Look Both Ways
Lord, thank You for undertaking all that You do for my sake.
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.
“No history ought to receive so much of our attention as the past… and future… history of the church of Christ” (J. C. Ryle, 1816–1900).
When it comes to the past, whether in church history or individual experience, there are two mistakes that Christians often make. The first is to think that the past has no bearing on the present and the second is to live in the past, expecting God to do nothing new. The tension between those two positions resides in this chapter.
Because God is unchanging in his character and his ways, we should draw encouragement from his former dealings with us. Here Israel is reminded of
its deliverance from Egypt (16,17), when God’s people marched through the divided Red Sea, and their enemies drowned on its seabed! Their Creator
(15) is also their Redeemer (14), but they had willfully forgotten this. They had not tired themselves out in worship, but rather had tired God in their sin (22–24). As a result of this, God was going to bring judgment upon them (28), no matter how much they pleaded innocent (26).
Even while reminding them of this, however, God says, “Do not dwell on the past” (18). God is going to do a new thing, something even greater (19).
He will not only bring them out of captivity, humiliating their Babylonian captors (14), but also begin a work that will end with the renewal of creation (19,20) and a new people formed for his praise (21). The crowning blessing for these people is the blotting out of their sin, not because they deserved it but for his own pleasure (25). As the New Testament people of God, we see how this was achieved, not just through Cyrus who defeated the Babylonians, but ultimately through Christ, in whom alone we find forgiveness!
What has God done for you in the past week, month, year? How should that affect how you live for him today and what you ask him to do tomorrow?
Lord, Your complete forgiveness is to be prized above anything else on this earth.
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