Summary: After the difficulties of the past and the drudgery of the present, God calls on Israel to embrace their future. For each of us embracing the future can be a great challenge, a new thing is on the way!.
Subject: Embracing the Future
Text: Isaiah 43: 14-21 “Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships. 15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. 16 Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; 17 Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow. 18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. 21 This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.” Isaiah 43:14-21
Introduction: After the difficulties of the past and the drudgery of the present, God calls on Israel to embrace their future. For each of us embracing the future can be a great challenge. Every human being has three areas of existence: The Past, the present and the future. The past is behind us, we live in the present and the future is ahead of us.
Embracing the future does not mean that all the challengings are over. The nation of Israel would face a few more years of oppression and bondage. Yet, God promises to hear their cry and bring deliverance each time. In our text, God promises to do a new thing that would surpass all that he had done in the past. This text comes with an unwritten caution. There is a danger of allowing past successes and past failures to limit our expectations of the future. Looking at the past can give us a new sense of appreciation for all God has done through the years. The past can serve as a launching pad for the future which allows us to go forward with a new determination.
One cannot move ahead while looking back. No vehicle can go backward and forward at the same time. The Bible outlines that losers and failures are those who look back and dwell in the past; and when we dwell in the past fear, bitterness and un-forgiveness persist! We must only use our past as a tool for learning and gaining wisdom. When we make mistakes, we are not to dwell on it and beat up on ourselves. Once we have truly repented, God never uses our past actions to judge us. Only malicious people, the media and politicians tend to use people's past to judge them. Our past does not determine our future, therefore it should not be used to hold you hostage. When a person continually looks back to the past, they are poised to backslide and as such, are making their past their future. The failure of the Israelites was their continual looking back to and yearning for the things from which God had already delivered them. Looking back to the past keeps you from focusing on the positive and from the blessings ahead where the prosperity and even greater things await. Even nations are unable to move forward because they keep looking back. The past must only be used for the sake of history and archiving.
Continually dwelling on the past can hinder us. We become fearful of change and become paralyzed to move forward. Israel’s past had been filled with ups and downs.
The experience the Israelites most constantly talked about was what God had done through Moses. Through Moses, God had subdued the mighty powers of Egypt, led them through the wilderness of Sinai to the verge of Jordan. They witness innumerable miracles and demonstration of God’s power and might. Now in Babylon, God using Isaiah to alert them to the fact that there past was not the future. God has a more glorious future planned for them if they could only embrace it! The forces of Babylon with their high walls and mighty army looked almost invincible! Yet God was looking beyond the seventy years of Babylonians oppression and captivity to the complete restoration of Jerusalem and Judah.
The Israelites seemed to be trapped by looking back and dwelling on their past. God was planning an exciting future for His chosen people. Backward thinking and backward-looking people are still around today! After serving as a pastor in a mainline denominational church, I have observed many members of the church who are mesmerized by their wonderful and glorious history. The rear mirror deserves an occasional glance, but our attention must on the windshield. It’s great to look back a Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. It’s great to call ourselves the Freedom Church. Yet, we must learn the art of looking back without living back. It’s time to embrace your Future! Notice the boldness in Isaiah’s proclamation, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.” If we are going to embrace our future, first we must be willing to forget about things of old. (Isa. 43:18)