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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, April 4, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Isaiah 43:16–21

Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters,
who brings out chariot and horse,
    army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
    they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
    the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise. (NRSV)

The Israelites had been conquered by Babylonia several hundred years after escaping slavery in Egypt and taken into captivity there. They’re described here as God’s “people,” God’s “chosen,” and the people that God “formed” for himself. Yet they’re exiled.

The prophet Isaiah urges them to listen to God and reminds them of how God orchestrated their earlier deliverance from slavery in Egypt; the Israelites literally walked across the Red Sea on the “path” that God made for them, and Pharaoh’s powerful pursuing army was “extinguished, snuffed out like a wick” when it pursued the Israelites into the Red Sea.

Isaiah then prescribes a three-step self-help process for the people to get ready to be delivered again. First, he told them to forget the past, to stop contemplating their “wilderness” and “wasteland” experiences, both words being metaphors for times of travail during the Exodus. Second, they should focus on their future, looking for God to do “a new thing,” which was to deliver them from Babylonia. Finally, they were to praise God.

March 2020 through March 2022 included wilderness and wasteland experiences for so many, complete with a 100-year worldwide pandemic as an overlay on American and worldwide events that have caused public and private disruptions, suffering, hopelessness, and death. This passage is a welcome reminder to still listen to God and expect God to continue to put us on new paths of deliverance where we will see metaphorical “wild animals” honor God. As the first lines of a hymn by Civilla Durfee Martin says, “Be not dismayed whatever betide, God will take care of you.”

God, we praise you for being our eternal deliverer. Help us to listen for your voice and obey. Turn our attention toward the divine new things that only you offer the world. Guide us to your paths and solutions. Amen.

Written by Jeanne Griffin, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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