This is late on posting up but Stuart sent me this after last months session. Its a great little read and was really helpful to me personally. Love it
“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.”
These are familiar verses but we miss the shock that these words would have had on the ears of the first hearers. Isaiah prophesies that God is going to bring about a new exodus for the people of God. In the first exodus he brought them out of slavery in Egypt, now he is going to bring them back from exile and captivity in Babylon.
Whether he is right or wrong about that, the suggestion that the people should forget the former things would have been heard as almost blasphemous. Israel’s whole history and understanding of who they were was based on this story which he reminds them of in verses 16 and 17. Sadly however although the story of Israel as a nation began with the Exodus it had come to a tragic end with the Babylonian exile. Israel had been robbed of its land, its monarchy and its temple.
Now they were a people struggling with their very identity. They were experiencing first-hand what it was like to live in a foreign land with foreign God’s. They were truly secular. But now a prophet is saying take your eyes off the past because it won’t help you to see what God is doing now. This is a new thing and no one could have foreseen it. He goes on to say, even more shocking, that God is going to anoint a foreign unbeliever called Cyrus who will make it all happen. But the good news was that through this new thing Israel’s God would become the God of the nations.
Many are struggling at this moment in our own history to make sense of what God is doing or not doing. Isaiah’s words are important for us – ‘forget the former things; do not dwell on the past’. We have to let go even the most cherished stories and experiences in our history in order to perceive what is springing up and who God is using to bring about his eternal purposes.