"Behold, I am doing 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." Isaiah 43:19
God delivered the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, and He now wants them to look at what He will do for His people next. What is this new thing? What is the way in the wilderness and river in the desert?
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38
Christ is the way and the river of living water. He gives direction to the lost and satisfies the thirst of our longing for meaning and affirmation. He gives life in the desolate place. The world today rejects the exclusivity of Christ. God has made a way through Christ, who claims to be the only path and lifeline to salvation and reconciliation with our Heavenly Father. In Christ alone, condemnation can be avoided, not through our efforts, our parent’s faith, or any other worldview. Christ has become the path, so we don’t have to try and trail-blaze our own.
A stream in the desert is satisfaction for the weary, and a way in the wilderness is hope for the lost.
In order to appreciate this verse, we need to key in on the surroundings as well. God makes a way in the wilderness. The wilderness lacks direction making it easy to get lost and wander. Our life before Christ is aimless, wandering without hope or purpose. We fixate on the wilderness (this life) and forget about life outside of it (eternity). When you are so consumed with living in the wilderness, you can lose focus on what really matters. Secondly, God makes rivers in the desert. We can think of the desert as a place without life, vitality, or nourishment. Before Christ, we find ourselves lacking what is necessary to live, that being Living Water. We turn to every well of water that always leaves us unsatisfied as they quickly run dry and provoke us to search for the next source. Christ puts an end to this search for satisfaction.
“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5
Christ here declares that He is restoring creation in His revelation to John. Not only has God done a new thing in making a way for the lost and a river in the desert, but He will soon alter the whole landscape. There will no longer be a dismal wilderness surrounding the path to follow or a desert of discontentment and purposelessness that engulfs the ground except for the river. Instead, there will be a new creation where there will be no more death, no more crying or pain, and the older order has passed away.
In Isaiah 43, God calls the Israelites and us to put aside the past, the old thing, and their old sins and put on a new way of living. God has made a new way, blotted out our sins, and remembers them no more. This isn’t a call to forget God’s deliverance, but to forget the failures and focus now on the new way forward through His grace alone and praise Him for it in remembrance.