God is Not Nostalgic

"Nostalgia" by Jon Jaylo, CC BY-SA 3.0
This is what the Lord says— who makes a way in the sea, and a path through surging waters, who brings out the chariot and horse, the army and the mighty one together (they lie down, they do not rise again; they are extinguished, quenched like a wick)—

“Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old.
Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. 
Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers (paths) in the desert. 

The animals of the field will honor Me, jackals and ostriches, because I provide water in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people.  The people I formed for Myself will declare My praise.
-Isaiah 43:16-21 (HCSB)

God is not nostalgic.  He does not think about the past nostalgically.

 Nostalgia is defined as:
A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
Here, in Isaiah, God says,
“Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old.
Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?"
But, in the verses, just previous to this, God identified himself as the deliverer of the people, in the past (history):
This is what the Lord says— who makes a way in the sea, and a path through surging waters, who brings out the chariot and horse, the army and the mighty one together (they lie down, they do not rise again; they are extinguished, quenched like a wick)—
So, we have God identifying himself as the God of the Exodus, but then saying:
"Do not remember, pay no attention to things of old."  
This is a sort of paradox.

But, the next sentence clears up what God is saying:
"Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?"
The point is this:  The past is not the template for the future.  God is always moving forward into the new order.  We stumble, like someone looking backwards, when we have difficulty moving from God's order into God's new order.

The same God who instituted the yearly Passover celebration, where they remembered the Exodus, says, "Do not remember".  Imagine all their Passover remembrances.  They are now told, "don't remember".

This is what J. Alec Motyer writes, in his IVP Isaiah commentary:
Isaiah derives his pictures from the Red Sea event (43:16-18; Ex. 14) and from the wonders of that earlier wilderness journey (19c-20; Ex. 15-17), but he issues an important reminder; the past can teach and illustrate but it must not bind (18-19b).  The Lord always has greater things in store; he is revealed in the past, but he is always more than the past revealed.  (emphasis mine)
We can become so nostalgic for 'the way it was', and so preoccupied with our longing to return, that we miss out on the, "spring forth"(KJV), or "sprout forth" (CEB), that God is doing now:
Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
  • "Look", is a call away from nostalgia. 
  • "Something new", describes it as something not like the old.
  • "Even now it is coming", means it's popping now.
  • "Do you see it?", means you have to crane your neck and train your eyes to see it, and it is visible!
The point is, that if we don't look, we don't see, and if we don't see, we don't experience it or let ourselves be blessed by what God is doing right now, that connects to the future.  God is on the move, but we have to turn to it and see it, for us to know it.

Then, we have the "Streams in the desert" word.
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers (paths) in the desert. 
Imagine that you are in exile and if you are blessed to be freed to go home, there is a big patch of desert that you must cross.  God says that he will make streams in the desert.  He will make a path and provide sustenance.

God is a now God and deals with us "present - future".  God deals with our past sin and helps us deal with past sins against us.  But, God is present with us in the present and points to the future he has for us.

We need to get it that God is not nostalgic, but is "now and future" towards us.  Our pasts are our stories and our history, in which God saved us for today and tomorrow.  We are not in the past today and will not go back to the past in the future.

God is doing something now, related to your future.  We need to look and see what God is doing now.  And what God is doing now is what the future will be built upon, so we ought to pay attention and participate with what God is building now.

God is about to do something new.  I think God has been "about to do something new" since the first time Isaiah preached these words.  And God's new thing(s) have been continually springing, sprouting, and coming forth.  God is never "on a break", but is always working and bringing new things forth.

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