Isaiah 43: 2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”
We have here three kinds of trials, and three promises from God regarding them…
The trial of “WATERS”–with the promise of His PRESENCE
Of raging RIVERS–with the promise of BOUNDARIES
And the FIERY trial–with the promise of His PROTECTION
Fire and water are often used in the Scriptures to illustrate calamity–WATER because it overwhelms; and FIRE because it consumes….
David often used both illustrations….For instance:
Ps. 66:12 “We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.”
Now, I want to deal with each of these types of trials and God’s Promises regarding each of them…
First, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of the trial of…
Is. 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…”
A “Water” kind of trial is commonly referred to in Scripture…..Again, David wrote:
Psalm 69:1 “The waters are come into my soul…”
Ps 124:4-5 “The waters would have engulfed us…”
A “water” kind of trial speaks of those times that are hard going….
We’ve all waded through a creek, or a lake, or the ocean…it is tedious, laborious, energy sapping…
It takes twice as much energy to get half as far…
This is what is meant by “When you pass through the waters…”
Twice in Scripture we encounter Jesus instructing His disciples to get into a boat and “cross over to the other side” of the lake or sea.
One time He went with them, and the other time He stayed in a mountain to pray.
It was in this second crossing that the disciples got about halfway across the sea and encountered a wind that was blowing against them, making their rowing very tedious.
It says Jesus looked out over the sea from the mountain and, “He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves” (Mark 6:48).
This illustrates the “passing through the waters” kind of trial perfectly!
This is the kind of trial that tests and develops our ENDURANCE.
You’re getting up every day and just putting one foot in front of the other.
The wind is not at your back, but seems to be blowing against you.
You’re having to fight for every inch of ground you take.
You say, “Didn’t Jesus tell me to get into this boat and head this direction? Why then this resistance?”
The “pass through the waters” kind of trial is going to develop your endurance!
Ro. 5:4 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations (waters kinds of trials), knowing that tribulation produces perseverance (helps us learn to not give up); 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Now, here’s the PROMISE:
In this kind of trial, God promises His Presence.
We’re told that Jesus left the mountain and went walking across the water to be with them.
He came to them walking on top of their trial in total victory over it!
He brought His Presence to them.
And His Presence was enough!….it says, “Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased” (Mark 6:51).
Just like He did with the disciples……He doesn’t usually deliver us OUT of this kind of trial, but walks with us THROUGH it, teaching us to endure hardship, and that His Presence is enough!
The second kind of trial is described as being like…
- Raging Rivers
“…and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee;”
Again, David describes his own experience with a “RAGING RIVERS” type of trial…
Ps. 124: 4b-5 “…a torrent would have overwhelmed us. 5 Yes, the raging waters of their fury would have overwhelmed our very lives.”
They are called “rivers” because this is about overwhelming trials…
The disciples “straining at rowing” were in a tedious kind of trial…
But in another “crossing” with Jesus they encountered an overwhelming, surging storm.
Mark 4:35 “On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.”
This was a “Rivers” kind of trial…the kind of trial that is OVERWHELMING…
It is overwhelming because it consists of a variety of numerous trials coming down upon us all at once..like falling dominoes.
In this “RIVERS” kind of trial we want to say with Jacob,
“All these things are against me…” (Gen. 42:36)
Or with Job, “The terrors of God are marshaled against me.” (6:4)
The great preacher C.H. Spurgeon talked about this kind of trial:
He said, “Accumulated distresses increase each other’s weight; they play into each other’s hands, and, like bands of robbers, ruthlessly destroy our comfort.”
This kind of trial can happen not only with circumstances, but also in our own soul…
Temptations from the enemy can rush in like a flood…and threaten to overwhelm us like a raging river.
Isaiah the Prophet talked about, “When the Enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of God will raise a standard against him!” (Isaiah 59:19)
Because of the rapidity and force of them, and their overflowing and overwhelming nature, we can feel helpless…
PROMISE: God will give BOUNDARIES to the trial…
“They shall not overflow you!”
I will not let them “overflow” you so that your faith fails…
They shall not separate you from the love of God, or destroy you!
Ro. 8:35,37-38 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…..Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And we can add, “An overflowing, overwhelming flood of trials cannot separate us from His love!”
Though they come near you, and upon you, and may greatly affect and distress you, yet they shall not hurt you, but will be made to work for your advantage!
For God is with you, to sympathize with you, to comfort and revive you, to teach and instruct you through your afflictions…
He is there to support and bear you up under them, and to deliver you out of them…
So we have tedious “Waters” kinds of trials, and the “raging river, overwhelming” kind of trial…
And finally we have the…
III. “Fiery” kind of trial.
“…when you walk through the fire…”
This is the most severe type of trial…
Because whereas “water” kinds of trials weary and threaten to overwhelm us, fiery trials threaten to consume us altogether.
Peter wrote concerning this kind of trial,
“Dear friends, don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you” (1 Pet 4:12).
Earlier on, Peter talks about the value of this kind of trial:
“…the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:7).
Our faith is tried by fiery trials as gold and silver is tried and refined and purified in the smelter’s fire…
God told Israel, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Is. 48:10)
In Deut. 4:20 Moses tells them, “But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.”
The PROMISE in this trial is God’s supernatural PROTECTION…
God says, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The fire will not destroy you.”
“When you go through a fiery trial, it won’t incinerate you and You won’t combust!”
He promises further that we will lose nothing but what needed to go in the first place….
Because that’s what happens when gold passes through the fire…the hidden impurities rise to the top and are skimmed off by the smelter!
The “wading through difficult waters” kind of trial tests your ENDURANCE.
The “overwhelming storm” kind of trial tests your TRUST.
The “fiery kind of trial” tests your FAITH and burns out of your life things that need to go anyway!
The Bible says that when the 3 Hebrew children were first thrown into the fire, they “…fell down BOUND into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.”
But when Neb. sees them alive, the first thing he notices is…
Dan. 3:25, 27 “Look! I see four men LOOSE, walking in the midst of the fire;”
And then he noted, “…and they are not hurt….”
The 3 Hebrew children were not even touched by the flame…but the ropes that held them bound were burned off!
27 “And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.”
SUMMARY: God promises His:
Presence in tedious trials
Boundaries in overwhelming trials, and
Protection in fiery trials