Ukraine Relief Fund

Same God, New Things

New Years are opportunities for fresh starts, and we all like a fresh start. Especially if the previous year was particularly difficult, if things didn’t go well, it was marked with pain, if it was fraught with challenge.

And while there might be some good things that happened in 2022, some things about last year make us want to say, ‘Good riddance!’. Especially something like the war in Ukraine; even though our churches have responded to Putin’s atrocity with valiant self-sacrifice to deliver humanitarian aid and help and rescue to those devastated by the war and those fighting on the front – we’d still rather it all be over.

In the Bible, God has a surprising amount to say about time and our relationship to it. Crossing into a new year is an opportunity to reflect on the past and to prepare for the future. Look at God’s instructions to Israel in Isaiah 43.18-19:

Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

1. Forget about it
The first instruction regarding time is to forget about the past: remember not the former things or consider the things of old. In the immediate context, in verses 16 and 17, the ‘old things’ reference God’s deliverance of his people from Israel: the Lord, who makes a path in the mighty waters …. The Exodus is the greatest example of God’s power to his people in the Old Testament. Why would God tell us so to forget about his greatest victory? Because what he’s up to know is even greater.

2. The Best is yet to Come
The orientation towards the future is excitement about great victory: the wild beasts will honour me, the jackals and the ostriches. The ‘wild beasts’ point to those who are far from God, those who are rebellious, those who are doing their own thing. Whatever it is that God is up to now results in surprising numbers and kinds of people being brought to him. God wins in the lives of people for whom we’ve given up hope!

3. No time like the present
The link between God’s great deeds of old and the new future He is creating is what He is up to now. First, he tells us what He is doing: I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. This paints a picture of God removing obstacles. Like he made a pathway through the waters of the Red Sea to deliver his people from Israel, God is making a way now for us to enter into experiential fulfilment of his promises. And the second thing we learn from this text is that the new thing God is doing is now; now it springs forth.

But springing forth requires us to have the eyes of faith. When a seed is planted in the ground, it is at work, it is growing, it is doing things – but we can’t see it yet. This is why God asks us, do you not perceive it? When God sends forth his word, it begins acting to accomplish his purpose, even though we can’t see it. Eventually, at the right time designated by God, God’s purpose breaks out. Something that God has planned and set in motion from eternity becomes a reality, and it feels like it happens suddenly.

What should we learn from this text to apply to our lives? Here are three key things:

1) God is faithful. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and so we can trust that He will be faithful in the present as He has in the past; He did great things before, and he’ll do them again.

2) We can trust God with the future. And the future God is creating will be better than we can imagine. God will save people that we think are beyond his redemption.

3) God is leading us in victory now. We prepare ourselves to receive God’s blessings by perceiving with faith the potential of God’s Word. What God has promised, He will do; what God has spoken will happen.

Give God thanks for his faithfulness in the past; pray for God’s great victory in the future, and prepare now to receive the new things God will bring into our lives.




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