17Look! I’m creating a new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will no longer be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
18Rejoice! Be delighted forever
At what I’m creating–
Jerusalem a delight,
It’s people as a joy. — Isaiah 65:17-18
Consider the timing of this passage. There is debate about precisely when this passage was written, but there is no debate about who is being addressed. This is for the exiles and those who returned early to Jerusalem and were trying to rebuild. There is also a future element. God’s creative act in bringing the exiles home is to be reflected in the coming Messianic kingdom.
What I’m looking at today applies just as well to either audience, as well as to present audiences everywhere. God is a God of redemption and recreation, and that is constant. We are often very narrow and want to tie things to just one point in time, when God instead is unfolding his story through many individual stories. Think of God’s story as a series, not a single production. It’s all tied together, but you if you missed episode 12, for example, episode 13 won’t make nearly as much sense. In episode 12, the producer (God) is setting up things that will happen next.
There’s a universal spiritual lesson here, I think. The most dangerous thing we can do as Christians is to look back. God is moving us forward. At the same time, the most dangerous thing we can do as Christians is to forget the past. We need to keep in mind how God has led us. You know, it’s also pretty dangerous to get stuck just looking at our present!
So where can we look? Well, we can look at our past, present, and future. Our verse today tells us that we won’t remember the past. But I could refer you to Deuteronomy 32:7 or the whole of Psalm 78 where you’ll be told to remember the past.
So what should you do? It’s a matter of viewpoint. God uses small things to illustrate great things, so let’s just look back at our week. How many mistakes did you make? (Don’t stop there!) What did you accomplish? Given another week, what will you be able to accomplish?
A God’s eye view speaks hope, redemption, and recreation. When we look back on the week, we see our mistakes, but we see them as stepping stones to better things. We see our accomplishments, and we praise God for them. We look at our future, and we realize that God is planning something new (Isaiah 43:19).
The human view feels guilt for the mistakes, no hope for redemption and fear for the future. That’s why it is both dangerous and helpful, horrifying and wonderful to look at the past. It can drag us down, or it can move us forward.
The difference? God in your life.
When you look back on your week, or any other part of your life, make sure to take your life story with a generous dose of Jesus. Even before you knew him, he was working to redeem you.
He can do remakesâ€”even of the past!