assurances of His love and protection: He revealed Himself as their Creator, Redeemer, Owner, and Protector (vv. 1–4) and declared, “For I am the L