Look Forward–and Back!
Father, as Your light dispelled darkness in the world, I pray Your light will dispel the darkness in my heart.
Read Isaiah 43:14-28
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13,14).
A translator once spoke to me about a language he was having difficulty with. Then he realized that the language conveyed a different view of time. Because you can know the past but not the future, he envisaged the past stretching out ahead with the distant past only just discernible. The future approaches from behind, with only the very near future being predictable because of what is known from the near past. So you look forward into the past, rather than the future. It makes sense!
This passage conveys a paradoxical view of time reflecting two perspectives on past and future. On the one hand, God calls Israel to “review the past for me” (26). The prophet speaks of what God has done for Israel–not burdening them with unbearable demands for sacrifices (23; cf. Mic. 6:6-8, probably written at about the same time) but bringing judgment on them because of their sin (28)–and of what Israel did in the past–not bringing any appropriate sacrifices, but constantly ignoring and disobeying God (22-24,27,28). On the other hand, they are told to “forget the former things” (18) because now God is going to do something new that should be the focus of their attention. He will deal with Babylon, “making a way in the desert,” and he “remembers your sins no more” (19,25). It reminds us that looking both forward and backward are necessary. Dwelling on the past, as if that is what determines the future, only leads to despair. Ignoring the past, as if there are no lessons to learn, only leads to continuing ignorance. We must review the past for God (26), taking note of our sin and his forgiveness–remember that what is written is from “The Lord … your Redeemer” (14)–and then look to what God wants from us and will do for us in the future.
Think about the last week. What should you be forgetting and what reviewing? What do you expect God will do next week?
Lord, how I long for You to do a new thing in my life. I am ready, waiting and desire a powerful work of Your Spirit.
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