By I Gordon
Isa 43:16 Thus says the LORD, Who makes a way through the sea And a
path through the mighty waters...
From the passage above we see that God introduces Himself as the God who makes a way. He will make a way! This is a very special verse for me because God gave it to me during a very difficult time. So the whole focus of this study is to simply say what the Lord emphasised to me during that time – and that is that despite the difficulty of a situation and despite the options that look limited in the natural, God is a God who makes a way. He makes a way. I’ll probably use a few words to say the same thing, but if you leave this study stronger in your faith that God ‘makes a way’, and can do it for you, then I’ll be content for that is all you really need to know.
So let’s start with the context of the passage before moving on to what it means for you and me.
A brief background to the passage
"I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King." Thus says the LORD, Who makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters... (Isaiah 43:15-16)
In many prophetic passages in Isaiah, the prophet foresaw a time of great difficulty for the Israelites – a time when they would be captives to their enemies. It would be a time when they were taken from the homeland and exiled in foreign countries. Historically we know and see the fulfillment of such passages in the Babylonian exile in 586 BC. With their home and temple destroyed, and as the years in exile became many decades, the great question that burned in the hearts of the Israelites was ‘is the situation hopeless?’ ‘Is there a way out of this impossible and difficult time?’ ‘Is there a way home?’ It was to people feeling completely hopeless whose faith was reaching breaking point that God stepped in and spoke.
And as He did so, it was like He had to re-introduce Himself again to His people and remind them once again of His character. He starts in verse 15 by saying ‘I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.’ He begins by reminding them that He is YAHWEH – the great I AM! The self existent, active, ever present God. Maybe you have been feeling like the Israelites were? Maybe you have taken your eyes off the Lord and onto your situation? Maybe the difficulty of what you face has clouded out the thought and presence of He who is for you? Maybe you have forgotten that the one who is on your side is the eternal, all-powerful, ever present God ‘who makes a way’? Israel sure had. And I had when God reminded me of this scripture. So maybe you have as well. Unfortunately it is something that our nature finds all too easy to do. So what else did God remind them in this little re-introduction about Himself? Well, He reminded them that He is the Creator of Israel. Israel, God’s people, didn’t come into being by accident. It was through the plan and purpose of the eternal God. So the Lord was saying to them in so many words ‘I created you. You are mine. Do you really think that I am going to forget you or let you go?’  And finally God reminds His people that he is the King with a capital ‘K’. Israel was in exile and suffering under the king of Babylon, but they were not to fear this earthly ‘king’. The real King was still overlooking all that occurred.
He who makes a way through the sea...
‘...Who makes a way through the sea And a path through the mighty waters...’
In verse 16, God reminded the people that He makes a way through the
sea. What was God doing here do you think? What has the ‘sea’ got to do
with their current predicament? What He is doing is reminding them of
and in particular of a time when there previously seemed like there was
no way forward. It was the time of the exodus from Egypt when the
Israelites faced certain death! Now, I know you are a
so let me just give you the quick executive summary of that time as a
When the Israelites began their journey, God specifically lead them
in a path where they would avoid trouble and confrontation.
Exodus 13:17-18 tells us ‘When Pharaoh let the people go, God
did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country,
though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they
might change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led the
people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The
Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.’
This is what the Christian would call the ‘honeymoon phase’. Did you experience something of this when you began your journey with God? Did you notice that God made things easy for you when you were born again?  It is often the way as we take our first steps in the Lord. As God did for the nation of Israel as a whole, so He does for His people today.
As Israel’s journey continues, their God ordained path became more
difficult and culminated in a good old fashioned dead end with the
sea in front of them and the armies of Egypt behind them! Yet this
was all part of the plan of God for He said to Moses
‘Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth,
between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea,
directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, 'The
Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed
in by the desert.' (Exod 14:1-3)
Your journey also will lead to some over-whelming situations where there is no hope – save the action of God. It’s all part of the walk.
- With no way back and no way forward, God does what God does best - The impossible. He made a way where, naturally speaking, there was no way. ‘ Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."... Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.’ (Exodus 14:13-14, 21-22)
So this is what God wanted the people of Israel in the days of Isaiah to remember. He is STILL the God who makes a way through the sea. Let’s break this thought down a bit further.
The Path of God leads to the Waters
From what we have been looking at, it is clear that you can be following the God designed path for your life and it can lead straight to mighty waters. This is especially so if God desires to use you to help others. He won’t have pretenders. If you are to comfort others you first must have been comforted yourself. (2 Cor 1:3-4). All of us will face the waters at some stage. The verse earlier on in Isaiah chapter 43:2 says ‘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.’ Note how it doesn’t say ‘if you pass through the waters...’ It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. It also doesn’t say ‘when others pass through the waters’ but ‘when you pass through...’ It will happen. But praise God that He also adds that ‘I will be with you!’ That makes all the difference.
A quick look at ‘through’ – the good and the bad!
Thank God that He is able to make a way when no way naturally exists. He makes a way through. Now, this has positive and negative aspects does it not? Let’s start with the negative and then end on a high!
The negative aspect of this word ‘through’ is that we have to go ‘through’. I’m not sure about you but I would have preferred some other words here. Um, something like ‘around’ or ‘over’ possibly. ‘He makes a way around the difficulty’. Yeah, that sounds better. I would have even accepted ‘over’. ‘He makes a way over the sea’. That at least gives the impression that we are lifted above it and don’t really experience all of the trouble. Yep, I would have accepted that. But going ‘through’ is what the scripture and experience tells us is the truth.
The positive aspect of this word ‘through’ is that we get through. The period of difficulty is not forever and there is no need to setup camp in the middle of the waters thinking that that is your lot in life for all time. No, Israel had to walk through the waters but they kept walking. They kept progressing forward. And when the mighty waters rise in your life, you too will get through because God is the one who gets you through. And let me say one last positive aspect: you will be changed for the better having gone through it!
Don’t remember the past???
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Straight after saying the He will make a way, God instructs His people to forget the former things and not to dwell on the past. Now why would He say this? Especially after just reminding them of a past event! Normally God wants us to remember the past so that we can bring to mind the previous deliverances and learn from our former mistakes. Now He says “don’t”. He says 'forget the former things'. Why is that do you think?
I believe there is a tendency to think of the Lord as the God who was and the God who will be, but not as the God who is. That is, we remember great things that God once did and rejoice in them... we look forward to what God has promised He will do when He returns and gain hope from that. But what about now? What about the great “I AM” – the God of the present tense? That is what God wanted His people to avoid. He was telling them that He is going to do something new and amazing for them in their day. No longer would the children of Israel just have to look back to the stories they had heard from their youth of God’s deliverance during the exodus from Egypt. No. They were going to experience something amazing themselves. He would make a way so that they could return from their exile and provide streams even in the desert. God is alive and interested in the lives of His people - then and now.
As I mentioned at the start of this study, this verse is special to me for God gave it to me at a difficult time in my life. And He did provide and make a way for me as well in honouring and fulfilling His word. The scripture in Isaiah goes on to say that he does this so that His people may ‘may proclaim my praise.’ You may be in the place right now where you can see the mighty waters rising around you. The trials and difficulties of this life may be coming against you in way that seems like there is no way out. If that is so then please remember that God is One who ‘makes a way’. May you too proclaim His praise as you trust Him once again.
The following are the lyrics to a song by Don Moen taken from this scripture:
God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength
For each new day
He will make a way
He will make a way
By a roadway in the wilderness
He'll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain
He will do something new today
Which of course is exactly what God was trying to tell His people
(then and now!) at the start of this great chapter in Isaiah. Look
again at how this chapter begins. I was going to highlight the
really good bits but after doing that it was nearly all in bold so
read it again and believe it as a promise for your own life as well
for the character and purpose of God towards His people has not
changed one little bit in the thousands of years since it was
‘But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. "For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. "Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. "Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. (Isaiah 43:1-5)
It is always good, when faced with great uncertainly, to remember
the way in which He has led you thus far. It may have been a
difficult and bumpy road but I bet you can still remember times
when God has graciously spoken direction, given comfort, granted
courage and strengthen your inner being to pull you through those
times. Go on... take a bit of time and think about His leading and
strengthening in times past. Might do you good and bring
encouragement for today. Instead of being like those who left Egypt
of whom it is written:
‘Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, That He might make His power known.’ (Psalms 106:7-8)
We should be like the Psalmist Asaph who wrote:
‘I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds. Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples.’ (Psalms 77:11-14)
Alright, alright... You see right through me. Probably more to the
point is that I can be a lazy writer!
 ↩ I have just planted a nice new persimmon tree in my garden. Initially you need to give them support to get them going. So you plant them in some nice fertilised soil, you support them with a stake against any winds and you give them regular water. You have to for they are young and weak until they get established. It is no different when a person becomes a Christian. God knows this. He knows we are weak and need a lot of help and support. But you can also overdo it. When I purchased the tree the salesman at the garden store said to stake the tree but only to a certain height else the tree will not put down a good root system. He also said that if it is planted in compost only, the roots will only grow to the edge of the compost and no further. Thus, what seemed like a great help to the tree initially can severely weaken and limit its growth later on. The moral of the story you ask? Well, God supports us greatly when we are young Christians but He also knows that to grow, faith, like a muscle, must be exercised. If He continued to make things easy all He would produce is shallow rooted Christians with an inch deep faith. Thus the times when God specifically leads us away from difficulty do come to an end. He wants us to grow and as Israel, and probably you experienced, this can mean some trying times!