First Reading: Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25
A New Israel
God said to the people:
18 "Don't remember the former things, and don't consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing. It springs forth now. Don't you know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
20 The animals of the field shall honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; because I give water in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people which I formed for myself, that they might set forth my praise. 22 Yet you have not called on me, Jacob; but you have been weary of me, Israel.
24b You have burdened me with your sins. You have wearied me with your iniquities. 25 I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins."
World English Bible
43:18-19: These passages were written when the best and brightest of the nation lived in exile. The Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem and had taken the leaders back to their distant capitol. After fifty years, exile had dashed the people's hopes. Even though Cyrus, the Persian conqueror, promised reform, the people survived in a state of permanent depression.
This new prophet (which we call "Second Isaiah") staged a mock trial in which the guilty of Judea were acquitted. God had forgotten their past, so should they. Instead, the nation would travel a new Exodus, for they would return home!
43:21-22: Yet, exile had dulled their hearts. Wallowing in their self-pity, they had lost faith. They did not call upon the Lord. Their focus lay upon their own plight, not upon their immanent liberation. Without hope, they continued to sin.
43:24b-25: But God would not be denied his intervention or his reputation. God would forgive his people and free them, for his sake. Forgiveness and liberation had a purpose. Both would glorify God.
How does self-pity cripple a believer? What does it take to shake someone out of self-pity and give them hope? How does God give you hope?