“Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God,” [Luke 9:68]
Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy, [Psalm 33:2-3].
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day, [Psalm 96:1-2].
“Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations,” [Psalm 98:1-2]
“I will sing a new song to you, O God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,” [Psalm 144:9]
“Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp. For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds,” [Psalm 149:1-5]
“Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth,” [Isaiah 42:10]
"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more,”
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.",” [Revelation 21:1-5]
Twenty years ago, shortly after I had rededicated my life to Jesus, some truly wondrous and supernatural things occurred in my life. At that time, I was tempted to look back at all the mistakes I had made and all the time I had lost. I’ll never forget what Mark Wilkinson told me at the time: “You can’t look back, you can only look forward now. And the most difficult and necessary thing that you need to do right now… is to forgive yourself.” I am still learning the lesson that the past needs to be the past. We need to heal from the past and forgive and be forgiven –we have to allow God’s grace to work powerfully in us and through us. And as the old hymn, Just as I Am, states, there’s “no turning back, no turning back.”
God makes all things new. In fact, the Word of God repeatedly reminds us to look ahead to what God is going to do and forget about this world that is passing away, as a shadow disappears when light appears and radiates through everything. We do not forget the good that God has done, but we allow God to cast our sins as far as the east is from the west, we allow Him to throw our sins into the Sea of Unknowing. He is making us new. I think this is why the Scriptures tell us so many times to “sing a new song,” because God really does make things new, and as He is the Awesome Creator, our rebirth in Christ inspires us to create because we have been recreated in His image. We sing new songs to Him because there really aren’t enough songs in the world to praise Him enough! Worship begins in the heart as the desire of the worshipper, and the grateful and joyous heart says, “Let’s sing more! Let’s sing every way that we can! Let’s sing a new song!” I find it interesting (as a lover of the ancient Hebrew language) that the words “Sing to LORD a new song” are actually stated in the form of a command (the word “sing” is in the form of an intensive imperative). It is imperative that the church of Jesus Christ focuses on the Lord God who makes all things new. Our Message is new. The former things are passing away, the reality that we are becoming is found in Christ. And this is where the church needs to be very careful.
I read the words found in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah when the Israelites had finally emerged from a curse that expelled them from the land of Israel for being stubborn and rebellious for many centuries. The Babylonians had completely destroyed Jerusalem, including the Temple of God that Solomon had built. But now the time had finally come; they were about to receive God’s blessing again and had been allowed to return to their land. Jerusalem was being rebuilt. In Nehemiah 8:9 we read these words: “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, "This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep." But when the work on the new temple had begun, there were some still alive who remembered the glory of the temple that Solomon had built. The greatest rejoicing began when the new foundation for the new temple was being put in place, but some in the crowd didn’t rejoice; they were looking back rather than forward [Ezra 3:10-13]. They were more focused on what they had lost rather than what God was doing at the moment. They missed the point; they were looking back rather than forward. However, the rejoicing was so great that mourning and weeping was drowned out by the joy and praise being sent up to God. God was creating things new but some were so focused on themselves and their past that they couldn’t participate in the joy of what God was truly doing. Being a Christian is truly about becoming the new creation, not being held prisoner by the past. I’m sure this is why Jesus sternly warns Christians to look forward, not back [Luke 9:68].
Through the years, I was often tempted to look back at the wondrous things God did in my life twenty years ago. I used to think, “I wish I could recapture how I felt back then.” I found myself being quite nostalgic about what was rather than what is happening now. It’s easy to do. But following Jesus isn’t about nostalgia, and I can’t allow the past to become an idol. We are challenged by the Spirit and the Word to ever look forward –the past is gone. And rather than try to go back, we now push forward. Life and grace are here now, and if we’re not careful, we could completely miss what God is trying to do now by mourning over the past. God makes all things new, and we should have an “all things new” perspective of life.
Sing to the LORD a new song, Sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Love in Jesus,