Summary: What new thing did God do for Israel? What new thing does God do for us?
Isaiah 43:18-25: “I AM DOING A NEW THING”
We like new things, don’t we? There’s always something new, something different, something better, than what we have right now. A new phone. A new computer. New clothes. There’s always new technology, new styles.
Right now, one of the best places to find new things is the Chicago Auto Show. There you will see all kinds of new styles, new technologies on display. For example, there is the Dodge Ram SRT-10. This truck has a 505 horsepower, 8.3 liter, V-10 engine. And yet, it has the look of a sports car, the Dodge Viper, with a wing attached to the pickup bed. It contains a 508 watt stereo system. Lots of new technology, new things in that truck.
Or how about the Studebaker XUV? An XUV, as you know, is a step up from an SUV. The Extreme Utility Vehicle – the XUV - resembles a Hummer, but it’s supposed to run more smoothly, get better gas mileage. And it’s supposed to have all kinds of new bells and whistles.
Lots of new things! New technologies! New styles! This morning, in the book of Isaiah, God says, “I am doing a new thing!” What is this new thing that God is doing? How can anything related to Christianity be a new thing? I thought Christianity was an old thing – a religion that has been around for almost 2000 years – something from the past, something becoming more and more obsolete. What does God mean, when he says, “I am doing a new thing”? And what does this have to do with Jesus Christ, the focus of our worship service this morning? May God bless you as you focus on his holy Word, as you consider this wonderful new thing that God is doing for you.
In verse 18, God says, “Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past.” Do you know the setting of these words? These words were originally meant to be words of comfort for people in captivity. God’s chosen people were going to be overrun by a foreign nation called Babylon. The Jews would be taken far away from their homeland. There they would reminisce about the “old days:” “Remember when God rescued us from Egypt? Remember when God parted the Red Sea and defeated all the nations that stood in our way? He did all that for us. Those were the days!”
But God says, “Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” God was telling the people, that while he did some amazing things for them in the past, they haven’t seen anything yet. He was going to rescue them again: “I am making a way in the desert, and streams in the wasteland.” God’s people were trapped in country that was surrounded by one of the most barren, most deadly deserts in the world. Even if they escaped from their captors, they would never make it through the desert. But God was going to do the impossible – he was going to set up a highway for them to walk on. He was going to provide water for them as they journeyed back to the promised land: “The wild animals honor me, and 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.” Even the wild animals would notice all the good things God was doing for his people. Not only would those animals praise God, but the people of Israel would praise God too, for all the amazing new things God was planning to do for his people.
This is the “new thing” that God eventually did do for the Jews during that time in history. They were eventually released from captivity. They eventually survived that difficult trip through the desert, and returned to their homeland. What does this have to do with Christ? Can you see Christ in these words I have read to you this morning? God says, “I am making a way in the desert.” Jesus says, “I am The Way, the truth, and the life.” God says, “I am making streams in the wasteland.” Jesus says, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”
Just as God was doing a new thing for Israel, rescuing them, so also right now, God is doing a new thing for you right now – he’s rescuing you, rescuing you from this world, which is passing away. “Do you not perceive it?” God asks you this morning.
There are so many religions today, and they are obsolete, they don’t work, they don’t get you to heaven. “I will try to be good and earn my way to heaven” – a very common approach to religion today. But it doesn’t work, because you can never be good enough. “I will trust in myself. I will try hard and be everything God wants me to be and earn his favor!” But it doesn’t work, because God wants you to be perfect! That sort of religion is obsolete, it’s a dead end. Deep down you know it, and God knows it too. And that’s why God says to you this morning: “I am doing a new thing!” God is creating a new way for you to get to heaven, a new way for you to be right with God, a new way for you to have the sure hope of eternal life. And that new way is Jesus Christ.