This week my friend Jonathan finished our series in Daniel in the morning and I took the evening talk from Isaiah 35
On the one hand Isaiah is prophesying of a time when the exiles will return to Jerusalem following a period of captivity but it could also be said that he is speaking of a glorious future restoration for the people of God.
Five headings today
- Abundance instead of desert
- Strength instead of weakness
- Sight instead of blindness
- Travel instead of captivity
- Joy instead of sorrow
Abundance instead of desert – verses 1-2
• A desert is not a impossible for God. In ancient times deserts were great barriers that were difficult to cross and were usually avoided.
• God is not content with a desert. Creation has been subjected to frustration.
• God can turn a desert into a garden. The barren lifeless desert can become a place of beauty and refreshment.
• God is going to change the ecosystem. Just as in the chapter 11 where animals both predator and prey lie down together, the way the planet works will be changed by divine intervention.
• Creation itself will rejoice one day (Romans 8:18-22)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
• God can make deserts bloom in our lives. We often have parts of our lives that we consider barren and lifeless. We know the Lord could change them but we often doubt that he actually will. It could be something for which you have prayed for many years or a personal struggle. God can make our deserts bloom.
• God’s glory and splendour will be seen. Even in the desert god will be glorified.
Strength instead of weakness – verses 3-4
• Hands for working and serving
• Knees for praying and walking
• Be strong, do not fear, your God will come. The answer to those feelings of inadequacy is to look to God
• Get moving. The picture is of a person who is wasting away through lack of movement.
• This verse is quoted in Hebrews in relation to discipline (Hebrews 12:11-13)
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
Sight instead of blindness – verses 5-7
• Often Isaiah uses blindness and deafness as a metaphor (Isaiah 6:9-10, 29:9-12). A person can be spiritually blind or spiritually deaf. They cannot see or hear the truth.
• One day this spiritual sight will be restored (Isaiah 29:18)
• Isaiah also speaks of one who would come and open the eyes of the blind (Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4:16-21). Jesus after publically reading this passage proclaimed that it was fulfilled in him.
• When John the Baptist had doubts, Jesus when seems to picture passages like this in his response. (Luke 7:22)
“So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”
• Where Jesus is present, eyes will be opened
Travel instead of captivity – verses 8-9
• In ancient times no one built roads through deserts it would have been pointless
• Through God a high-way is found, literally a road raised above its surroundings.
• A way of holiness
• Without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). Only by grasping something of God’s awesome holiness can we begin to appreciate who he is.
• Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6, Hebrews 10:20)
• The road is for the redeemed
• The road is safe; there are no lions or ferocious beasts on the road. In the UK we take safe roads for granted, after hearing Ray and Anne on Wednesday, it’s clear that dangerous animals are still a threat in some parts of the world and they certainly were in Isaiah’s time.
Joy instead of sorrow – verse 10
• The way of holiness leads to Zion, the City of God.
• Sometimes knowing doctrine is not enough, we have to sing. To know something intellectually is one thing but if we really know it then it just has to be expressed. Our salvation is surely something to sing about.
• There will be no more tears, sorrow and sighing will flee away.
“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.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
• Gladness and joy will overtake them. Like a many wave, the joy of heaven will sweep over the redeemed
There are questions that spring from this chapter; are you on the road? Are you moving? Do you have the joy of the redeemed?