After recounting some of the history of Israel’s relationship with God in Isaiah 43, God says: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland…because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” (Isaiah 43:18-21, NIV)
Water plays an important role in Holy Scripture. The account of creation. The flood. The parting of the Red Sea. Jesus’s baptism. The baptism of the disciples and early followers of Jesus. Our own baptism. The spiritual water from Christ Jesus that quenches our spiritual thirst. Water often marks moving from the past to something new. God emphasizes this in Isaiah 43 when he says not to dwell on the past, because he is doing something new–providing a way in the wilderness, a wasteland, with streams of water; giving drink to his chosen people.
Of course, we have a past. Like Israel, some of it good, some of it not so good, some of it just plain bad. But we shouldn’t dwell on the past. We should perceive something new.
Paul wrote about something new in II Corinthians 5:17-24: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone; the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Now that’s a passage of scripture that continues to sound very new. It sounds particularly and powerfully new for the time in which we live. We can be part of something new God is still doing. We can be ambassadors of reconciliation–something needed the world over. If we are Christ’s ambassadors of reconciliation, Paul says that we become “the righteousness of God.” Think about that!
And the water?
“Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24)