Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 43:18
“Do not call to mind the former things or ponder things of the past.” – Isaiah 43:18
The Lord is speaking through Isaiah regarding the things of the past. What is he referring to in regard to the former things? Just before this verse Isaiah starts regarding delivering them from Babylon, “Thus says the LORD your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, for your sake I have sent to Babylon, and will bring them all down as fugitives, Even the Chaldeans, into the ships in which they rejoice.” Isaiah 43:14. He tells them that He sent the Medes and Persians with their king Cyrus to deliver them from Babylon. Before that, we read “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.” Isaiah 43:3. Egypt as a ransom may refer to when God delivered Israel from Egypt with various plagues, especially the last one regarding the death of the first born and ultimately the charioteers and their chariots in the Red Sea. The reference to Cush and Seba probably refers to a time when the king of Assyria diverted from Palestine and Judea to deal with Egypt and Ethiopia.
What Isaiah is saying is that though these events were amazing and worth being remembered with thankfulness, praise and rejoicing, and no doubt bringing encouragement, they are not to be compared with what God is going to do and must not take precedent over future workings of God. “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 God has great plans for Israel. And He will declare them to Israel before they spring forth. “Behold, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth, I proclaim them to you.” Isaiah 42:9. The metaphor here refers to plants and flowers and the springing up out of the ground from the seed. The idea is that before there is any indication of life in a certain place, there is the seed and at this time God will proclaim it to them.
And this new thing is the coming of the Messiah. Note the first four verses in chapter 42. “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.” Isaiah 42:1-4. This servant He refers to is the Messiah, and He will bring forth a future deliverance to Israel, but not as the past deliverances. Before it was deliverance from those who held them captive but coming will be a deliverance from their sins which now holds them captive. They were not to dwell on past deliverances but focus on the great one coming.
This speaks to us today as well. God has done many things in our past that has helped and guided us. But we must be careful not to dwell too much on these and assume what He will do for us will follow the pattern of the past. God may be doing brand new things in our lives that are completely different than anything He has done before. Dwelling on what He has done may affect how we see His new work or may make us miss the new work altogether; just as Israel missed the future divergence by Jesus because it did not match past works. If He is doing something new in our lives, then let us see it as a totally new thing, asking Him to make it clear, so we can fully understand. I think we will be amazed by how God works in our lives.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.