Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not believe it?

Isaiah 43, 18-19, NIV 

 

One of the most difficult things about the books of prophecy is that they tell people what they do not want to hear: If you don't repent, you will be punished. One of the greatest things about the books of prophecy is that they reveal to people that if they do repent, God will take them back. One of the most difficult things for people to believe is not that God will punish them if they do wrong, but that God will forgive them if they stop doing wrong and return to Him on His terms.

 

This is essentially the message of the passage you see above. The Israelites have sinned and are about to be exiled in Babylon for seventy years. But at the end of this punishment, God is going to forgive those who repent, bring them back to Jerusalem, and restore them to His good favor. But they are going to have to do something before they can even begin to accept this wonderful promise: They are going to have to stop dwelling in the past!

 

By that, I believe that God is telling them to forget the sins of the past that He has already forgiven. It is true that those sins were both numerous and consequential. But the point is that once the price has been paid (in this case the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent captivity in Babylon), and once the sins has been repented of and forgiven, they needed to let go of the past and begin anew. Why do we need to even bother with these books of prophecy? Well for one thing it is so we can learn the big lesson that is contained in this very passage. And what is that lesson?

 

It is simply this: We need to stop dwelling in the past and let go of the sins that have been forgiven and...

 

accept God's grace!

 

You see, one of the hardest thing that we can ever do is forgive ourselves.  This is not always easy because we know the terrible things that we have done. But once we have acknowledged our sins, repented, had those sins washed away, and start living for the One who died for us, then we can truly stop living in the past and accept the fact that God has truly forgiven us!

 

This is one of the great truths of the Gospel, and it can only be fully accepted by understanding the great capacity that God has to forgive when we do His things in His way. Have you been living with the guilt of your past sins? Has this guilt been bringing you down? If so, it is time to repent of those sins and have them removed in accordance with God's commands, and once having done that...

 

let go of the past and start enjoying the abundant life that He has called you to in Christ Jesus, His Son!

 

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.

Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

Isaiah 44:22, NIV 

 

Today is day 7 of the 30 day challenge to read through the books of the prophets of God, with Isaiah 43-50 being the readings for today. May God richly bless you as you turn from your sins and learn to let go of the past!