Prayer: Come Lord Jesus and hear our prayer. Where there is sadness, You bring us joy. Where there is isolation, You bring us love. Where there are dried up ideas, You bring us creativity. Come Lord Jesus and hear our prayer. You strength us each day as we come before You reading Your word and saying our prayers. Come Lord Jesus. Come. Amen.
Read Isaiah 35: 1- 10
Isaiah 34 is a chapter of judgements against nations. The words of this chapter are dismal. The people are still in exile and getting discouraged. Then in Isaiah 35, there is hope and joy. Isaiah prophecies and tells people that there will be salvation for the people. Their exile will end and they will return to Jerusalem. They will return with joy and praise.
Isaiah writes that the desert and dried land will be glad and the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Everything that was dried out and used up will be renewed -- the forests will become like the cedar trees and forests of Lebanon. Lebanon was known for their cedar trees that grew to incredible heights (100 feet) and widths (6 feet). The trees were used to build the palace of David and the Temple of Solomon as well as ships and boats.
And through all these glorious gifts, the people will see and worship God. Their feeble hands will be strengthen so they can rebuild Jerusalem. Isaiah tells the people to be strong and do not fear for God will come and save them.
Physical disabilities will disappear (remember that for the Old Testament people, any physical disability was due to someone in their family sinning). The eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will hear, the lame will leap, those who can not talk will suddenly shout for joy.
Everything is renewed. The desert will have streams and pools bubbling with life. Flora and fauna will grow by these desert streams and pools.
And the highway (remember that one mentioned in Isaiah 40? It’s back again!) will be called the Way of Holiness. Only those who walk in the way of God will walk along the Way of Holiness. Any threat of wild animal will be eliminated. The redeemed will walk along the Way of Holiness. The ransomed of the LORD will return and they will all enter Jerusalem with singing and with complete joy. Sorrow and sadness will flee away.
What great images this portion of scripture are for the people who are presently living in exile and away from the place where they worship.
What great images do we have today of our Church – the place where people can come with great joy and singing and worship God? How do we bring joy and healing into our Churches so that all who enter may find the healing of God?
Prayer: Come Lord Jesus, and hear our prayer. In your Kingdom, O Lord, wolves lie down with lambs without fear. We pray for those who live in fear… those who are sick, the suffering, and those in distress. Come Lord Jesus and heal all injuries, comfort all grief, and settle all wrongs. In all things may Your will be done. Come Lord Jesus, and hear our prayer. Come O Living Christ and hear our prayers. Ever lasting King, restore us and show us the glorious light of Your love, that we might be saved. Come Lord Jesus. Amen.