Today: [Isaiah 35] The Ransomed of the Lord Shall Return. In chapter 35 Isaiah encourages the people of God at a time when the Assyrians have overrun the land and Jerusalem is besieged. The prophet encourages the people not to give up hope. He calls upon them to strengthen themselves in their feeble condition to trust in God even when things look bleak. Do you ever despair of things looking differently in your life than they do today? Have your eyes fainted to see a difficult situation change according to God’s promise? We can find in the words of Isaiah not only what God did in centuries past to save ancient Jerusalem, but what He is doing right now in our heart lives as we look to Him and trust in Him in the darkest of times.
[Isa 35:1-10 KJV] 1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, [and] the excellency of our God. 3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. 4 Say to them [that are] of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come [with] vengeance, [even] God [with] a recompence; he will come and save you. 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then shall the lame [man] leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. 7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, [shall be] grass with reeds and rushes. 8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it [shall be] for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err [therein]. 9 No lion shall be there, nor [any] ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it 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 songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
After declaring the day of the Lord’s indignation in chapter 34, Isaiah describes the restoration of the people of God to blessing and benefit. This prophetic word had an immediate fulfillment when the Assyrian invasion was turned back and the reign of godly king Hezekiah replaced that of one of Judah’s greatest villains, king Ahaz. Is there any deeper meaning however to be found in this passage? Those who study the scriptures usually fall out on one side or the other in particular passages, saying that some passage must be interpreted literally and others must be interpreted figuratively. It is dangerous, some suggest to interpret a passage literally that must be interpreted figuratively and vice-versa. Therefore we are left in an interpretive quandary. How are we to know what passage we may read in the Old Testament that only has a historical application and which passages we may extrapolate as metaphor, type or shadow for the salvation that was for to come in Christ Jesus?
The apostle Paul understood this dilemma and addressed it directly. It was most necessary for him because before coming to Christ he was a staunch literalist in his thinking, even to the point of approving of the crucifixion of Jesus and endorsing the persecution of Christians who interpreted the Old Testament as a promise of a New Covenant in their supposed Messiah. After coming to Christ Paul came to the understanding that the Old Testament record constituted a message in metaphor, type and shadow intended for those of us in Christ on whom the ends of the age have come. It would be good for us then to memorized references to the legitimacy of reading the Old Testament as a complex message of types and shadows speaking to you and I today:
[1Co 10:11 KJV] 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Everything we read in the Old Testament is a foreshadowing of things revealed in Christ:
[Col 2:17 KJV] 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.
[Heb 10:1 KJV] 1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
[Heb 8:5 KJV] 5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, [that] thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
The narrative handed down to us in the Old Testament is prefiguring of the New Testament era in Christ applying more clearly and substantially to those in Christ than those involved in the actual history itself.
[Heb 9:9 KJV] 9 Which [was] a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
So we look at these verses and realize then that they are layered. Just as God is light and light can be rarified into 7 different colors with a prism, likewise there are levels of truth and understanding to be found in the scripture, literal, figurative and revelational understandings based on how the Holy Spirit applies the passage to you at the time. This is what Paul and king David of old called the “manifold” wisdom of God:
[Eph 3:10 KJV] 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
[Psa 104:24 KJV] 24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
Therefore, in the beginning of chapter 35 the wilderness spoken of is the wilderness not only in ancient Israel but the wilderness we find ourselves in life at times. How many times do believers speak of themselves as being in a “dry place” spiritually? Rejoice if you find yourself in this condition for Christ shall come and cause your desert to blossom abundantly as the verse says that you might break forth into singing with rejoicing and joy. Verse 3 tells us in the midst of difficult times to strength the weak hands and confirm our feeble knees because things are going to get better! When you are fearful in heart, be strong and of a good courage! Why? At the time there was an invading army filling the land and surrounding the city of Jerusalem. However God came through and in a short time the land was restored and the people free from all oppression under the blessed rule of king Hezekiah.
Sometimes you feel so weak in life’s circumstance that you want to cave in to the demands of the situation. The people in Isaiah’s day were faint and groping about for any harbor of safety. They were tempted to believe that Egypt and Ethiopia would save them. They were thinking through what a compromise with Assyria would look like if that was what it would take to survive as a nation. Isaiah was encouraging them to be strong – salvation was coming. How many times are you tempted to give in, to give up, to lean to the arm of flesh because you are despairing of waiting on an answer from God? The words of Isaiah speak to us over the span of 1000’s of years to put our trust in God and wait on His salvation.
In verse 5 Isaiah looks down through the lens of prophetic insight and sees the eyes of the blind opened and the feet of the lame restored in the ministry of Jesus. Many contend that these miracles never actually happened, or that perhaps they were only to confirm the reality of who Jesus was as Messiah but not to expect miracles in the day in which we live. To this the apostle Peter objects in 1 Peter 2:24:
[1Pe 2:24 KJV] 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
The weight of the spirit of unbelief in our day can be crushing to our faith. Even our own leaders often compromise the message of divine healing – unwilling to bear the reproach of a promise found in God’s word that they have not experienced in their own lives. The call of God is for us to follow Jesus and go out to Him outside the camp, believing His word whether we have experienced it in every instance or not. Let God’s word be true and every man a liar. He took stripes for our healing and the promise of Isaiah is that even those conditions that physicians cannot cure through faith in the name of Jesus we can have expectant hope for the miracle that changes the diagnosis from death to life.
Verse 8 speaks of a highway of holiness – a path of life that would be raised up in the last days that the wayfaring man though a fool would not err therein. We often face dilemmas in life when we don’t know what to do and too many times we make bad decisions and wind up in difficult situations. Pessimism says God will not help us out of circumstances we get ourselves in by our own foolishness. The word of God contradicts this in the declarations of Isaiah promising that though we make a foolish decision as long as we stay our hearts on God He will lead us out and bring us into a place of blessing. Verse 9 tells us that in the path God causes us to walk there will be no devouring lion. Why? Because that path is none other than Jesus Himself:
[Jhn 14:6 KJV] 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The path of God is not the path of religious principle but the person of Christ. It isn’t necessary for us to learn some convoluted system of spiritual / religious thinking or practice. Never allow yourself to come into the bondage of someone’s doctrine or system of thinking that they suggest is the only legitimate way to approach God and get answers. Your access to God is in the person of Christ and when you cried out to Him for salvation He became your all in all. His yoke is easy and His burden is light and He will in no way turn away those that come to Him in their time of need, whether it be great or small. When verse 10 tells us that the ransomed of the Lord shall return this is more than just those of Jewish ethnicity returning to the Middle East. This speaks of you and I in those times that we have strayed and made foolish choices and destructive decisions returning to God, ransomed from our error and established once again with songs, everlasting joy and gladness in that place of safety in Christ both in this life and that which is to come where sorrow and sighing flee away and give way to praise and rejoicing in Christ our deliverer.
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