Was Isaiah speaking about literal waters, rivers and fire? (Isaiah 43:2)

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2

ESV - 2 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.

Clarify Share Report Asked June 05 2019 My picture Jack Gutknecht

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
From the similarity of the verse cited in the question to verses elsewhere in the Bible (such as Psalm 66:12) that are more clearly using fire and water not in a literal sense, but as metaphors (fire because it consumes, and water because it overwhelms) representing the full range of dangers and perils that can befall humans, I would say that the same metaphorical interpretation is to be applied here also, and that the verse is referring to God being capable of delivering from any type of disaster -- even ones that might seem hopeless in human terms.

(However, the verse may have also been intended to evoke in the memories of readers past incidents from Israel's history where God literally demonstrated such power, as in parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-29), and in not allowing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be harmed when they were thrown into the fire by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3).)

June 06 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
Note the following comment on the verb, “pass.”
When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass 1 through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm 2 you.

NET © Notes	1 tn The verb is understood by ellipsis (note the preceding line).
2 tn Heb “burn” (so NASB); NAB, NRSV, NLT “consume”; NIV “set you ablaze.”

The late Dr. Warren Wendel Wiersbe (May 16, 1929 – May 2, 2019) in his wonderful book, Index of Biblical Images sees “River” as symbolic of “Trials (Isa. 43:2”), and it is the only verse he lists.

Though we pass through tribulation,
All will be well;
Ours is such a full salvation;
All, all is well.
Happy still in God confiding,
Fruitful, if in Christ abiding,
Holy through the Spirit’s guiding,
All must be well.

June 07 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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