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Isaiah 43:18-19 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.
History Behind These Verses
Isaiah is a prophet. A prophet is a person who is given directions or wisdom directly from God to share with a specific group of people. Isaiah was called by God to be a messenger to the Israelites. He spent the majority of his adult life doing just this. When these verses were spoken by Isaiah, a large portion of God's children were being held captive for the second time. Years earlier the Israelites were held as slaves in Egypt, and now they were in bondage in Babylon.
Isaiah was sent to speak hope to God's people. He was sent to remind the Israelites of a few very important things. First, the children of God were to remember how God had earlier rescued them from their captivity in Egypt. Secondly, Isaiah was sent to warn the Israelites to not dwell on their past. These two instructions: to remember, and then do not dwell seem kind of contradictory. Let's take a couple of minutes to read some of the earlier verses found in Isaiah 43 so that we can get a clear picture of the exact message from God's prophet. You will notice in verses 16-17 that Isaiah is quoting events which happened years earlier. Verses 16-17 state some of the amazing events which took place during the Israelites' escape from Egypt.
Isaiah 43:14-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “For your sake I will send to Babylon, And bring them all down as fugitives— The Chaldeans, who rejoice in their ships. 15 I am the Lord, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.”
16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea And a path through the mighty waters, 17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse, The army and the power (They shall lie down together, they shall not rise; They are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick):
So, why is Isaiah first reminding the Israelites about their past to only later tell them to not remember it? After researching these verses, I discovered two reasons for this "double talk": first, the Israelites were allowed to be held captive both times as a direct consequence from the sins they were committing. God has forgiven them , and they must now forgive themselves and move forward in their relationship with God. God is wanting them to not dwell on their past sins.
Secondly, the Israelites should remember the great and miraculous acts God has done for them in their past. Although all of these acts of were incredible and definitely worth remembering, God does not want them to only dwell on them. Doing so could limit His children's future expectations. The Israelites had witnessed some incredibly amazing things during their release from Egypt. These miracles should not be forgotten, but the Israelites need to realize that these past miracles are nothing compared to the miracles still to come. God is wanting the Israelites to look to their future with new and open eyes! He wants them to realize that they are now free from their past sins! He desires for them to look with great anticipation to their future lives with HIM!
: to have or keep an image or idea in your mind of (something or someone from the past) : to think of (something or someone from the past) again
: to cause (something) to come back into your mind