In my last post, I reflected on the sobering truth from Isaiah 34 regarding God’s coming judgment. This week, my devotional study in Isaiah moved me to the next chapter—Isaiah 35. What a contrast! Isaiah sings a joyful song about the physical return and spiritual restoration of God’s people. Here we see the bright side of the Day of the Lord. While it is true this Day is one of vengeance and recompense, it’s also a day of deliverance and gladness for God’s people.
In this joy-filled chapter, we see creation renewed; the desert blossoms into a lush, well-watered meadow. Jewish exiles stream homeward, singing the praises of the God who has intervened to save them. They walk “the Way of Holiness” with eyes wide open to God’s goodness and ears attentive to His voice. They come home to Zion “with singing, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads” (35:10).
Isaiah 35 is a short chapter—only ten verses. I’d encourage you to open a Bible and read it yourself. Here are three truths about God and two personal applications I took away from my study of the chapter.
Three Truths about Our God
The Lord will one Day renew creation, making it both stunning and safe. When the Day of the Lord comes, creation will rejoice. The desert will blossom (35:1), displaying the glory of God (35:2). Having been subjected to frustration because of human sin, the creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the sons of God (Rom 8:19-23). Harmony between animals and people will be restored (Gen 2:19-20; Isa 11:6). As Psalm 96 anticipates, “all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth” (96:12-13).
The Lord can restore the health (physical and spiritual) of his broken people. Isaiah speaks of the blind regaining their sight, the deaf recovering their hearing, the lame springing to their feet, and the mute singing for joy (35:4). While these words can be read literally to speak of physical restoration, they should also be understood as a metaphor of renewed spiritual health and vitality. The Lord had previously indicted his people for being spiritually deaf and blind (6:9). The same accusation is repeated later in the book (42:18). In Isaiah 35 we read the glorious news that God can and will heal the spiritual maladies of his hard-hearted people. He is the Great Physician who heals all our diseases—physically and spiritually (Psalm 103:3).
The Lord will redeem His people and bring them home with eternal joy. As there was a first exodus from Egypt, so there will be another exodus and home coming for Israel’s exiles. This time, they will stream home through the wilderness from Babylon (Isa 40:1-5; see also Ezra and Nehemiah). These homecomings anticipate the final, ultimate exodus when the Lord brings His people (“strangers and exiles”—1 Pet 1:1-2) to their eternal home, the new Jerusalem (Rev 21-22). Then, at last and forever, God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of his people. Then, there will be no more crying or sorrow or death (Rev 21:4). Then, we will be in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6).
Two Personal Applications
Confidence in God’s coming salvation inspires strength and stability in present. The good news that the Lord will come to save His people is the basis for the call to “Be strong; fear not (35:4). Since I believe God’s promise, I can strengthen my weak hands, firm up my feeble knees, and still my anxious heart. God’s final salvation, which will bring us home to the new Jerusalem on a renewed earth (Rev 21-22), is foreshadowed by the many smaller rescues we experience on the journey home as we walk the Way of Holiness. I want to move forward on the highway of holiness, confident my God is a God who saves His people.
To walk in God’s way is to walk in holiness—now and forever. The way through the wilderness to God’s restored homeland is called “the Way of Holiness” (35:8). It is the way set apart for those who walk with God towards the City He has prepared. Walking in holiness involves living with my eyes open and my ears attentive to the Lord (35:5). It also entails walking with joy, rejoicing in the God who saves and the salvation His brings (35:10). Lord, keep my feet on this path.