Isaiah 43:19
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
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43:14-21 The deliverance from Babylon is foretold, but there is reference to greater events. The redemption of sinners by Christ, the conversion of the Gentiles, and the recall of the Jews, are described. All that is to be done to rescue sinners, and to bring the believer to glory, is little, compared with that wondrous work of love, the redemption of man.I will do a new thing - Something that has not hitherto occurred, some unheard of and wonderful event, that shall far surpass all that he had formerly done (see the note at Isaiah 42:9).

Now it shall spring forth - (See the note at Isaiah 42:9). It shall spring up as the grass does from the earth; or it shall bud forth like the opening leaves and flowers - a beautiful figure, denoting the manner in which the events of Divine Providence come to pass.

I will even make a way in the wilderness - In this part of the verse, the prophet describes the anxious care which God would show in protecting his people, and providing for them in conducting them to their native land. See the expressions fully explained in the notes at Isaiah 41:17-19.

19. new—unprecedented in its wonderful character (Isa 42:9).

spring forth—as a germinating herb: a beautiful image of the silent but certain gradual growth of events in God's providence (Mr 4:26-28).

way in … wilderness—just as Israel in the wilderness, between the Red Sea and Canaan, was guided, and supplied with water by Jehovah; but the "new" deliverance shall be attended with manifestations of God's power and love, eclipsing the old (compare Isa 41:17-19). "I will open a way, not merely in the Red Sea, but in the wilderness of the whole world; and not merely one river shall gush out of the rock, but many, which shall refresh, not the bodies as formerly, but the souls of the thirsty, so that the prophecy shall be fulfilled: 'With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation'" [Jerome]. "A way" often stands for the true religion (Ac 9:2; 18:26). "Rivers" express the influences of the Holy Spirit (Joh 7:37-39). Israel's literal restoration hereafter is included, as appears by comparing Isa 11:15, 16.

A new thing; such a work as was never yet done in the world, even the redemption of the world by the Messiah.

Now; shortly, although it was not to be done till after some hundreds of years. For so the Scripture oft speaketh of things at a great distance of time as if they were now at hand, as Haggai 2:6 Jam 5:9 Revelation 22:20, and elsewhere; which it doth to correct our impatience, and to make us willing to wait till God’s time come; and to assure us that the mercy shall come as soon as ever it is fit for us, and we for it; and to make us sensible of the inconsiderableness of time, and all temporal things, in comparison of God, and of the eternal things; upon which account it is said that a thousand years are in God’s sight but as one day, Psalm 90:4.

Shall ye not know it? certainly you Jews shall know it by experience, and shall find that I do not deceive you with vain hopes.

I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert; I will give you direction and provision in the wilderness, where there is commonly no path, and where all necessaries are wanting; which as it literally speaks of God’s conducting them in the way from Babylon to Jerusalem, which lay through a great desert; so it is mystically meant of those spiritual blessings which God in and through Christ will confer upon all his people, not the Jews only, but also the Gentiles, who in prophetical language are oft compared to the wilderness, as Isaiah 35:1, and elsewhere.

Behold, I will do a new thing,.... A wonderful and unheard of thing, and therefore introduced with a "behold", as a note of admiration; the same with the new thing created in the earth, Jeremiah 31:22, the incarnation of the Son of God; who took flesh of a virgin, appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh, and was made sin and a curse for his people, in order to obtain eternal redemption for them; which blessing, though not newly thought of, resolved on, contrived, and agreed upon, that being from eternity; nor newly made known, or as to the virtue and efficacy of it, which had been from the beginning of the world, yet new as to the impetration of it by the blood and sacrifice of Christ; and may be also called "new", because excellent, it being of a spiritual nature, complete and eternal, and having so many valuable blessings in it, as justification, pardon, and eternal life:

now it shall spring forth; or bud forth as a branch, in a very short time, suddenly, and at once; one of the Messiah's names is that of the Branch; see Zechariah 3:8,

shall ye not know it? the Redeemer, and the redemption by him. It was known to them that looked for it, and to whom the Gospel is sent, and the Spirit reveals and applies it; these know the nature of it, own it to be of God, and know their interest in it, and know the author of it, in whom they have believed, by the characters given of him: and as this may have respect to the redemption of Christ, so to the conversion of the Gentiles, and to the grace of God dispensed through Christ to them; when old things passed away, and all things became new; a new covenant of grace was exhibited, a new church state set up, new ordinances appointed, and a new people called to partake of all this, on whom was a new face of things; and wonderful and excellent things were done for them, as follows:

I will even make a way in the wilderness; as there was a way made for the Israelites through the wilderness, which lay between Egypt and Canaan; and through another, which lay between Babylon and Judea; so the Lord would also make a way in the Gentile world, comparable to a wilderness for its barrenness and unfruitfulness, for the Gospel to enter into it, where it should run, and be glorified; where Christ, the way of salvation, should be made known; and where there should be a way for Christians to walk together, in the fellowship of the Gospel:

and rivers in the desert; the doctrines of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, which should be preached and administered in the Gentile world, before like a desert; and the graces of the Spirit, which should be brought into the hearts of men by means of them; and the large communications of grace from Christ; and the discoveries of the love of God, with the blessings of it; compared to rivers for their abundance, and for the comforting, reviving, and fructifying nature of them.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the {t} wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

(t) Meaning, that their deliverance out of Babylon would be more famous than that from Egypt was, Jer 23:7, Hag 2:10, 2Co 5:17, Re 21:5,7.

19. The making of the way through the desert and water for the pilgrims to drink (See on ch. Isaiah 40:3 f., Isaiah 41:18 ff.) is considered to be a miracle transcending the passage of the Red Sea, and all the miracles which attended the first exodus. This is the new thing on which the prophet’s mind fastens as the symbol of Israel’s deliverance.

now it shall &c.] Rather: even now it is springing forth; do ye not recognise it? In ch. Isaiah 42:9, the new things are spoken of as announced before they “spring forth,” while as yet there is no sign of their appearing; here to the lively imagination of the prophet they are already seen “germinating,” and he calls on the people to see them as the inevitable issue of the conquests of Cyrus. But while the above seems the most effective rendering of the question, that of the E.V. is quite possible:—“shall ye not experience it.”

the desert] Heb. Jěshîmôn, an utterly barren and arid region (Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 68:7; Psalm 78:40; Psalm 107:4 &c.) as distinguished from midbâr (“wilderness” or “steppe”), where flocks can find a scanty sustenance. It occurs as a proper name in Numbers 21:20 (1 Samuel 26:1).

Verse 19. - Behold, I will do a new thing (comp. Isaiah 42:9, with the comment). It is, of course, quite possible that the novelty is not merely in the circumstances of the deliverance, but extends to all its results, among which is the Messianic kingdom - verily, a "new thing" (see Jeremiah 31:22). Now it shall spring forth; rather, already it is springing up (comp. Isaiah 42:9). Things, however, are more advanced (to the prophet's eye) than when that passage was written. Events are shaping themselves - the deliverance approaches. Shall ye not know it? rather, will ye not give heed to it? Will not the exiled people, whom Isaiah addresses, turn their thoughts this way, and let the idea of deliverance take possession of their minds, instead of brooding on past and present sufferings (see Isaiah 40:30; Isaiah 41:17; Isaiah 42:22)? God is about to make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. As he led his people out of their Egyptian bondage, first through the Red Sea, and then through a "howling wilderness" (Deuteronomy 32:10), so now he will "make a way" for them through a still more desolate tract. We are nowhere historically told by what route the Israelites ultimately returned. If they went by Tadmor and Damascus, they must have traversed a most arid and difficult desert. Even if they did not quit the Euphrates till they reached the latitude of Aleppo, still they must have had some wide tracts of wilderness to cross. Isaiah 43:19There now follows a second field of the picture of redemption; and the expression "for your sake" is expounded in Isaiah 43:16-21 : "Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth a road through the sea, and a path through tumultuous waters; who bringeth out chariot and horse, army and hero; they lie down together, they never rise: they have flickered away, extinguished like a wick. Remember not things of olden time, nor meditate upon those of earlier times! Behold, I work out a new thing: will ye not live to see it? Yea, I make a road through the desert, and streams through solitudes. The beast of the field will praise me, wild dogs and ostriches: for I give water in the desert, streams in solitude, to give drink to my people, my chosen. The people that I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise." What Jehovah really says commences in Isaiah 43:18. Then in between He is described as Redeemer out of Egypt; for the redemption out of Egypt was a type and pledge of the deliverance to be looked for out of Babylon. The participles must not be rendered qui dedit, eduxit; but from the mighty act of Jehovah in olden time general attributes are deduced: He who makes a road in the sea, as He once showed. The sea with the tumultuous waters is the Red Sea (Nehemiah 9:11); ‛izzūz, which rhymes with vâsūs, is a concrete, as in Psalm 24:8, the army with the heroes at its head. The expression "bringeth out," etc., is not followed by "and suddenly destroys them," but we are transported at once into the very midst of the scenes of destruction. ישׁכּבוּ shows them to us entering upon the sleep of death, in which they lie without hope (Isaiah 26:14). The close (kappishtâh khâbhū) is iambic, as in Judges 5:27. The admonition in Isaiah 43:18 does not commend utter forgetfulness and disregard (see Isaiah 66:9); but that henceforth they are to look forwards rather than backward. The new thing which Jehovah is in the process of working out eclipses the old, and deserves a more undivided and prolonged attention. Of this new thing it is affirmed, "even now it sprouts up;" whereas in Isaiah 42:9, even in the domain of the future, a distinction was drawn between "the former things" and "new things," and it could be affirmed of the latter that they were not yet sprouting up. In the passage before us the entire work of God in the new time is called chădâshâh (new), and is placed in contrast with the ri'shōnōth, or occurrences of the olden time; so that as the first part of this new thing had already taken place (Isaiah 42:9), and there was only the last part still to come, it might very well be affirmed of the latter, that it was even now sprouting up (not already, which עתה may indeed also mean, but as in Isaiah 48:7). In connection with this, תדעוּה הלוא (a verbal form with the suffix, as in Jeremiah 13:17, with kametz in the syllable before the tone, as in Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 47:11, in pause) does not mean, "Will ye then not regard it," as Ewald, Umbreit, and others render it; but, "shall ye not, i.e., assuredly ye will, experience it." The substance of the chădâshâh (the new thing) is unfolded in Isaiah 43:19. It enfolds a rich fulness of wonders: אף affirming that, among other things, Jehovah will do this one very especially. He transforms the pathless, waterless desert, that His chosen one, the people of God, may be able to go through in safety, and without fainting. And the benefits of this miracle of divine grace reach the animal world as well, so that their joyful cries are an unconscious praise of Jehovah. (On the names of the animals, see Khler on Malachi 1:3.) In this we can recognise the prophet, who, as we have several times observed since chapter 11 (compare especially Isaiah 30:23-24; Isaiah 35:7), has not only a sympathizing heart for the woes of the human race, but also an open ear for the sighs of all creation. He knows that when the sufferings of the people of God shall be brought to an end, the sufferings of creation will also terminate; for humanity is the heart of the universe, and the people of God (understanding by this the people of God according to the Spirit) are the heart of humanity. In v. 21 the promise is brought to a general close: the people that (zū personal and relative, as in Isaiah 42:24)

(Note: The pointing connects עם־זוּ with makkeph, so that the rendering would be, "The people there I have formed for myself;" but according to our view, עם should be accented with yethib, and zū with munach. In just the same way, zū is connected with the previous noun as a demonstrative, by means of makkeph, in Exodus 15:13, Exodus 15:16; Psalm 9:16; Psalm 62:12; Psalm 142:4; Psalm 143:8, and by means of a subsidiary accent in Psalm 10:2; Psalm 12:8. The idea which underlies Isaiah 42:24 appears to be, "This is the retribution that we have met with from him."' But in none of these can we be bound by the punctuation.)

I have formed for myself will have richly to relate how I glorified myself in them.

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