“See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” — Isaiah 42:9
God’s words to the prophet Isaiah make it clear; His purpose is not to keep us in the dark about His plans and promises. He announces what He’s going to do. Sometimes the event closely follows the announcement. More often God announces His “new things” years and even centuries in advance.
His greatest announcements centered on the coming Messiah, who would be the Savior of the world. These began in Genesis and continued through the Old Testament to the book of Malachi.
Among the prophecies about Jesus’ birth are some remarkable details, all recorded hundreds of years in advance. Micah gave the exact location of the Messiah’s birthplace:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come one who who be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (5:2)
Isaiah foretold the miraculous circumstances of the Messiah’s conception: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (7:14)
Isaiah goes on in chapter 9 to give the location of the major part of Jesus’ ministry, and what He will come to accomplish: In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan — The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne over his kingdom. Establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (9:1-2, 6-7)
God’s purpose is to bring His people out of the darkness and into the light. Jesus is the light of the world; when we walk by His light, we can see the way and the truth that gives real life.
As we move farther away from Jesus, perhaps running ahead or lagging behind, we have less light. If we turn our heads to look at other things along the way, we run into dark patches. We have the opportunity to walk in the full light of Christ, but we often opt for a pretty low wattage. We may find ourselves paying more attention to our former way of life or how the rest of the world lives. Before we know it, the path is less and less visible, and we seem to be in a spiritual desert rather than a place of abundance.
God has an announcement for us: “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 desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isa. 43:18-19)
May this Christmas mark the birth of a new spiritual awakening, a new dawn of walking in the light, for each one of us. May the new things that God has planned for us spring up in our lives in the coming year.