Holy God, teach me to forget the former things, not to dwell on the past. Open my eyes to the new things You are doing (18,19)!
Read Isaiah 43:14–28
14 This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I will send to Babylon
and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians,
in the ships in which they took pride.
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
Israel’s Creator, your King.”
16 This is what the Lord says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
17 who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21 the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.
22 “Yet you have not called on me, Jacob,
you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel.
23 You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings,
nor honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with grain offerings
nor wearied you with demands for incense.
24 You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me,
or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins
and wearied me with your offenses.
25 “I, even I, am he who blots out
your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.
26 Review the past for me,
let us argue the matter together;
state the case for your innocence.
27 Your first father sinned;
those I sent to teach you rebelled against me.
28 So I disgraced the dignitaries of your temple;
I consigned Jacob to destruction
and Israel to scorn.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectTry to attach an image of your own to each of these ideas: fresh, unspoiled, newborn, pure.
We all love new things: beautifully wrapped gifts, an unmarked diary, the first green leaves of spring. Perhaps as we naturally delight in these things, we are tapping into an aspect of the Creator in whose image we are made and who “makes all things new” (Rev. 21:5). For sure, this passage encourages us to revel in all the positive elements of the newness which is ours, as Christians, to feed upon.
As part of this, in verse 18, we are encouraged first to forget about the messed-up past. This practice, essential for a peaceful, thriving life, is one which many of us find challenging. Only God is able to completely erase those things which are best forgotten (25), but at least we should all work hard at this life-skill, seeking our Lord’s support. It is Jesus, of course, who utterly washes away the ugly past and, indeed, this is one of those sections of Isaiah which feels in some ways as much a New as an Old Testament work. Verses 19–21 bring life to the new thing God is doing, with diverse images of living waters, refreshing and nourishing, reminding us vividly of Jesus’ similar words in John 4:13–15 when he offers us eternal life with him.
Imagine sharing that drink which God has specially prepared for his people in verse 20. What does it feel and taste like?
Read verses 22–24. Is there anything you need to confess to God or a rededication to make? Do so now. Rejoice in verse 25.
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