These are the new things of YHWH? Roads and rivers and dangerous creatures become those that honor God? How can such actions compare with the choice of Abraham and Sarah, not to mention the defeat of pharaoh and the salvation of a whole people? Yes, says Isaiah, these are the new things of God.
And there is where we can learn something for ourselves in these messy days of the 21st century. The God we worship and honor is always in the business of the new, and those new things may not at all be what we had in mind or hoped for. We too often want more of the same from God, another act of might, another parting of the waters, another messianic claim, a furious return in power for those who believe in the right way. But this God does not regularly act like that. This God is just as likely to call jackals and ostriches as God's witnesses, just as likely to be acting in desert places, just as likely to be choosing those we would not choose for any task at all. "Look! I am about to do a new thing!"
Do not get stuck with the former things only. What new thing might God be about today? You better get ready; it just might be something you or I have never thought of. The past is okay, but it can be a snare, a smokescreen for what God is doing now. The next time you pass through one desert or another, keep a sharp eye out for a river in a place you hardly imagined it might be — it could well be a new thing of God.