What I’m Thinking: New Old Things

When the prophet announced that God would restore the exiles of Israel to their homes, he recalled the old story of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt – in a new way.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the forty-third chapter of Isaiah (Isaiah 43:16-21). Isaiah is an interesting composite of a book. A few of its chapters were, in fact, lifted in their entirety from Second Kings. This section concerns the people of Israel during their exile in Babylon.

The prophet announced that God would restore them to their former homes, that Babylon, the empire that had conquered them, would be humbled, and that they would be able to return to Jerusalem. Now the metaphor that the prophet used was a reference to that most famous deliverance of the people, that is, their release from slavery in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea with the waters divided and the people walking upon dry ground.

But now, said the prophet, God would do a new thing. Instead of dry ground in the sea, there would be rivers in the desert.

Well, to be honest, that was a metaphor, because there are no accounts of the return to Jerusalem and to the former homes of the Israelites that describe miraculous rivers flowing through the desert that lay between Babylon and Jerusalem. It is true, however, that God echoed an old thing – the release from slavery – with a new thing – the release from exile.

And that is, I think, a key to understanding our relationship with God. Behold, God may do a new thing, but the new thing will have a key similarity to the old things, and that is God’s regard for the welfare of people. Slavery needed to end. Exile needed to end. Hopelessness and despair needed to end. Fear of death needed to end.

God keeps on doing new things. God keeps on saying new things. But in each of these, God is working in us and with us and around us for our welfare, out of God’s surpassing and indescribable eternal love.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on March 28, 2022

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1 Comment

  1. by Janet

    On March 28, 2022

    In the passage from Isaiah, the people, facing a series of crises, needed the prophet’s message of
    hope. I, too, would have found the prophet’s words comforting.
    Today, we are facing a series of crises. i am comforted by hope and yes, God’s eternal love.

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