Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 10 2019 - Isaiah 32:1-2; 35:1-10

Today we complete our first set of readings in Isaiah. We have looked at several of his prophecies which point forward to the day when God will send his Messiah – a king who will bring salvation to his people and blessing to all the world. Isaiah 32:1-2 describes what the reign of this king will be like. Many governments in this world are marked by corruption, injustice or just plain incompetence. The Messiah will reign in righteousness and those who have positions of leadership in his kingdom will exercise justice reflecting his own gracious rule.

Imagine what it is like to live in a hot, dry climate where winds often stir up sandstorms that make it difficult to see ahead or to move forwards. The Messiah and those who follow him will provide shelter from the wind and a place of refuge from the storm. They will be like life-giving streams of water in the desert and like a great standing rock that provides shade from the burning sun.

We who have come to trust in the Lord Jesus can readily identify with these pictures. Jesus is our refuge in whom we have come to take shelter. He is the one whose Spirit has supplied us with streams of living water. But these verses speak of how his people will then become the source of such blessings to others. Are we, the followers of the Lord Jesus, known as those to whom this weary storm-tossed world turns for refuge? How might we become such a people?

Isaiah 35:1-10 anticipates the latter part of Isaiah that we shall turn to later in the year. Isaiah has warned the people of Judah that if they continue in unfaithfulness then, like the northern kingdom of Israel, they too will be swept away into captivity. But God will not abandon them to captivity. After a period of chastening, he will return to them and will save them.

And that is what is pictured in this chapter. God will appear in glory to rescue his people from captivity. He will lead them through the desert and back to the Promised Land – as he had done years before in the time of Moses and the Exodus. A highway will be created on which God will go before his people, bringing them back to Zion with celebration and singing.

As we read this chapter, we recognise that this prophecy finds its fulfilment in the coming of the Lord Jesus. His arrival was heralded by John the Baptist who was, "A voice … calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord'." (Matthew 3:3). He is the Lord, come to give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, a voice to the dumb and to enable the lame to leap for joy like a deer. He came to give strength to trembling hands and courage to fearful hearts.  And he has created a way for us to return to the living God. He himself is that way; it has been opened to us through his atoning death and risen life. He calls us, his redeemed, to walk with him in the way of holiness until the day when we enter Zion with singing and everlasting joy will crown our heads.

Yes, Jesus fulfils this wonderful prophecy of Scripture and calls us to be strong and not to give in to fear. He who has redeemed us will protect us from all threats (35:9), and will bring us safe with him to glory. Furthermore, when he returns there will be perfect healing for his damaged creation. On that day we will have resurrection bodies made like his glorious body and the desert places of this world will burst into flower and abundant fertility. Eden will be restored.

Meanwhile we are called to walk with Christ in the way of holiness and, like John the Baptist, to call others to turn to the Lord in repentance and faith and to look with expectation to the day of his return, when all things shall be made new.

Father God, we thank you that you did not abandon us to the captivity of our sin and the prospect of death. Thank you that you came to us in the Lord Jesus to redeem us and to lead us back home to you. Fill us with joy and peace in believing and help us to follow Christ in the way of holiness and to call upon others to join our joyful procession on the king's highway to glory.

Peter Misselbrook