Summary: Year C. Fifth Sunday in Lent April 1st , 2001 Isaiah 43: 16-21
Year C. Fifth Sunday in Lent April 1st , 2001
Lord of the Lake Lutheran Church
Web page http://lordofthelake.org
By The Rev. Jerry Morrissey, Esq., Pastor
Isaiah 43: 16-21
Title: “The, faithful pattern, of a faithful God”
This is a hymn-like prophecy of the return from exile, a promise of salvation. It is cast in terms of a new and better exodus, tantamount to a new creation. Thus the present situation, a return, is interpreted by using the model of an old situation, the Exodus. Comparing the two, the return from exile in Babylon is seen as superior even to the Exodus. Thus God is to be praised even more so because of his great deeds, his loving-kindness. What God has done in the past he continues to do in the present.
In verses sixteen and seventeen, “sea…path…army…extinguished,” The sequence of events given here describe the crossing of the Red Sea at the first exodus. It was a magnificent display of God’s power. He acted then as Israel’s go’el, that is, redeemer. Calling God “redeemer” is based on a custom among the Israelites and many Near eastern cultures, whereby the next of kin, the closest blood relative was considered responsible for the protection of the other and exacting revenge in the event of wrongdoing. Often, the Israelites would consider Yahweh as their next of kin, their redeemer, and their closest blood relative, thanks to the covenant he struck with them. What Yahweh did in overcoming the mighty Egyptians was thought impossible, in fact, unthinkable. The emphasis here, in keeping with Deutero-Isaiah’s perspective, is on God’s action in and over creation. At the same time the exodus was an observable historical event, not only an internal religious experience.
In verse eighteen, Do remember not the former things, or consider the things of old,” “Remember not,” has a wider range of meaning than “forget.” It means here “do not dwell on,” “do not become so stuck in and on the past that you do not or cannot see the present action of God.” In effect, God says, “This release from Babylonian captivity is every bit an exodus, so do not miss it or its meaning.” Surely the Israelites are to remember the past and recite it in their creeds, but they are not to become so focused that they “forget” why they are doing so in the first place. The remembering of the past helps to discern the, faithful pattern, of a faithful God. The remembrance makes that present and enables the people to see the same activity of God going on in the present.
In verse nineteen, “I am about to do a new thing,” What Cyrus, the Persian king, is going to do under God’s prompting and plan is something far greater than the events at the Red Sea of old. Yet, it is entirely consistent with God’s revealed character and modus operandi.
In verse twenty, “in the desert I make a way,” over the wilderness that separates Babylon from Palestine God will make a connecting path, a link, a way out of slavery and into restoration. This is the highway of Isaiah 40: 3, which is to be constructed at God’s command. The first “way” was the “way of the sea” at the exodus. Now, the Creator God will show even greater prowess by making a “way of the land,” through the wilderness, a greater wilderness than the old exodus journey.