I was reading Isaiah recently, and I found something that definitely caught my attention and caused me to really get still and seek the Lord for clarification and understanding.
I read Isaiah 43:18 & 19, which says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!...”
In this passage, I was saying to myself, “Yes! This is so good!” This passage calls to mind Romans 8:38, which is where Paul wrote that he was convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God. But there is something specifically omitted from the list in this verse: right in the middle of the verse it says, “…neither the present nor the future…”, and right there Paul specifically omitted our past because that is the one thing the enemy can use to separate us from God’s love. Granted, Jesus paid for our pasts, so in truth, even our past can’t separate us from God’s love. Not to mention Paul wrote in Colossians 1:21, we are only alienated from God in our minds, not in reality. This is why I got excited when I was reading Isaiah 43. God is telling us to forget the past, to focus on what God is doing NOW.
I kept reading, and found myself in Isaiah 46. The part that caught my attention and forced me to seek wisdom is found in 46:9, “Remember the former things, those of long ago…” Wait, I thought He said we SHOULD forget them, and now He is saying we SHOULD NOT forget them? I literally turned 2 pages in my bible, and now God is contradicting Himself? Which is it?? Should I forget or not forget? What had just been a moment of joy and excitement had quickly turned into a moment of confusion.
I definitely felt shaken inside. I remembered Hebrews 12:27, which basically says everything that can be shaken will be shaken so that only that which can’t be shaken will remain. I felt a bit off center, as if I didn’t know whether I should stand up or sit down. That is when I decided to re-read the 2 chapters and gain better understanding through context.
Chapter 43, God is talking to Israel, telling them that He is not going to repeat Himself when it comes to their captivity. He is telling Israel that they will go into Babylon as slaves, but that He won’t rescue them as He did before. He is doing something different this time because when He provided last time, they didn’t honor Him and instead they sinned against Him. So He is telling them to forget the past, because He is going to do something new.
Chapter 46, God is talking to Israel that is captive in Babylon, telling them that He will carry them, sustain them, and rescue them. It is here God cries out to His children, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” He is referring to the prophecies of Messiah. From the very beginning, God had been telling His people about a coming Messiah who would change everything, set them free, and save the world from sin. The very first word in the bible (in Hebrew) is bereshit. When you read it out from letter to letter in Hebrew, it reads, “The Son of the house of God will be destroyed by His own hand on a cross.” That is the word, “In the beginning…” and right here in Isaiah 46:9, God is telling His children to remember this fact. He is calling His children to realize that He is doing something new. He is not going to save His children the way He did in Egypt, but instead He is going to save them by sending Jesus to die on the cross and TRULY set us all free. Complete freedom. Jesus even said He came to set us truly free.
In gaining understanding through the context, I was at peace. When I remembered God did a truly new thing when Jesus came helped me to understand everything, and that caused me to be filled with peace. I spent the next few minutes just reflecting on the peace Jesus promised, and how much my life has changed over the years as I have learned more and more from Him. God didn’t just remove a government that oppressed His children, or even rescue them from a tyrant, when He sent Jesus. God changed everything. Before Jesus, sin had complete say/authority over everyone. Since Jesus, grace overwhelms sin. The Law of Sin and Death has been replaced with the Law of Spirit and Life (Romans 8:2). God blessed us with spiritual freedom, and you and I have the ability to walk in that freedom. Rust can’t destroy it, nothing can corrupt it, and even my past has no voice to steal it.
All of this is critical for us to understand. Satan will always remind you of your past… of what you did wrong. The wild thing is God has done something about your past: He became it. “He who had no sin became sin so that you might become the righteousness of God.” So yes, forget the former things- the things you did wrong, the things you regret. And yes, don’t forget the former things- that Jesus paid for the things you did wrong, the things you regret.
In short, remember this: “Remember what God did for you, not what you’ve done.” Be blessed…
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