Pr. Eric Swensson

14 March 2013

Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 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. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise. __ Isaiah 43:16-21

photo of Pr. EricIn the fourteenth verse God is identified as the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel and He announces redemption for the Israelites in Babylon. Those are titles that are well known to all, Redeemer, and Holy One of Israel. Then we have one not so common but one you will recognize, the LORD, which maketh a way. God the WayMaker.

God the WayMaker. The Lord our Redeemer is a Waymaking God. He made a way through the Red Sea for the Hebrew slaves. He redeemed his children out of slavery in Egypt and brought them to a promised land.

Here in Isaiah 43 God is reminding His children who He is and what he has done in the past and that He is going to do something similar. He is going to redeem them out of slavery. But he says it is going to be a new thing, do you not perceive it? He says, “I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Christians have read this lesson and made connections. First of all, the gospel: when Jesus died on the cross he took all of our sins upon Himself. By His blood we are redeemed. God is a Waymaking God and He made a way for you and me out of bondage and into freedom.

Secondly, after bringing us out of bondage Jesus makes life new. He makes all life new. He makes a way for us in the wilderness of the world; He makes rivers in the desert. Here it is “rivers in the desert,” eight chapters earlier speak of streams in the desert. Water means everything to a desert people, it means life and surely that is what it means to us here spiritually. Here it was spoken prophetically, but we also have the same picture given to us in history, in:

the LORD said to Moses, "Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink." __Exodus 17:5-6

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. St. Paul tells us in:

I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.  __1 Corinthians 10:1-4

Furthermore we have it from Jesus Himself in:

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.  __John 7:37-39

There are many times that water is used in Scripture with this spiritual sense. We are baptized in this Spirit and so we believe that Holy Baptism is a Sacrament and God does a new thing and we become a new creation. Many times water is spoken of as life-giving water in Scripture, but let’s hear just one more.

From the last chapter of the Bible, in Revelation we read:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.  __Revelation 22:1-5

And that my friends, in brief is the story of the WayMaker. Jesus Christ, sent to set His people free: with the same power God used to split the waves of the Red Sea and form dry land for the children of Israel to walk on toward freedom, God makes a way for all of us to make it home and yes, heaven is our home. In the very same power God is making a way for us in this life watching over us through it all. Out of the heart of Jesus flow life-giving waters. When you are dry, turn to Jesus. And as we see in Revelation 22, this is not for a select few, it is for the Nations. +Amen

P.S. As Matthew Henry wrote:

Through Jesus, God promises not only to deliver us out of Babylon, but to conduct us safely home. Jesus makes a way in the wilderness and out of His heart flow rivers to water the desert. The same power that made a way in the sea makes a way in the wilderness through the greatest difficulties. And He does this so those whom He fashioned according to His will, He forms for himself, He brings honor to His name, and this is what we desire to do on hearing this Good News. We want to spend our life praising His name. “He that is the first cause is the highest end both of the first and of the new creation. The Lord has made all things for Himself, His Israel especially, to be to Him for a people, and for a name, and for a praise. It is therefore our duty to show forth his praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to his service. As he formed us, so he feeds us, and keeps us, and leads us, and all for Himself; for every instance therefore of his goodness we must praise him, else we answer not the end of the beings and blessings we have.”