“This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters…Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” – Isaiah 43:16-18
Written by Rev. Brandon Durán
I half-jokingly tell my friends, “If you’re telling me a story that begins with, ‘Do you remember when…’ then be prepared for disappointment.” I have a terrible memory. I am sure my lack of memory is a frustration for my family. It’s often frustrating for me. But sometimes, the inability to remember enables me to let go of things I don’t need to hold on to.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God tells the people to forget. This is a radical 180˚ departure from the typical encouragement of the Bible.
“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness…” —Deuteronomy 8:2
“Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth” —1 Chronicles 16:12
“Remember what God has done for you” —Psalm 143:4
The people are explicitly told to do the one thing they had always been told not to do. They were called to forget what God had done in the past. They were called to forget the past in order that they might be able to see the future that was beginning right before them.
“Forget the former things… See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
It is important to acknowledge that the past was not horrendous. God is not telling them to forget about a mistake. God was calling on them to forget the miraculous. Why?
Focusing on the past limited their ability to see the present.
God was doing a new thing. God was delivering them in a new way. The prophet Isaiah announces that God’s deliverance wasn’t going to come through the parting of the waters, but through the life and death of the suffering servant (“by his wounds we are healed”).
Our desire to have life like it was before and our longing for the golden days can prevent us from fully seeing and understanding the now. It is good to give God thanks for the past, but it must not prevent us from seeing the present. God has done great things in the past through Central Union Church, but what God has in store need not be a rerun, rehash, or reboot. God will do a new thing through Central Union Church, will we have the heart to perceive it?