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Isaiah 43:18-19 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 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.
History Behind These Verses
Isaiah is a prophet. A prophet is a person who is given directions or wisdom directly from God to share with a specific group of people. Isaiah was called by God to be a messenger to the Israelites. He spent the majority of his adult life doing just this. When these verses were spoken by Isaiah, a large portion of God’s children were being held captive for the second time. Years earlier the Israelites were held as slaves in Egypt, and now they were in bondage in Babylon.
Isaiah was sent to speak hope to God’s people. He was sent to remind the Israelites of a few very important things. First, the children of God were to remember how God had earlier rescued them from their captivity in Egypt. Secondly, Isaiah was sent to warn the Israelites to not dwell on their past. These two instructions: to remember, and then do not dwell seem kind of contradictory. Let’s take a couple of minutes to read some of the earlier verses found in Isaiah 43 so that we can get a clear picture of the exact message from God’s prophet. You will notice in verses 16-17 that Isaiah is quoting events which happened years earlier. Verses 16-17 state some of the amazing events which took place during the Israelites’ escape from Egypt.
Isaiah 43:14-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I will send to Babylon,
And bring them all down as fugitives—
The Chaldeans, who rejoice in their ships.
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King.”
16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse,
The army and the power
(They shall lie down together, they shall not rise;
They are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick):
So, why is Isaiah first reminding the Israelites about their past to only later tell them to not remember it? After researching these verses, I discovered two reasons for this “double talk”: first, the Israelites were allowed to be held captive both times as a direct consequence from the sins they were committing. God has forgiven them , and they must now forgive themselves and move forward in their relationship with God. God is wanting them to not dwell on their past sins.
Secondly, the Israelites should remember the great and miraculous acts God has done for them in their past. Although all of these acts of were incredible and definitely worth remembering, God does not want them to only dwell on them. Doing so could limit His children’s future expectations. The Israelites had witnessed some incredibly amazing things during their release from Egypt. These miracles should not be forgotten, but the Israelites need to realize that these past miracles are nothing compared to the miracles still to come. God is wanting the Israelites to look to their future with new and open eyes! He wants them to realize that they are now free from their past sins! He desires for them to look with great anticipation to their future lives with HIM!
River: a large natural stream of water flowing in a channel to the sea, a lake, or another such stream.
Connection To Us
Connections and thoughts on the words desert and rivers (water) :
A desert represents death. It is a barren place where nothing thrives or grows. An important fact to note is that death exists OUTSIDE of the presence of God.
Water represents LIFE. We have all grown up knowing the importance of water to all living things. A person’s physical body can not live without water. More importantly, a person’s spiritual self can not live without water either! There is a huge connection in scripture between Jesus and water. On several occasions Jesus is actually called the “Living Water.”
Now, let’s look at the definition for rivers again: a large natural stream of water flowing in a channel to the sea, a lake, or another such stream. A river is a naturally created waterway that connects and moves things into a LARGER body of water.
All throughout the Bible God used bodies of water as instruments in His miracles. For the Israelites verse 19 was a reminder to them of their escape from Egypt. As they were fleeing from their enemies, the Lord came to their aid. He caused the Red Sea to actually split in two! Doing this allowed His children to cross to the other side safely away from their foes! God used WATER to move His children out of captivity and closer to HIM!
To us today, God is still using bodies of waters in His miracles. These “rivers” are just more symbolic bodies of water. Even though these rivers may not actually contain water (H2O) , they definitely are rivers. They are pathways created by our Heavenly Father to move us closer to the larger life source (HIM)!!!!
Reflecting on all of this helps me see God’s LOVE in this verse! He TRULY wants us to come close to HIM! He is calling to each and every one of us to come nearer to Him.
Are you taking advantage of the “rivers” that God has created for you?
Being a part of our online study group is one river that God has created for me! Reading the comments and insights of others as we study together moves me closer to my Heavenly Father on a daily basis. I feel SO BLESSED that God has created that group for me!
What are some rivers in your life?