Isaiah 43:16-21

Years ago I was pastor of a church in another state. It was small and
struggling. A local congregation offered to “pass along a blessing.”
Someone had given that church a new pipe organ. So they wanted to
donate their very functional electronic organ to us. As a new (and very
green pastor) I couldn’t see any problems here. Until I brought it up
to the leaders. As I remember the conversation it went something like
this. “But, pastor, we can’t get rid of our old organ.” “Why?” asked I.
“Because we can’t remember who donated it to us. So we don’t know who
to ask if we can get rid of it.” The leaders of the church presented me
with a dilemma: how much of the “old” are we to retain?

It’s an age-old question. It is a question with echoes as ancient as Isaiah 43.

The experience of the Red Sea was the pivotal event in the formation of
the people of Israel. Who could imagine that this incident should be
forgotten? Who could imagine that instead one should look to the future?

The prophet summarizes the Red Sea deliverance. “I made a way through
the sea . . . . The chariot and horse . . . will . . . not rise again.”
God’s message is, “I delivered you!” Then comes a profound statement.
“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.
(vs. 18). Not dwell on the past? Not live our lives “on past glory?”
“Not focus on God’s past triumphs?

Instead in the following verse the prophet speaks the word of the Lord.
“Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you
not be aware of it?”

No, God’s message is I am doing greater works. The paths will be
easier. Water will be plentiful; so plentiful even wild animals will
find their thirst quenched. The people will praise and glorify me!

How are we to recognize God’s New Thing? The way of salvation will be
made universally available. Spiritual nourishment will be offered
freely. People will glorify and praise God. If you see these you have
the vision of God’s New Thing!

It reminds me of the words of an itinerant Galilean preacher. (Luke
4:18ff). “The poor will hear God’s Good News! The imprisoned will be
set free! There will be healing for the ill!’ If you see salvation,
freedom, healing, then you can see God’s New Thing! And there will
praise and glory to God!

Sermon brief provided by:  Earl Nichols, Garden
Community Church, Bradenton, FL

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