Based on a sermon from Sunday 5th June 2022
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.
It’s good to remember the past, but we are called to anticipate the future, and God calls us to do this with faith in Him. This is a fascinating and instructive switch between the previous two verses of Isaiah 43 (16-17) and Isaiah 43:18-19. In the two verses before (Isaiah 43:16-17), Israel was told to look to the past by remembering the great things God did for them at the Red Sea. But then in Isaiah 43:18, they were told, do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. This shows us that there is a sense in which we must remember the past, but only in terms of God’s great work on our behalf. There is also a sense in which we must forsake and forget the past, with all its discouragement and defeat, and move on to what God has for us now, today and in the future. We can anticipate the future with faith.
We are to always remember that we have been created and formed by God. We are no accident, for we are the work of God. As we are no accident we all belong to God! Because of this God has something new and exciting for us in our present situation. So He wants us to be looking expectantly for what He is about to do. He does not want us to live in defeatism and hopelessness. Instead we are to be looking for Him to change defeatism and hopelessness, i.e. the desert, from badlands, into a fruitful place, because He will create rivers for us in the desert. This new thing, will be a new blessing for us! Sadly, too often we look for God to do for us exactly what He has done for us in the past. But here in Isaiah, we learn that He wants to do a new thing for us, in a new way.
Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, told them that if anyone belonged to Christ, then they were made new, the old ways of life have passed away.
“From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does. It is true that in the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks. But we no longer think of him in that way. If anyone belongs to Christ, then he is made new. The old things have gone; everything is made new! All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself. And God gave us the work of bringing everyone into peace with him.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-18 International Children’s Bible, ICB)
Because our Queen’s faith is central to her life, central to her identity, she lives her life with a strong sense of belonging to God. The God the Queen worships, our God, is undoubtably the one true God, the first and eternal and all-powerful being (Isaiah 43:10-13). Her Majesty proclaims that God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has sustained, guided and strengthened her throughout her long reign, and she expects Him to continue in this vain. But she doesn’t just focus on how God has worked in and through her past, she looks to see what God is doing now and so by faith she anticipates a good future.
This is to be our response. What is God doing now, today, in this moment in time, here in this place? You see God is always doing a new thing. Lamentations 3:22-23 says this,
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
The words “they are new every morning”, that’s what gets to me, God’s love is new every morning. It is always fresh vibrant, exciting, full of life, full of compassion and mercy, never stuck, always moving forward. What an awesome love!
The Good News is this; God wants to do something new for you in your life. Do not get stuck by looking for Him to do the same things that He has done for you in the past, in the same way. He wants His relationship with you to remain exciting, not stagnate and boring.
So let’s be alert and look expectantly for the NEW things that He desires to bless us with today. As you do this keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, for in a changing world, we can truly trust our unchanging Lord, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” (Heb 13:8).