Isaiah 43 in the NIV is entitled “Israel’s Only Savior”. While chapter titles and headings were not part of the original biblical text, their inclusion serves to provide a broad perspective on the verses they encapsulate. Verses like the following found in the heart of Isaiah 43:
“‘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.’” Isaiah 43:18-19
In the aftermath of Holy Week with its pinnacle celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, Isaiah reminds us of the ancient words, God’s voice made audible through His prophet, and how they point us to Israel’s only Savior. Our Savior, Jesus Christ.
A couple weeks ago I proposed the question, “What difference does it make to you that Christ was crucified?” Today I offer the only question that can naturally follow. What difference does it make to you that Christ was resurrected?
The miracle of the resurrection is what sets Jesus apart from any other religious figure. Jesus is our Living Savior, unlike his potential counterparts like Muhammad or Buddha, or even the god of self with its inevitable destruction and physical as well as spiritual death.
Jesus is set apart and, in turn, He sets us apart. The Resurrected Christ gives Christian believers the hope of rebirth, redemption, renewal, and even reversal. Reversal, you might ask? Yes, a reversal of nature.
Isaiah 43: 18-19 is clearly not asking us to look into the rear view mirror of the past, but to perceive a new work of God in His “making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”. In case you haven’t been hiking in the woods or strolling through the desert lately, it’s easy to get lost in a dense forest and die of thirst in a dry wasteland. But God. In Isaiah 43, He promises a reversal of nature with a way and some water.
Maybe you already know where I am headed, but first, let’s talk about what this reversal of nature looks like in our daily lives.
On an individual level when we are saved, God transforms our sinful, human nature into a spiritual nature modeled after the Spirit of Christ. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God reverses our sin marked path that leads to physical and spiritual death, and leads us through the narrow gate that leads to life everlasting.
On a relational level in Ephesians 5, God commands a husband to love his wife and a wife to honor and respect her husband. By nature, men are good at honor and respect. By nature, women are good at love and affection. Yet God calls husbands and wives to live out the very attributes that don’t come naturally. These relational gifts must be supernaturally lived out by the Spirit’s reversal of nature in a husband and a wife. Marriage often requires a reversal of nature with selfless and divinely inspired acts of love and respect.
On a corporate level in 2 Peter, we are called to love and serve one another in the Spirit of the Divine.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:3-8 NIV
Perhaps Paul expresses the ultimate reversal of nature in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
God’s promise of a reversal in nature in Isaiah 43 is manifest in the Divine nature of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “Way” and the “Living Water” promised to the lost and the thirsty. And His resurrection promises rebirth, redemption, renewal, and yes, reversal.
You are never too deep in the wilderness or too wasted in the wastelands for Jesus to come and reverse your destiny.