Doing a New Thing

Isaiah 43:18-20 (NIV) says this “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making away in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

In the context of this, God through the prophet Isaiah spends about 30 chapters warning Israel (and others) of the coming judgment for their rejection of God. But in Chapter 40 we see a turn that God will bring bring comfort and restore them, through the coming of the Messiah.

After Israel outright rejected their God and worshiped other Gods, he offers them renewal in the Messiah. “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.” God forgets their sin – but it’s not a human forgetfulness (like”I lost my wallet”) it’s a divine all-knowing grace-drenched forgetting. (Like “I know everything, and I intentionally am not remembering it.”) He isn’t going to dwell on their sins – why? Because the Messiah will absorb the wrath and penalty for all sin. He calls them to focus on the new thing he is doing, not the old. Forget that, he says!

We can apply this to us in the sense that we are of the new covenant in Jesus. Jesus is the Messiah, the one whom God himself provided as light and life, and the one who settles the past (and present, and future) sins through his righteous life, the shedding of his divine blood on the cross, and his resurrection — the GOSPEL! When we are given a new life in Jesus we are also called to forget the past, don’t dwell on the past and instead intentionally focus on the growing life life in Jesus that is “springing up” in us. It’s there, “do you not perceive it?”

When life happens, and there is seemingly no path forward, he creates one. He “makes a way in the desert and stream in the wasteland/wilderness.” We are created by God to glorify Him in every area of our lives (jump back a few verses to v7), God provided the ultimate way for us to do this in Jesus the Messiah and he promises to make a way forward for us to that today.

Fear response – make more idols?

In Isaiah 41 we read God reminding Israel of his position as sovereign creator. This is meant to reassure them as they are fearful. What do they do when fearful? Well, verse 7 tells us they literally construct more idols, instead of turning in comfort to the God who made them and is in control of everything.

Sound familiar? What do we do when we are faced with anxiety and fear? Do we turn immediately to God or to something else? Hmmm. What idols are our “go to” idols?

God reminds them again in verse 10 who is with them:
“Fear not for I AM with you, be not dismayed for I AM your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with MY righteous right hand.”

God is to be our strength, our help, our righteousness in Jesus. “I AM” – reminds us of YAHWEH, the LORD, the almighty eternally existing, sovereign, Creator God of all – that God, who lacks nothing, loves us and has offered us reconciliation in Jesus.

Why then fear? Why then turning to idols when you have the great I AM?

Keeping a bad plan going? Stop it.

Sometimes, let’s face it, we get ahead of ourselves. I’m guilty of *occasionally* not thinking thru all the elements of a plan. Maybe even pressing on with a bad plan just for the sake of pressing on. You ever do that? Naaa. I didn’t think so…

In Isaiah 30, the prophet is warning Israel that their plan is one such plan. He says “Ah, stubborn children…who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance , but not of my spirit, that they add sin to sin.”

In context, they are looking to the military might of Egypt as their hope of salvation, not the God who created them and formed their nation. Stubborn.

What’s the solution? Stop. Turn around. Cease executing the bad plan. More appropriately – stop sinning and repent (turn and change direction). Look at verse 15 – “In repentance and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Our hope should not and cannot be in ourselves, our bad plans, or trusting in others. Our hope and trust needs to be in God, specifically in Jesus Christ and the action required on our part is to cease execution of our own bad plan (doing it our way) and turn and run God’s plan in our lives. In short – turn from sin and pursue righteousness – our verse just told us there is salvation and peace. This is because of Jesus.

We serve a God of incredible mercy and grace (he invented those words!). Verse 18 tells us he is waiting to be gracious and merciful towards us. What is he waiting for? For you to stop it with your bad plan and turn in his direction and run his plan…