“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:18-19 (NKJV)
At the turn of each year, many of us would look backwards to review the year. Many times, this process of looking backwards forces each of us to examine our past. Everyone has a past. Our past often contain regrets, hurts and disappointments that have failed us again and again. Yet, why do we still hold on to it?
Israel had tried for almost 1500 years (before Christ came) to keep the Mosaic law; they tried to gain righteousness by the works of their flesh. No one succeeded. The best of them failed. Israel went into cycles of failure. Their failures eventually made them go into exile. Jerusalem was sacked, the temple was destroyed. By God’s grace they returned as a nation through His servant Nehemiah. The temple was rebuilt. Still Israel continued their old ways.
The law was given through Moses, but Jesus Emmanuel came in-person to bring grace and truth (John 1:17). Yet Israel rejected Him. They refused to let go of their old ways. In AD 70, Jerusalem was razed, the nation of Israel gone, the temple was again destroyed.
The Mosaic law failed because men attempted to fulfil it through human effort; Christ became flesh and through his death on the cross, sin is once and for all put away in the flesh (Romans 8:3). Through his atonement, the Holy Spirit can now dwell in us. We can now fulfil the righteous requirement of the law not through the flesh but by the Spirit (Romans 8:4). We receive the Spirit simply by faith and through the means of grace, each one experiences God’s strengthening and empowerment.
Christ came to put away the old through the cross. The flesh can be considered as the old, the Spirit as the new. Are we still trying to hold on to the old? Jesus told us to not put new wine into old wine skin (Mathew 9:17), otherwise we will lose everything.
Paul in Galatians 4:21-31 explains “Cast out Hagar and her son Ishmael”. They do not have anything to do with the promise of God to Abraham (the promise eventually is also to us through Christ Jesus). Hagar the slave and her son Ishmael who was born of human works (i.e. the flesh) represent the old. Sarah was a free person and Isaac was born by God’s promise through spiritual means. Like Isaac, we are all children of the promise born of the Spirit.
God by his grace and promise will pursue and rescue Israel again. As indicated in the Scriptures, Israel will finally call out to Jesus. Christ will come again, and Israel will recognize him as their King. Peace will finally come and stay forevermore.
The new year is here, let us not hold on the old anymore. Cast out the old, throw the failed past out. Through the Holy Spirit in us, we can put away bitterness and unforgiveness and rid ourselves of fleshly arrogance.
Stop believing that our past failures will define our future. In Christ we have new beginnings. God declared that he will make new road and rivers to appear even in the wilderness and the desert (Isaiah 43:19).
Believe in the Spirit and do not go back to our fleshly efforts. Christ does not live in the old rituals and man-made monuments; Christ lives inside us.
By Keith Khor