Easter is near and it’s meaning reminds me of the scripture from Revelation 21.5 when Jesus says, “See, I am making all things new!” The cross of Jesus Christ accomplishes this task, and his resurrection from death does something different than anything ever done. It does something that no one or nothing else can do, and that is to win back the human heart from it’s wandering in the world’s deserts, from it’s misplaced faith in false idols, and from a road that leads a faith-less life to destruction. Jesus saves! and we are reminded of this through God’s faithfulness to his people throughout time.
16Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, 17who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: 18Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. 19I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 20The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.
In our text for today, God’s faithfulness is proclaimed to a people who would fall into despair. Like those who cried out in the days of the Exodus, so the people of God would be enslaved once again, this time by the Babylonians. They will feel abandoned and alone. For the people, the Exodus is ancient history and only their misery will be at the forefront of their minds. They’ll wonder just how bad things can actually get and their breaking point will come close. This is why God calls Isaiah onto the scene, to speak about these things ahead of time and to give them a chance to prepare for the worst. Isaiah’s ministry is to proclaim God NOW so that the people will have faith THEN, as things go from bad to worse. Isaiah wants the people to remember the God they serve, to call to mind his mighty acts and to understand that he is going to rescue them in their time of need if they’ll look to him. This is the God of Adam and Eve; the God of Noah; the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
Isaiah serves the God of Moses and the Exodus, the God who took his people out of the grip of a slave-driving pharaoh; who led them through the impossible desert places and provided for them through miracles and fulfilled promises. Isaiah knows that with God, all things are possible. But Isaiah also knows something that the people need to hear. He knows that God is moving and stirring. He knows that on the distant horizon is a “new thing” that is about to happen. Isaiah rouses the people and informs them that something is going to overshadow even the mighty works of the Exodus event. God is a God of “new things” and there will be a new way made through the impossible for them.
Put yourself in their shoes: would we not also look back to the Exodus, to the most popular story in the book and wish that God would do it again? Can anything top what Charlton Heston did in the old movie or what The Bible on the History Channel showed us through dazzling special effects? What tops burning bushes, disastrous plagues, and parting mighty waters?! This is where our mind goes, to the moments of revelation and freedom that help us believe again. But Isaiah tells them that God is going to do something new. Yes he is going to free them and yes they will experience a new Exodus as they are freed from Babylon and able to return home to Israel.
You see, the Persians led by King Cyrus defeated the Babylonians, giving the Hebrews a chance to return home and worship their God. They never saw this coming. Never in a 1,000 years did they see their freedom come through an enemy king. Their despair impaired their faith and the shock of these turn of events was almost too good to be true. Their liberator wasn’t anything like Moses and the defeat of their captors wasn’t something that anyone could have guessed. This was indeed a “new thing” and God was using Isaiah to help the people get ready for a time of faith. Their liberation would come and they were to trust God and be ready.
As Easter comes quickly, see this “new thing” that God has done in Jesus Christ. Never did the world believe that it could be forgiven of it’s sin, that it could find peace in this world and the next, and that it could be restored unto God, it’s Creator and Sustainer. All this happened through the life, death, and resurrection of a simple Jewish carpenter. Jesus listened to God, stayed close to God, and loved God’s people all the way to the cross. On that cross we would see a new thing, where the divine would give his life for the faith-ful and for the faith-less, that any that would trust in him would be set free from sin and restored unto God. This is victory in and through Jesus, a new thing and God is doing it still today.
It is a strange and new thing, that God would subject himself to the evils of this world, putting himself at the mercy of the wickedness we know all too well. That God would sacrifice his only Son so that all who believe in him may live. How can THAT not topple the Exodus event? The leading of the people out of Egypt and the parting of the mighty waters was something the world will never forget, but the saving of all humanity through the cross is something that will be celebrated by the faithful throughout all eternity.
And you know, God’s still not done. Jesus has yet to return to make all things new, to complete the work that began on the cross. We await that day, knowing everyday that it draws nearer. Like Isaiah, we must open our eyes and ears, and see and hear this new thing that is happening. Yes, God is doing something new. Each of us has on our own horizon the new things that God is doing. Miraculous things. Ask yourself, “where has God parted waters in my life?” Then look ahead and say, “What new things will God do in my life?” The great encouragement is to keep the faith! Do not let your hearts be troubled! Know that just as God heard the cry of the people enslaved in Egypt and Babylon, he hears your prayers today! See this new thing! Get ready through faith! Know that God is your liberator and that life has meaning beyond your understanding.