(This post is the second part of the series, Now I Declare New Things!)
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.
Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
There are two vital truths we need to extract from these passages of Scripture regarding “the former things.” The first and most obvious is that the things that used to be, “the things of the past,” are now completed and are now passed. That is to say, they are history. In speaking of someone who has died, we use the euphemism that they “passed away.” That is precisely how God wants us to regard the modus operandi, or ways of operating or doing things, that are of the past — as “the former things” — particularly at those junctures when He begins announcing, “Now I declare new things! Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth!” And this can apply either to individual believers or the collective church. God is at those times acting as a spiritual attending physician, pronouncing “the former things” dead, deceased. Yet, at the same time He is also acting as a spiritual obstetrician, delivering the newborn, “the new thing” that God is birthing, which will replace the former or passe’ thing.
Simultaneously, at that juncture, we have the stark dichotomy of the lifeless corpse of the deceased, whose heart has ceased to pump the warm blood of life, and has already begun to grow cold and to undergo the death and decay process, and at the same time we have the vibrant embodiment of new hope and all the effects of new life surging through the veins and arteries of the newborn, the new thing. The new thing has indeed sprung forth and we cannot help but be aware of it. Its cries and whines demanding our attention ensure that we are aware of it.
The only thing we can do with the deceased at that point is embalm and bury it. Otherwise, all we’d be doing is propping up a lifeless corpse merely for appearance sake or for the sake of our emotional well-being. Soon, like it or not, we must come to grips with the cold reality that the former things have passed away — they’re dead, deceased, departed — and no matter how much we would wish it so, they are not going to be revived. We must begin to grasp and deal with the immutable fact that they’re simply not coming back. Their span of existence on this earth, whether it be “the former things” — scenarios, circumstances, methods, paradigms — or people we’ve known or loved has concluded.
As all of us who knew and loved my Dad, Larry Lambert, had to do in the aftermath of his Homegoing last June, somehow, when the last note of life has been played, we must all come to deal with the truth that, in the here and now, cessation of life is an integral and inextricable part of life. We must hearken unto and take solace in the Divine Wisdom that —
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven — a time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecc. 3:1-4)
God is now saying to many maturing believers, “The former things have come to pass, and have indeed passed. The new things that have come are a passageway of promotion unto a higher dimension of the Spirit into which I am leading you.”
At some point, the sooner the better, like David with the loss of his infant son, when cessation of life has come, we must cease mourning over the deceased, wash our face, and rejoice in the God of Life who always gives a Solomon, in one form or another, to replace the deceased. I and my mother and surviving siblings personally experienced such Divine consolation in my reunion, seemingly “out of the clear blue,” with my daughter thirty-three days before my Dad’s Graduation. Dad and grand-daughter never met in person before Dad’s passing, but they were united in and by the commonality of the indwelling and enveloping Holy Spirit. What solace God in His abundant mercy has brought me! He gave me my Solomon.
Then, when death has come, when the last trump has sounded, we must allow death to be swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:55)! It’s only a cessation of life in this here and now temporal realm, but not in the there and then eternal realm, for in that realm there is no death, but only life eternal; there is no sorrow or mourning, but only joy and celebration; there is no crying or pain, but only laughter and peace. So when the passing from the temporal to the eternal has transpired with finality, we must commit our attention and energy to the newborn, the “new thing,” that has been birthed and is alive and has not departed but is present, for it is now our progeny, our seed, the means God has ordained for producing our future posterity. At that point, there really is no choice; life cannot be produced by the dead. Only living things can engender living things. Dead things — that which has passed away, passe’ things — cannot produce anything, for they are impotent, barren, lifeless.
Whenever God takes you into a new thing, there’s always an old thing to leave behind — an entire set of circumstances and settings, trappings, systems, models, methods — that have exhausted their usefulness, are now outmoded and obsolete, and will not be useful in the new thing, i.e., the new phase, the new paradigm, the new dimension.
Unfortunately, sometimes that which must be left behind also includes people, relationships.1 Some just will not or cannot make the trip, for various reasons. In some cases it is necessary for us, the person moving on, because we need a new and different kind of provision in the new phase, that those old relationships simply cannot provide, and sometimes it is because WE are a new provision to the new relationships that are formed in the new phase. Yet other times it is because of issues in the lives of the former phase people that prevent them from properly relating to us in the new phase. But, unfortunately, parting company with people who are incongruous and inharmonious with the new phase God is taking you into is part of the process of pursuit of God and His plans and purposes. Moving into new dimensions, of necessity, always entails the founding and forging of new relationships, and a forgetting of what lies behind in order to reach forward to what lies ahead (Plp. 3:13), particularly in the case of those things that lie behind that are entirely incompatible with and therefore adverse to the things that lie ahead, i.e., the new dimension into which we are transitioning.
Notice the associating of the word “now” with the word “new” in all these passages in which God is speaking about declaring and doing new things. This is the part people commonly neglect to recognize. When God decrees something new into effect, unlike other matters especially in personal prophecy over individuals, He always intends it to be “effective immediately!” And, indeed, in the realm of the spirit, it IS effective immediately when He decrees, declares, proclaims, speaks it! Certainly, He is demanding that we behold it, see it, look at it, give our attention to it, immediately. In the Isaiah 43 passage, He reinforces that truth with the Divine inquiry, “Will you not be aware of it?” What God wants us to understand from these passages is that beholding, giving our attention to, acknowledging, pursuing, walking in the new thing that springs forth with God’s declaration and proclamation is not optional, but mandatory, compulsory. If we are to continue our pursuit toward Him, being conformed into His Image, being transformed from glory to glory into the glory of His Image (2 Cor. 3:18), and walking in intimacy in His manifest presence (glory), and if we are to position ourselves in the “place” where His favor and provision is being poured out, we must walk in the new thing that He has decreed.
That is what He means when He follows up the 18th verse of Isaiah 48 with what He says in the 19th verse: “I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Wildernesses and desert experiences almost always precede a “new thing” God is about to do in our inidividual lives or the collective Church. But, eventually in those seemingly aimless wanderings in the spiritual wilderness and slow trudgings through dry spiritual deserts, when mentally we know He is with us but our soul is parched and thirsting for a fresh infusion of the Water of the Spirit, He makes a roadway in the wilderness where roadways do not normally exist and a river in the desert where rivers do not normally exist that leads to His Precious Presence. But, at that moment—when the roadway in the wilderness or the river in the desert appears—we are in a dilemma, a fork-in-the-road crisis! For, now the pathway has been illuminated—by the lamp unto our feet and light unto our path—and now we must choose, either to follow the illuminated pathway toward God and the next juncture He has ordained for our life, or stay on the path we’ve been traveling and remain in the familiar and friendly surroundings of the wilderness or desert we’ve been sojourning in, continuing to reap the same results we’ve been reaping! All the while we are neglecting to walk into the new thing, the blessings it holds are held in abeyance.
The second, somewhat more obscure, meaning we need to draw from God’s declaration, “The former things have come to pass,” is that the reason that the former things came in the first place is so that they can in time pass. That is, they have come in order to pass. It is vital for people who are intrinsically resistant to change and set in their ways to understand that many circumstances and situations in life that develop were never intended by God to be permanent, but have come in order to one day pass. Generally, we are more amenable to that aphormism when it involves the passing of things that are not so good, and especially things that are bad. But, what we need to understand is that it is also true in the case of what we consider “good things.”
The saying, “All good things must come to an end,” is more apropos than we realize or want to acknowledge. Human nature does not want “good things” to end. But, sometimes that is the will of God. Sometimes the good, especially the good with which we have become comfortable and are comforted by, is the thief of the better or best. Thus, sometimes good things must come to an end in order that we can advance into better things. Oftentimes the ending of good things is actually a precursor or pathway to promotion. Often what appears to be grevious is in reality graduation, and what appears to be trouble is in reality transition to a better place or higher dimension. We must be willing to let go of the status quo to move into the place in the Spirit where God wants to take us.
“This too shall pass!” is a concept that can carry great consolation, encouragement, and hope when we are traversing through trials, troubles, and tribulations. Just knowing that everything in this life eventually passes can be a source of great strength and assurance. It is inevitable that our journey of pursuit of God will take us through “high water,” so that we can come to know the God who is a strong tower that the righteous run into in the time of trouble. Sometimes it is our own Sea of Galilee raging storm experiences, so that we, like the Apostles of the Lamb, can experientially know the Omnipotent Jesus who has the power to calm the raging storm with a two-word command: “Be Still!” Or, a Red Sea experience to introduce us to Jesus the Deliverer that Moses and the Israelites met following their deliverance from Egypt. Primarily, these kinds of crises come into our lives to drive us closer to God, to force us to come to know Him and His power and provision in a new, more spiritually advanced, dimension.
Virtually every set of circumstances and scenarios we traverse through in our own trek through the wildernesses of life toward God and His Kingdom are merely temporary. Usually they happen for our teaching, training, and testing in preparation for further spiritual advancement along the continuum of being conformed into the Image of Christ and being transformed from glory to glory. Not recognizing this is a source of needless despair and despondency for individual believers.
Moreover, one of the most problematic tendencies of Christians is to set as permanent what God intends to be only passing. It is the spirit of religion that engenders that kind of misjudgment and misunderstanding of events and circumstances. A characteristic of religiosity is obsession with preserving the past — what once happened, what God did in another era, and the status quo — rather than “press(ing) on,” a la Philippians 3:14, to possess as our present possession what God is doing today in our midst. The attitude God’s Word prescribes that we have is: “THIS is the day (today) that the Lord has made; I will be glad and rejoice in IT!” In fact, Paul said that in order to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” we must “(forget) what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead!” If Christians acted as if God is truly the “I AM,” contrasted to the “I WAS,” our personal lives as well as our churches would be a whole lot different than they are!
The various phases of our journey are only temporary, but rarely, especially at the intrusive inception of adverse circumstances — times of trouble, trial, tribulation, and temptation to despair — do we perceive them as such. Indeed, one of the most effective weapons the enemy of our souls has in his arsenal to use against us is discouragement and despair. Whenever adversity hits our lives, our first reaction typically is to despair and become discouraged, because we presume it is here to stay and defeat us, instead of something that has come to be overcome and to pass, “for in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37, KJV).
Often, our first reaction to trouble is to be highly offended. It’s as if we say, “What is this?! How dare you come into my life! Don’t you know who I am?” Well, the truth of the matter is that Satan brings these things into our lives and God allows him to bring them into our lives because they both — God and Satan — DO know who we are! Satan authors it to test our mettle; God allows it to prove our mettle through Him and Him through us. Difficulties come into our lives so that we can advance into the dimension in which we indeed are “MORE THAN conquerors” by appropriating the powers of Him who loved us and overwhelmingly CONQUERING those difficulties via His Power and Might operating in and through us (cf., Rom. 8:31-31)! Remember, God will not allow any temptation, test, trial, or trouble to beset us beyond what we are “able” — able not merely to withstand, but to overcome!
So, why does God make such a big deal about pondering and recalling passe matters, saying, “Behold, the former things have come to pass; do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past?” It is that we cannot possess as our present possession what God is doing now in this time — the dimension of His Power and Presence He is manifesting now in the present — from where we have been, what was, and through what has been previously; i.e., “the former things” that have come to pass! We can only possess as our present possession what God is manifesting now, at the present time, by forgetting the former things, by “not call(ing) to mind the former things,” and by not “ponder(ing) things of the past,” in order that we can “Behold” (look at, gaze upon) and “be aware of” the new thing God is doing! In other words, we cannot operate in a new dimension until we leave the former dimension and move into it.
Passe’ things (former things, things of the past) are dead things, things that have passed away. Living in passe’, obsolete, outdated modes, methods, paradigms, and dimensions is living in the flesh realm, which is the realm of the dead, the lifeless, the deceased, being infused with death. It profits and produces nothing, Jesus said. He also said to let the dead bury the dead, the lifeless, the deceased. But, Spirit-led believers must separate themselves from the flesh realm and move on into the “Land of the Living” — the dimension where God lives and where all things are alive and living, being infused with the Zoe-Life of God.
God is now saying to many maturing believers, “The former things have come to pass, and have indeed passed. The new things that have come are a passageway of promotion unto a higher dimension of the Spirit into which I am leading you. Come and follow Me!”
1 No, I’m not referring here to marriage relationships and biblically-unjustified divorce.