“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:18-19
I love this passage, the context of the chapter is God working on behalf of the Israelites to restore them and then He gives this amazing promise to the people, and to us. Let’s look at these two verses a piece at a time...
He begins with "do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old." Paul said something similar to the church in Philippi when he wrote, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Why does God want us to forget the past? Often times our past is part of who we are, we have good memories and bad memories, wonderful experiences, and traumatic experiences. Some things we want to remember, some things we long to forget. So is God telling us to have a bad memory. No, I believe He is telling us that our past is not to define us. For the Israelites this meant forgetting their failures, their betrayals, and all they had done in walking away from God. I believe it means the same thing for us. We all have a past, we all have things we wish we hadn’t done. Each of us has sins and failures we would like to leave behind us. The good news is that in Jesus Christ we can do just that. It does not mean our past did not happen. It does mean we don’t have to let our past define who we are. Instead, we find our identity in Christ.
The passage goes on to say “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” We are given a similar promise of God making all things new in Revelation 21:5. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” When we come to Jesus for salvation, we have His promise that the old us will pass away and we will become new in Christ. This speaks of our identity that we talked about a moment ago. We can continue to let our past define us, or we can have a Holy Spirit shift and let God define us in Christ. Our past may say we are sinners, we are failures, we let people down, we lied, we cheated, we gave in to addictions, and so much more. But God tells a different story of our lives.
God tells us we are His children, adopted into His family, forgiven of our past, given purpose for our future, and given eternal life in Christ. I don’t know about you, but I know which version of my life I want to live. I want God to do this new thing, I want His love, power, and grace to make a road in the wilderness and streams in the desert. I want God to write my story, and I want to live the purpose He has given me by the truth of His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit.
What do you want? Do you want your past to define you? Or do you want God to define you as His new creation in Christ? I think the choice is simple, but in order to live out our identity in Christ we have to let go of the past. I don’t want to diminish anything that has happened to you, maybe you’ve had terrible experiences of trauma or abuse or something else. I am not telling you to pretend these things didn’t happen to you. I am telling you God wants you to find your new life in Him, your new identity in Him, and your future in Him. In order to do that you have to forgive, and let God set you free from your past and lead you into the new life He has for you in Christ. I hope we can all do that!
Image Borrowed from: TeamZigZag