Summary: The analysis of the ransomed of the Lord as set forth in Isaiah 35:1-10 shows us that everlasting joy is coming to all who trust in him.
Today is the Third Sunday of Advent. I am preaching a series of messages during Advent on the Old Testament Scripture Readings that I am calling, “Advent in Isaiah.”
One commentator on Isaiah wrote the following on chapter 35, our text for today:
No one can call Isaiah a prophet of doom. At the slightest provocation, he becomes a poet and a songster when he sees what God has in store for his people. Each time he is compelled to prophesy the judgment of God, he follows with a picture of God’s redemptive purpose. As his oracles of punishment have deepened in severity, so his oracles of promise have soared to new heights. Therefore, after Isaiah’s gory revelation of God’s fury against the nations and Edom in chapter 34, we can expect poetry and song unmatched in his earlier prophecies of promise. Isaiah does not disappoint us. In his vision of the future transformation of Zion, all of his creative impulses are released in the text and tone of divine inspiration.
Isaiah 35 is a wonderful chapter that teaches us, in the words of The ESV Study Bible: “God’s word to all who trust him is that everlasting joy is coming.” This everlasting joy is coming to those who are described in Isaiah 35:10 as the ransomed of the Lord who shall return to Zion.
Let’s read about the ransomed of the Lord in Isaiah 35:1-10:
1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom
like the crocus;
2 it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
8 And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:1-10)
Isaiah is a marvelously contemporary book. Isaiah was ministering to people in his day who professed to have a relationship with God, but who were about to face God’s impending judgment, discipline, and banishment into exile.
Isaiah 34 is a chapter dealing with God’s universal judgment for sin. It is a sobering reminder of God’s holiness. Isaiah 35 provides the people of God with a wonderful hope, filled with joy, that is found in a right relationship with God. God’s people are called to be like him in holiness and righteousness. That process begins the moment the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us, but that is only the beginning. God’s purpose is to eradicate the sin in our lives and to restore us to paradise. It is a process that culminates in the beatific vision of God, that is, when we shall behold God face-to-face, and we live with him for all eternity in light of his beauty, glory, and grace.
C. S. Lewis put it this way:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right, and stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on: you knew that these jobs needed doing and you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably, and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but he is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself.