Isaiah 43 is a deep passage. There’s a lot going on, and a lot of quotable verses come from it, including the ones I want to focus on today – Isaiah 43:18-19:
Save as your phone wallpaper this week as a reminder that God is always doing something new!
What’s happening in Isaiah, generally?
First, let’s take a look at the context – always a good place to start. The book of Isaiah records the prophecies of Isaiah, who lived around the time when Israel fell to the Assyrians. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah are prophecies and events recorded during Isaiah’s lifetime (~700 B.C.), regarding the Assyrian invasion that’s about to come and the events that occur once it’s happened. This section is mostly about judgment for Israel’s and other nations’ sins.
Chapters 40-66, which is the context for our passage today, are generally thought to be prophecies fulfilled around 500 B.C. during the Babylonian exile, PLUS messages of hope and comfort for the faithful remnant of Jews dispersed after the exile. Lots of hinting at Jesus Christ as the Messiah in this section. But we’ll cover that some other time.
Fun fact: “Isaiah is the most cited prophetic book in the New Testament and rabbinic literature.” (Moody Bible Commentary, 2014, pg. 1009)
What’s happening in Chapter 43, specifically?
So let’s look at Chapter 43. I’ll let you take a minute to read through it yourself. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Okay, read it? Great! Now, the purpose of this chapter is to give a message of comfort and assurance to the remnant of Israel that survives and returns from the exile. God will protect His people. We see callbacks to God’s provision for the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt (v. 2, 16-17). Then we get to our verses for today:
18 “Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing 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.
The point of these verses is to not dwell on the past (AKA the Exodus and Exile), but to look at what God is doing now and what He will do!
It’s easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that the Bible is our own little Magic 8 ball – that each and every verse holds some personal application. Yes, the Bible is alive (Hebrews 4:12) and the Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds of Jesus’ words (John 14:26), BUT the Bible isn’t all about us.
No – it’s about who God is and what He has done.
Critical Thinking / Application
With that perspective in mind, here are some questions about this passage to get you thinking:
- What do today’s verses reveal about God’s character?
- …about God’s actions/what He has done?
- What would the original audience (Jews returning from exile) think/feel about these words? Would they take on a different meaning for them than they do for us?
- What do you think “it springs forth” means? What is the “it” referring to?
- What’s going on with the imagery in this chapter? Do you think it’s a physical representation of things to come? Symbolic? If symbolic, symbolic of what?
- Look at verses 22-28. This is God’s response to sin and disobedience. What does this section tell you about God’s nature?
I’m interested to hear your answers to these questions! Leave a comment below to join the conversation.
I’m praying for you this week! Leave me a message on the contact page or as a comment below if I can pray for you in specific ways. See you on Wednesday for more gardening goodness.
Wednesday: Nitty Gritty – How to Prune
Next Sunday: Good Soil