Isaiah 35:1-10 – Hope is Found

Read Isaiah 35:1-10

Chapters 34 and 35 are considered a match set. In our last reading we had judgment, and in this reading comes the hope. I’m also learning a lot about the literary style of Isaiah. I didn’t realize that scholars see a distinction between First Isaiah (Chapters 1-39) and Second Isaiah (Chapters 40-66). We’ve just read Chapters 34 and 35 which are usually considered a bridge between the two, and Chapters 36-39 are like a snapshot in history that we have yet to cover. I’m always fascinated to learn cool facts about the Bible and how it has been designed with such intention.

We have an intentional God. He has been known to allow certain things for those who love him, as we have seen, that have been less than enjoyable. We can look around our world today and see plenty of examples of that! The important thing for us to keep in mind is there is always hope on the other side of any trial or judgment. “There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God.” We see that time and again in Scripture. It just makes sense that it is a pattern we can trust as well.

If Chapters 34 and 35 are transition chapters, it explains why we are just seeing references to Edom for the first time in our last reading. Geographically, it is close to Judah to the south. You would have thought it would have been one of the nations singled out in Chapters 13-23. There are scholars who believe one possible interpretation is that Edom signifies all who are far from God and violate his will. That would help us in seeing the totality of the destruction and doom of judgment in our last reading.

Likewise, we could see the hope displayed in our reading today to represent the promise made to the faithful returning from Babylon. But couldn’t this Holy Highway be our path to restoration as well? “And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.” It’s like God is laying out the red carpet to us all, showing us the way to return to him. Prophecy is beautiful like that. It was meant to speak to one audience initially, but the message is timeless.

This passage is beautiful with is images of God’s kingdom where he will establish justice and destroy all evil. Creation itself is rejoicing. “Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!” If you’ve ever lived near a desert, you know the beauty that can blossom amidst the desolation with a little rain. You can also imagine the blossoms in spring after a winter of bare trees that look like they are dead. Rebirth and renewal is a sight to behold.

It’s important that we never lose sight of the promise of this beauty. When it feels like the world is crashing down around us, there is beauty to behold. Satan will do everything he can to play with our heads and make us believe the world is coming to an end. Even that, if we know Jesus, is nothing to fear. Living in eternity with Jesus should the world end tomorrow sounds pretty amazing to me. The vision of a future here is pretty comforting as well. “Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.”

What God is planning is what counts. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. How do we do that when the world is screaming at us? Let the words of Hebrews 12:2 wash over you today. “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

Let’s pray … Lord, I thank you for the hope that is found only in you. When the world seems to be closing in around me, I can feel scared and lost. I thank you that all I need to do is simply focus on you and let the promises of your word comfort me. There are so many things out of my control, help me remember to let go and let you rule my life. I trust that you are beside me no matter what. Thank you for your love and protection. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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