Hope in the Wilderness

Thomas Rauter

The wilderness and the dry land will be glad; the desert will rejoice and blossom like a wildflower. It will blossom abundantly and will also rejoice with joy and singing. 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 weak hands, steady the shaking knees! Say to the cowardly: “Be strong; do not fear! Here is your God; vengeance is coming. God’s retribution is coming; he will save you.”

Isaiah 35:1-4

Have you ever visited Israel? Visitors to the modern nation marvel at how the Israelis have transformed some of the most arid and desolate regions of their country into highly productive agricultural land. Restoration of a land laid waste is the theme of Isaiah’s prophecy in verses 1-4 of Chapter 35. It’s a foreshadowing of the Messiah who will bring us hope in the wilderness of our desolate spiritual landscape.

The Messiah is Coming!

Bible scholars have long recognized Isaiah 35 as Messianic prophecy written 700 years before the first Christmas. In the first four verses, the prophet describes the coming of the Messiah as a life-giving, joyful, glorious event. He personifies nature, saying the desert “will be glad” and “will rejoice and blossom like a wildflower” at His advent. The land “will also rejoice with joy and singing.”

Isaiah reminds his people that their land will see “the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.” Echoing the words of the Lord to Joshua (Joshua 1:6-7, 9, and 18), Isaiah urges his people, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God!”

Our Hope in the Wilderness

The vivid imagery of Isaiah’s prophecy presents a word picture of what occurs when the rebellious human heart responds to the gospel. Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, has come to save not only the Jews but anyone and everyone willing to trust in Him as Savior. The saving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is proof of God’s grace – His unmerited favor making a personal relationship with Him possible for every human being.

Jesus is unique. He has come to make the sin-parched aridness of our souls “rejoice and blossom like a wildflower.” While other religions claim to offer ways to find God, the Bible asserts that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, has come to find us. He is Immanuel – God with us. Isaiah assures us today, “Here is your God!” and “He will save you!” Jesus is our only hope in the wilderness of sin.

Writing in the early 18th century, Bible scholar and commentator Matthew Henry commented on Isaiah 35:1-4. “Converting grace makes the soul that was a wilderness to rejoice with joy and singing and to blossom abundantly. . . The more we see by faith of the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God, the more joyful and the more fruitful shall we be.”

What Now?

Take a moment to assess your own life in light of Isaiah’s prophetic words. Is your life like a desert—dry, arid, unfruitful, and devoid of abundant life? The Messiah, the One whose coming Isaiah foretold, can transform your life and bring you joy and fulfillment. Jesus, offers you an invitation to follow Him. Will you accept His “converting grace” and seek Him in the pages of the Bible? Jesus fulfills the two-fold prophecy of Isaiah: “Here is your God” and “He will save you!”