1 Now, this is what Yahveh says, the one who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: “Don’t be afraid, because I will protect you. I call you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you. 3 For I am Yahveh your God, the sovereign king of Israel, your deliverer. I have handed over Egypt as a ransom price, Ethiopia and Seba instead of you. 4 Since you are precious and special in my sight, and I love you, I will hand over people instead of you, nations instead of your life. 5 Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. From the east I will bring your descendants; from the west I will gather you. 6 I will say to the north, ‘Hand them over!’ and to the south, ‘Don’t hold any back!’ Bring my sons from distant lands, and my daughters from the remote areas of the land, 7 everyone who belongs to me, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed–yes, whom I made!
Isaiah is talking about how God protected his people, allowing harm that was supposed to come to them to fall on the other nations. Instead of Israel, he handed over Egypt, Ethiopia and Seba. Then, after they had rebelled and God allowed his people to go into exile, he will make sure that they return. He will tell those distant nations to hand over his people, and not to hold any back.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ today, God feels the same way about you. You may be in an unhealthy, unstable place. But God is calling that place to give you up. He will not allow any of his people, specially formed for his glory, to be lost.
LORD, thank you for exchanging us, for taking us out of the place where we are, and restoring us to what we should be.