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A New Year: Moving forward with a Future-making God
When we consider the Old and New Testament scriptures which discuss the attributes of God (e.g., a God who is loving, forgiving and merciful), we quickly arrive at the conclusion that God is not simply past-oriented. God is also future-making. The idea that God cares about our past and future relationships is succinctly summarized in a passage of scripture which concerns, God, Isaiah and the people of Israel. In Isaiah 43:16-17, God, through the prophet Isaiah, describes God’s faithfulness to the nation of Israel by retelling a portion of the Exodus story. Through God’s love, the people of Israel were freed from the grips of a horrific slavery, and the army of Pharaoh, which was in pursuit of them, drowned in the sea. In short, God was reminding the people of God’s love for them in the past. We too ought to take the time to remember how a providential God has provided for us in the past.
However, in an abrupt change of course, God tells the people through the prophet Isaiah: “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert (Isaiah 43:18-19).” In this particular passage, God is telling the people of Israel that God’s enduring love for them is not limited to their past. It is necessarily concerned with their future. The idea that God still loves them and remains concerned about them in spite of their imperfections is a profound statement about God’s character. It is also inspiriting to know that the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow is intimately concerned about our future. As this New Year begins, we should look forward to seeing God’s presence and influence, helping and healing, as our future unfolds with God.
As Isaiah brings the good news about God’s abiding presence in the future, he also encourages the people of Israel to have a holistic relationship with God. For example, in Isaiah 43:23-24, God says: …you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses. , even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
Indeed, a forgiving God wants a holistic relationship with us in the New Year. God doesn’t simply want to know about our problems in New Year, God also wants to know about our joys, our thankfulness and our plans for the future. Thank God that we serve a God who is not only concerned with our past, but also concerned about the blessed future that awaits us.