When God Does a New Thing – Part 1: Preparation

“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?”
Isaiah 43:18-19a

We are certainly living in unprecedented times!  What the world is experiencing right now seemed to come out of nowhere and within months/weeks our whole world turned upside down.  There have certainly been plagues and pandemics before, but nothing that has brought about this level of global social disruption, world-wide contagion/death, and personal/national economic disaster.  Globally, it could be said that we are in the midst of an historic “new thing”!

This historic “new thing” for the world is also forcing and facilitating an historic “new thing” within the Church.  The Church, worldwide, has been forced to shut down virtually all public gatherings and to find new ways of staying connected with, ministering to, and serving the people of God and the communities they are in.  There are very few types of calamities or judgements that could have the global effect of stopping the established Church ” dead in its tracks” from carrying on in its traditional forms and practices, while still allowing a significant means of virtual connection and ministry, thus forcing the Church to enter into and conform to a radically “new thing”.

We know that, ultimately, behind everything is a sovereign God who has not been caught off-guard by this pandemic.  In His perfect foreknowledge of all things, He has had this world-wide crisis incorporated into His eternal plan “for such a time as this” to ultimately serve His Divine purpose and the supreme good of His people.

“…according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will”  (Ephesians 1:11b)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

The big question is, then, “What ‘new thing’ does God desire to do in the Church not only in the midst of this crisis, but, more importantly, through it and beyond it?

I do not believe that God’s purpose for the present “new thing”, is merely to serve as a “temporary fix” to patch us through until we can hurriedly return back to the “old thing” as soon the crises subsides.  That is not God’s way.  He says:

“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?”
Isaiah 43:18-19a

When God does a “new thing”, He commands and counsels us to, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”  His purpose for His people is ever pushing forward, and so Jesus says, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:62)  Likewise, Paul says, Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)  This certainly has an individual application, but it also, just as certainly, has a corporate, collective application. 

If the Church comes out the other side of a calamity and crisis of this magnitude virtually the same as it went in, I believe She will have much to answer to Her Lord for.  I would not be surprised if even greater judgments or persecutions would shortly ensue.  Scripture says, For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God;” (1 Peter 4:17). Yet, it also says, If we would examine ourselves first, we would not come under God’s judgment.” (1 Corinthians 11:31 GNT.)  Or as the Message translation puts it, “If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on.”  There are deep issues that God wants to address and radically reform within His people, and this world-wide calamity is a severe instrument in His hand to get down to the very root of them.  If we don’t perceive and allow Him to do His incisive, radical work within us now, I shudder to think what it will take for Him to get our attention going forward! 

Every believer and every collective body of believers, therefore, need to be first looking inwards and then forwards in this hour, praying earnestly to be in-tune and in-step with God’s “NEW thing”.  Our Lord is decisively moving onward and upward into His full purpose for His people, not longingly looking backwards to bygone days of circular, “same old, same old”, wilderness wanderings!

“And the LORD spoke to me, saying, You have circled this mountain long enough.
Now turn north,'” (Deuteronomy 2:2-3 NAS)

Preparing to Enter the Land of God’s “New Thing”

The Scriptures are overflowing with examples of God leading His people into His “new thing” for them, and Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 10:11, I believe, aptly applies to these situations: Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”  One of these examples, in particular, offers us valuable insight and wise instruction as to how to prepare ourselves to enter into God’s “new thing”.

As Israel came through the wilderness to the Jordan River and was getting ready to enter into God’s “new thing” for them, life in the land of Canaan, Joshua instructed the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” (Joshua 3:5)  When God is doing a “new thing”, what is needed first and foremost is a new and deeper consecration of His people.  A new level of consecration is needed because in God’s “new thing”, a new level of  faith is demanded and a new level of obedience is required.  It is no small thing to break with old thought-patterns, assumptions, ways, means, practices, traditions, experiences, and expectations.  These are far more ingrained, intertwined, and inextricable from the fabric of our lives, both on a personal (psychological) level and collective (sociological) level than we would ever imagine.  It usually takes something terribly drastic to rend the conformative matrix of our established patterns sufficiently for personal and collective change to even be possible.  That is why it is so important to understand the purpose of the Lord in this terribly drastic time we are living in right now.

Outward rendings of the “conformative matrix” of our lives, individually and corporately, however, are not enough to render permanent change.  If these are not matched by a corresponding inward rending of the “conformative matrix” of our inner man through prayer, repentance, and a deeper consecration, little to no lasting outward change will ensue and remain once the crisis has passed.  Everything will simply snap back to its original form as soon as the outward pressure is lessened or removed, and most likely become even more resilient, inflexible, and solidified than before.  It is, therefore, more important what God is doing inside His people during this time, than any outward, temporary changes. The primary focus of the Lord in this hour is to do a deep work of preparation within the hearts of His people to get us equipped and ready to enter into His “new thing” outwardly.

The children of Israel were also instructed before crossing Jordan to keep their eyes fixed on the ark of the covenant and to move out and follow it only when it moved, being carried on the shoulders of the priests. (see Joshua 3:3)  They were told, “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” (vs.4)  In this “new thing” that God is doing, there is only one way to navigate our way forward, by fixing our eyes on “the ark of the covenant”, i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ, to only move when we see Him move, and to only follow where He leads us to go, for we have never been this way before!  We are not called to blindly follow the “former things”, but to “forget” them.  We are not to “dwell on the past”, but to be “straining toward what is ahead”, being led by the Holy Spirit in all things as we follow Christ alone!

When the ark of the covenant did move forward, it was carried into the middle of the Jordan River and the waters were cut off and piled up a long ways off at a town called Adam.  (see Joshua 3:14-17)  The Israelites crossed through the dry riverbed and came through into the promised land of their inheritance, Canaan.  This act of Israel’s crossing Jordan is a deep and rich symbolic type of the inward, experiential work of the cross in the life of the followers of Jesus Christ.

The Israelites were then led to Gilgal, and there the entire second generation of Israelite men and boys, who were born in the wilderness, were circumcised before the Lord.  Circumcision was the outward sign of the covenant that God made with His people through Abraham.  It was an outward sign of the Abrahamic covenant, but it pointed to an inward work of the Spirit in the new covenant, of a cutting away of “the flesh”, the sinful nature, by the Spirit of God. (See Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 6:15; Phil. 3:3 Col. 2:11-12)

The nation of Israel was not prepared to move into God’s “new thing” until they had first consecrated themselves afresh to the Lord, descended to the lowest place to cross Jordan, and been circumcised at Gilgal.  So, today, the Church will not be prepared to move into God’s “new thing”, until She, collectively consecrates herself afresh to the Lord, follows Christ into a deep experiential working of the cross leading to an inward circumcision of Her heart.

These are not the kind of deep spiritual workings that God’s people generally gravitate towards and embrace on a collective basis.  Apart from them, however, there just is no preparation for crossing into and possessing the land of our inheritance.  Like the two and a half tribes of Israel who decided to settle on the east side of Jordan, we will remain where things are more comfortable, familiar, and predictable, but we will miss God’s ultimate intention for us.

Wherever you may be at this time, and whatever your circumstances, know that God wants to do a “new thing” in your life.  He also wants to do a “new thing” in the expression of the Church that you are a part of.  This fresh working of the Lord must begin within our own hearts with a fresh consecration to Him and His “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20).  This must be followed by a deep working of His Spirit, applying the cross to our inner man and cutting away (“circumcising”) the “flesh” of our “old man” with its old and dead ways.  This will only come about through spending extended time in His Presence in humility, repentance, and deep consecration.  But this is the time, and this is the pressing need among God’s people, that He may bring us through this deep, dark crisis, transformed from the inside out, prepared to enter into the land of our inheritance…the land of God’s “new thing”!

~ ~ ~

“But as it is written:
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man
the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'”
1 Corinthians 2:9

~ ~ ~

Continued…here


Related:
Five Dynamics of the Spiritual Life (Three-post series complete – PDF)
Parables of the Cross – by Isabella Lilias Trotter (free audiobook)
“We’re Going Up” – by David Bolton  (shadow and fulfillment of “possessing the land” – original ballad – listen below)


“mystery post”  (Different with every click. 🙂 )

About David Bolton

Following Him who is the Way; Learning of Him who is the Truth; Living in Him who is the Life. - John 14:6
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9 Responses to When God Does a New Thing – Part 1: Preparation

  1. errollmulder says:

    You’ve read my mind and heart, David, and expressed Isaiah’s message so graphically and beautifully and timeously, better than I could ever do. Not a popular or painless word, but a much needed one. I subscribe to a few blogs from folk still in the institutional church, and they are more and more persuaded to the above outlook and micro-communities, praise God. “Lord, open me and our house churches up to the ‘new thing’ you are wanting to do in our city and country, both individually and corporately.’ BTW, our mobile phone (cell phone in SA) house church chat-group has been so enriching during lock down – ‘church 24/7.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • David Bolton says:

      Thank you, Erroll. What you’ve share here is very encouraging! This pandemic is forcing God’s people to place a premium on personal relationships and small group connections, which are the essential building blocks of any larger expression. But these can also be minimized as to their importance because they are not as impressive as the large, and also are more costly to walk in and maintain. This shift, I see, as one of the major adjustments that God is working into His people during this time for going forward. Thanks for sharing what you’re experiencing in SA! Love and blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hawkeye says:

    Thank you again David for this timely word. Waiting with great anticipation for the continuation of this topic. Blessings

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lloyd says:

    Amen, David!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is outstanding, David. I’d like to share this with my blog readers, if you don’t mind? There are many voices calling the Bride to make herself ready, and it’s potentially exciting for her if she does heed the grace given in this time! I will of course give you the credit as the author, and provide the link to your website and page where this article is hosted.

    Liked by 1 person

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