“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 desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)
“When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, ‘No! He is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who has that name.’ Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John.’ Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, ‘What then is this child going to be?’ For the Lord’s hand was with him.” (Luke 1:57-66 NIV)
Elizabeth and Zechariah were righteous people who were up there in age. They had no children because Elizabeth was barren. By lot Zechariah was chosen to serve in the temple one day. While he was serving, an angel appeared and told him that Elizabeth was going to have a child who was to be named John. The angel said that God was doing a new thing and their son John was going to usher in the Messiah. Zechariah didn’t believe what the angel said so the Lord made it so Zechariah could not speak.
When the baby was born, another new thing happened. The baby was not named after a relative which was the custom of that day. Instead the baby was to be named John as the angel had told them.
Zechariah could count on one hand the number of times God opened barren wombs in the Scripture but he probably thought that was then and He hadn’t done that for Elizabeth. They had not had a baby in all those years and it was impossible for her to have one now. This was not a new thing that God did with Elizabeth but Zechariah still looked at the past and didn’t see any way their future would be any different.
Today we may look back to something great that we read of as the miracles in the Bible or even miracles we have heard from in history since those days. We then may think that those things don’t happen today. Miracles were for those times but don’t happen now. God used great men like Abraham, Joshua, Moses, etc. But He can’t use me. Sometimes we may look at our past and see all our failures and think that God will not perform any miracles in our lives because of these. We may think we have lived such a bad life that God cannot use us. We hear of people today who are healed or become great people of God who do many things like preach to large crowds or become missionaries. We may think that because of our past that none of that can happen to us.
As the verses from Isaiah above say, we have to stop looking at the past. God is doing a new thing. He can do a new thing in our lives. He still performs miracles. He calls people to lead from small backgrounds. We need to make ourselves available to Him to do what He wants to do with and through us.
Don’t be like Zechariah. Trust the Lord completely and look for the new thing He has for your life.
By Dean W. Masters
Unedited redistribution approved
(To access the entire “A New Thing” mini-series, please click here.)