by Rabbi Jeffrey Adler
The first 39 chapters of Isaiah overwhelmingly contain rebuke for the chronic corruption of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, leading to the impending punishment of exile. While chapters 40-66 still contain some of this, there is more of a reminder of God’s heart for His people and assurance that, while exile will come, that exile will not be the final act of the drama- Adonai will restore and father His people. Chapter 41 states this as strongly as any other. I’d like here to focus particularly on verse 10.
“Al-tirah”, “Do not fear”, “ki Imm’ka Ani”, “because I am with you”, or, “because I Am is with you”. The greatest asset the people have is the Lord’s enduring Presence, in spite of their failures. Our greatest security is never found in or based upon our own character, but, on God’s Character and promises.
“Al-tishta”, “do not anxiously look about you,” “because “Ani Eloheyka”, “I Am is your God”. The God of Israel is not Zeus, Baal, Marduk, Allah, Chemosh, or any of the fickle idols of the surrounding nations. He is the faithful One who brought Abraham from Iraq to the Promised Land, had brought Israel out of Egyptian bondage, and established a history of faithfully demonstrated power. There was no need for the people to keep looking over their shoulder to see if He were still there; there would be no doubt or question.
“Imatstika”- “I will strengthen you”. Judah would be strong, surviving even the greatest world powers. This verb is in the perfect tense, seeing the action of the verb as one point on a timeline, making it very strong and decisive.
“Af-azartika,”- “surely, I will help you”. This is another perfect tense verb where the Lord reassures that they will not face the future alone.
“Af-t’maktika bimin-tzidki”- “Surely, I will hold you up with the right hand of My Righteousness”. This verb not only occurs in the perfect tense, but, also, in the piel stem, which takes the verb’s core meaning and ratchets up the intensity, causing the sense to be that Adonai will support the people even though they may be staggering and on the brink of collapse. The term right hand in Isaiah, and, in the prophets in general, often refers to the Messiah Himself. Messiah, Yeshua, will personally hold the hands of the nation of Israel, even through judgement.
What a wonderful promise! What a wonderful foundation for hope of an individual and a national destiny!
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is president of the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.