God is Making A New Way

God is Making A New Way

Daily Reading: (Isaiah 43:18-19):

“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.”

 

“Do not call to your mind (zakar) the former things.” If you read this verse out of context- if you put this awesome verse up as a fridge magnet you would think that God is telling us to forget about our past mistakes.

Actually, what God is saying is that you might have thought that what I did in the past was awesome, you haven’t seen anything yet. I have something even better coming. I want you ready to receive it. If you keep rehashing the Old and living in the past (even dwelling on the good things) you will miss the New better thing I am about to do (Isaiah 43:18-19).

So great and wonderful shall be God‘s future for Israel, that what He has done, as great as that was in your past, it shall be comparatively forgotten by how awesome this new thing is that I am doing.

The verses before our text gives us the insight that God is reminding them of the awesome things He did in their past, yet He doesn’t want them to dwell there because the New thing will be so much better.

Everything God mentioned is wonderful about the past, yet God doesn’t want the Israelites to dwell on those past good things because those things were not the main thing, they were pointing to what God was preparing to do through Jesus (Isaiah 43:16-17). God brought Israel out of Egypt, and through the Red sea, drowning Pharaoh’s army in it. Though these things were worthy to be remembered with thankfulness and praise, and to the glory of God, and for the encouragement of faith, yet in comparison of the spiritual and eternal redemption by Christ that was coming everything else pales in comparison. We are talking physical salvation versus spiritual salvation. Temporary extension of life versus everlasting life. The point of us not calling to our mind and dwelling on our past is done as we remember the new thing Jesus has done (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Isaiah says the new thing I am doing is I am sending my Son. Now “it springs up” the Hebrew word also means to bud. One of Messiah’s names in Zechariah 3:8 is the Branch. The new thing, the New Covenant would come about and be enacted with the death of Jesus who defeated sin and death for all who believe. What Jesus did is the next part of the verse- “I am making a way” in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Only Jesus, the New thing God brought forth, the bud (Zechariah 3:8) that springs up will be able to bring God’s people into the Promised Land (Isaiah 43:19).

For the Israelites, striking the rock represents the crucifixion of Christ and shows that Christ is the supplier of all of our needs, pointing us to the New and better thing God was preparing to do. The water that flowed represented all we need in life, health, prosperity, relationships. All we need flows from Jesus our Rock.

In Numbers 20, when God told Moses to speak to the Rock, he struck it instead. Christ was struck once for all sin, as His one sacrifice was sufficient for our needs. God desires that we now speak to the exalted Rock for our needs to be met (Numbers 20:8). As a child of God there is no need to wonder if God wants to bless you. He has forever settled that at the cross.  The Rock has been struck. The waters of God’s salvation blessings are flowing. Because of these truths we can expect to blessed, redeemed, and healed. When you are faced with a problem, what should your response be? Speak to the Rock of your salvation. Agree with God’s Word and what it says about you and your situation.

 

 

#Faithful Thomas

Daily Reading: (John 20:24-29):

“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

There is a scene in John 20:24-29 which caused many pastors to brand Thomas the disciple with a terrible nickname, “doubting Thomas”. This is unacceptable. Can you imagine if you had a bad moment in your life and throughout centuries you are referred to by the bad decision you made. When we get to heaven, we are not ever going to hear Thomas referred to as doubting Thomas. So, it is my goal for this stigma to change for this man as we see what grace does to a person’s life. We are not letting a moment in time define Thomas’ life anymore because a doubter would not be found in the Upper Room in Acts 1:13 waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus changed him forever.

The name Thomas comes from the Aramaic word te’oma which means “twin.” John uses the Greek equivalent, didymus, three times (John 11:16; 20:24; 21:2). It is uncertain whose twin Thomas was, or even if it was one of the other disciples, as some have speculated. He is linked with Matthew in Matthew 10:3 and with Philip in Acts 1:13. However, I think this might just be a close friendship who shared similar interests or joint responsibilities with them.

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” At this point in his life Thomas has not yet come to faith in who Jesus is- the Resurrection and the Life. That is key because when we say, “doubting Thomas” that would be a reference to who he was before his belief in Jesus.  He is not going to be doubting Thomas after he encounters the Resurrected Savior. So, what led to Thomas’ belief was an encounter with the Resurrected Savior (John 20:28). 

In John 11-

Lazarus became ill, Jesus expressed his intention to his disciples of returning to Judea. Some of the disciples’ response to that was, “But Rabbi, a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” First, of all Jesus is not going to die by stoning- don’t worry about that. If you believe Jesus is the Messiah, then the prophets foretold His death wouldn’t be by stoning.

Thomas is the only one who says, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16). At this point, Thomas has not experienced the resurrection power of Jesus and thinks that death might be the outcome. Then Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead…

Next time Thomas is mentioned is at Jesus’ last Passover service. It is Thomas who is not afraid to show his ignorance, he asked, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). He is wrestling with the path of life. Thomas’ question reveals him to be a seeker of truth and understanding. His naturally cautious temperament did not close his mind to further knowledge. “We don’t know the way.”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me- we are given the connection with life is Jesus. You saw me raise Lazarus, you want to know how to get to heaven, it is the same way to life, it is the same way to the truth you seek – I am the way, I am the truth, I am the Life Thomas.

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:26-27).

“Do not be faithless, but (pistos)” (John 20:27)

  1. one who trusts in God’s promises: one who is convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead
  2. one who has become convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and author of salvation (John 20:27).

What we might forget is Thomas didn’t say to Jesus unless I do A,B, and C then I will believe. Jesus appears and says go ahead and do the things you said you would need in order to believe.

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29 NKJV)

The point is the love of Christ sought out the stubborn Thomas and it was this encounter where Thomas saw the tangible love of God, the nail pierced hands for his sin, where He is overcome and declares I finally get it… “My Lord and my God!”