5 December 2013Isaiah 43:14-28
“Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob” (v. 22)
Verse 22 brings us to attention and is very apt in the busy-ness of this time of year. Advent is a time of waiting and a time for preparation. But in all our activity we can too easily lose sight of what we are preparing for - Christmas - a celebration of the coming of the Christ child. Our relationship with God is put on hold in the midst of the Christmas preparations.
Quite why the Israelites did not call upon God is not evident from this passage. It could have been out of forgetfulness, it could have been out of guilt and shame due to sinful behaviour. It is not clear.
Yet God remembers them. And at the beginning of today's passage people are invited to remember God and what God has done for them. In verse 16, The example given is the Exodus and specifically God parting the Red Sea and allowing the Israelites to escape from their Egyptian slavemasters.
God invites us to remember but then in verse 18 says exactly the opposite: "Do not remember the former things". Why? Because "I am about to do a new thing" (v. 19).
Just imagine what the original recipients of these words might have felt. The Exodus was something that defined and united the Jewish people, that indicated that they were God's chosen people. But now God is telling them that they 'ain't seen nothing yet".
To try and suggest the magnitude of what will happen, Isaiah continues with the imagery of water, but reverses the idea. Instead of the water disappearing for the Red Sea to allow the people to cross, now water will appear in a dry land. Instead of the return of the water to drown the Egyptian army, the water will bring life to the wilderness and quench the thirst of the wild animals there. Not just that - it will be "drink to my chosen people" (v. 20). All in all it points to a dramatic change.
The second half of today's passage is also one of contrasts from the disobedience of people (verses 22-24) to the forgiving nature of God (verse 25), in spite of the evident guilt of the people (verses 26-28).
And the one who will do this is Jesus. How can we possibly forget?
- If you are a person for whom life is hectic in December (or at other points), find some time even a few moments for God. You can try and use some trigger points as a reminder or an opportunity - such as waiting for the kettle to boil, queuing in the supermarket, doing the washing up.
- God reveals a dramatic change in the way that God will interact with people. How has God worked in your life? Dramatic or subtly? And what has the effect been - minor or major?
- God "give[s] drink to my chosen people". What does the refreshing God-given water of life mean to you? And how might you describe it to others?