Summary: Remember Forget See Proclaim
Today is the first time we gather for worship in 2014. It’s a new day. We face an opportunity to approach our lives in a fresh way. And our encouragement and our challenge to do this comes from the Scripture that [person] just read. Are you up for some encouragement with which to face the New Year? Are you up for a challenge?
Our passage from Isaiah asks of you and me 4 things. It asks us to remember. It asks us to forget. It asks us to open our eyes and see, and then it asks us to make known what we see, to proclaim. Remember, forget, see, proclaim. Let’s look more closely at these 4 things.
Isaiah 43:16 This is what the LORD says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters,17 who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
Over and over again in the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, the people of God are called by God to remember the good things that He has done, the ways in which He has acted with grace and compassion in the past, the miracles that He has done.
Repeatedly, you find the Old Testament prophets calling God’s chosen people to remember. You also find the writers of the psalms talking about or reminding themselves to remember.
Psalm 77:11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
Psalm 105:5 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.
So remembering, recalling is really, really important. In today’s Scripture passage, Isaiah
is writing to the people of Israel, God’s people, who are living in exile in Babylon. They have been for some time.
Their faith and hope was at such a low point during their captivity in Babylon that they constantly needed assurance that things would eventually turn around for them.
Throughout the book of Isaiah these assurances are often repeated over and over again using different word pictures to describe God’s love for them.
So in chapter 43 of his book, Isaiah recalls what may be the single most important event in the history of God’s people in the Old Testament. God makes a promise to deliver them.
Let’s step back a bit. The people had been under the thumb of the Egyptians for around 400 years, oppressed as slaves, living in horrible conditions.
Then God made a promise that is recorded in Exodus: Exodus 3:7-9 …7The LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. 8"So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 9"Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.…
That was an incredible promise. One that wasn’t easy to believe. Those enslaved in Egypt didn’t even have a reference point for what freedom felt like. The hope behind this promise may well have hit people as empty, maybe even cruel. Nevertheless, God made this promise to deliver them.
God’s promises are true. And Isaiah wants us to know that, and to remember God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises. So he says: Isaiah 43:16 This is what the LORD says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters,17 who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
God promised to deliver His people. He did. It took time. But His promise was in His Word and the fulfillment of the promise is remembered here by Isaiah. We remember not only the promise, but, as Isaiah does here, the key moment when the promise was fulfilled, against all odds.
How do you feel about the promises of God? When you read in Jeremiah 29 the principle of how God works among His people: Jeremiah 29: 11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity”.