The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord , the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. – Isaiah 35:1-10
The book of Isaiah, and my schedule at the moment, are conspiring to make my walk on water more challenging. For some reason the month of October is always like Velcro for my time and schedule. Everything seems to happen in this month. As a result I am finding it more challenging to “get on the water” as regularly as I would like. I am sure God knows this and is willing to grant me some grace. I am back on the water today though so lets hit the water and see where God leads.
I am continually surprised by the prophetic content of Isaiah. This passage contains an amazing reflection of Him, the kernel of the Gospel here in the old testament: “your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” What does “divine retribution” mean? Did Jesus come for “divine retribution”? I am not sure. Perhaps Jesus came with divine reconciliation? Perhaps they are not so different.
Reconciliation implies a restoration of relationship, whereas retribution for me implies giving someone what they have coming for some wrong they have committed. Now that I have defined these terms I guess divine reconciliation and divine retribution from God’s perspective may not mean such different things. God’s “retribution” was accomplished through a divine act of reconciliation for a life of rejection by the people of Israel, and by modern God followers.
The passage continues to describe this divine reconciliation when it states that at the coming of the savior “the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy”. This sounds very much like the young man from Galilee who gave sight to the blind and made the lame walk. Jesus himself was the Water that “will gush forth in the wilderness” and form “streams in the desert”. The living water on earth to quench our thirsty souls.
The passage continues with language straight out of the new testament: “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way”. As a follower of “the Way” of Jesus I have chosen this highway. I am on the road. That does not mean that there will not be detours and difficult times like the last few weeks where life just gets complicated, confusing, and hard.
Following “the Way” does not require that we are expert hikers or navigators. It requires only that that we acknowledge that we have been redeemed and rescued, for “only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued”. This is reassuring, especially at times when I feel like I am wandering in the wilderness desperately in need of water. God delights in providing those who would be rescued with hidden wells and ever flowing streams in the desert.
Prayer: God thank You for coming to redeem and rescue us. Help us to drink deeply of the living water that You offer here in the desert.