Summary: What God is about to do is so great, and so important and so impressive that what He has done in the past pales in comparison. If you persist in holding too tightly to the greatness of what He did in the past, you will miss the greatness of what He is goi
Going with the flow, embracing change
God’s changelessness is a powerful and important doctrine in our faith.
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19 NIV)
God’s supernatural stability gives us security. We trust Him because He will not change His mind about loving us or about His standard of justice or mercy. God’s righteousness 3400 years ago when He described it to Moses will be the same next year when congress sits to make laws.
But God is like the water of a river in many ways. The water of the Mississippi does not fundamentally change, it is H2O full minerals. It flows out of the same sources and has all the power it ever had.
However, the land around it changes. It collects silt from the river and run off from the highlands and creates natural blockages in the river bed that redirects the flow. This creates the Mississippi delta.
A natural dam is created, new land is formed and the power of the river cuts through the lowlands, creates a new way to the sea. The water didn’t change, the land it flows through did.
God does not change, but He is constantly working with people and the contrast in the book of Numbers tells us the nature of change. God doesn’t change, people do. When people change, God creates a new way to work with them. Because God does not change, but the first thing He did in the world’s history that He has never stopped doing is creating. He never changes, but He never stops creating new things.
Isaiah is a prophet in a time of transition. God had seen sinful abuses among His people, so He changed their politics. He split the kingdom and commanded the Northern kingdom to follow Him. They did not. So he changed things again, and sent the Northern Kingdom into exile and promised the Southern Kingdom more of the same if they did not fly right.
Isaiah pointed ahead to a time that exile would be the order of the day. God was changing where people lived and how they worshiped in order to get their attention back on Him. Then He promises that things are going to change again.
This is what the LORD says
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
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:
"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the desert
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.
(Isaiah 43:16-21 NIV)
Look at the ironic switch. God says,
• In order to save My people from their enemies, I created a dry path through the Red Sea
• Now in order to save My people from spiritual thirst, I am going to do the exact opposite, I am going to create a stream in the desert
Our first inclination is to see that first line of what God says and think in extremes. What are the former things? Is God talking to Israel about the Exodus? He identifies Himself as the God who split the Red Sea. Is He saying forget that?
Not exactly. Throughout the Bible, God identifies Himself as the God who brought Israel out of Egypt.
However, He is using the word "forget" here as a figure of speech. He is emphasizing the importance of what He is about to do by putting it in perspective.
What He is saying is this,
What I am about to do is so great, and so important and so impressive that what I have done in the past pales in comparison. If you persist in holding too tightly to the greatness of what I did in the past, you will miss the greatness of what I am going to do in times to come.
Isaiah is telling the people who are about to go into exile that God has marvelous things planned that will make the splitting of the Red Sea look like child’s play.
This is how God works. He is not content to do one great thing and stop. He continues to outdo Himself.
How many ways did God change things, even when it comes to worshiping Him?