Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19
“Behold, I am doing a new thing.” New? Instead of ripples of excitement a wave of nostalgia may be sweeping over us. Try going to the store for an old favorite. The dizzying array of new products invites shoppers’ rage. As for the brave new world of communication, press one for depression; stay on the line for insanity. New relationships cannot erase old history. We blend families along with our besetting sins and simply muddle along. Solomon dryly observed, “What has been is what will be… and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). How about in the Son? What if Jesus recalibrated our grasp and elevated our reach? What if we marched gladly in God’s parade of pivotal events rooted in sacred covenant … stretching from the dawn of history to its culmination? What if we strapped on our helmet of salvation and chased after the gain of Christ’s fame to the cheers of the prophets and martyrs of old?
The humble word “behold” serves as Spirit-appointed herald to both the cynic and the cautiously optimistic on this pivotal day of opportunity. It enjoins us to picture a viable path in our wilderness and a sparkling river in our desert. Surely, we can perceive it! (Part 2 of 2)
Comment: “Surely?” We are in a severe drought and in Israel, the river Jordan is turning into a mud puddle, making baptism for pilgrims impossible. “Surely,” climate experts can’t be our first choice to sharpen our “perception.” Leave it to Isaiah – the God expert if you will – to zero in on it. Writing 700 years before Christ’s Incarnation, he introduces the “Holy One of Israel,” a term he uses 25 times. Chapter 43 highlights His predicament and that of His chosen people. Called to be His beloved possession to declare His praise and be His light to the nations, they chose the darkness of idolatry. Chapter 43 contrasts the sure mercies of their Covenant-keeping Creator with their hell-bent proclivity for habitual rebellion. After His baptism, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Then He settled in Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee and preached His first public sermon from Isaiah. “This was to fulfill his prophecy, ‘The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light; and to those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has sprung up’” (9:1-2). Matthew continues, “From that time Jesus began to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (4:16-17). Going from sin’s cesspool to salvation, we go from death to life, and arrive at Paul’s perceptive conclusion, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). Isaiah 43