A Desert that is Transformed into a Garden
Isaiah 35 (READ)
The interpretation of this text has several possibilities. No doubt, this text has reference to national Israel at the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation period. I believe that it could be further expanded to include all the nations of the world when Jesus comes again to destroy His enemies and to establish His millennial kingdom. At His coming, the earth will be like a barren desert, and a depopulated wilderness wasteland because of the fierceness of the wrath of God that will have been poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. But when Jesus comes again, He is going to transform the whole earth into one big paradise, like the garden of Eden before the fall of Adam and Eve.
There are also clear references in this passage to the first advent of Christ, and to His miracles of healing and blessings of eternal life through the power of the gospel.
This morning, we want to apply this passage to a manís life, which I believe can be compared to a desolate wilderness, and a barren desert. We will notice three thoughts this morning. These thoughts will include: 1) first, the desert compared to a manís life; 2) secondly, the condition of the inhabitants of the desert; 3) and thirdly, the desert transformed into a beautiful garden.
1. First, we want to notice the desert compared to a manís life.
The desert, you might say, is a cursed place. All menís lives are cursed because of Adamís sin back in the garden of Eden. Adam was put out of that beautiful garden, and all men thenceforth were made to dwell in the wilderness.
The desert is dry and parched from the heat of the burning sun. There is no water flowing from the Spirit of God, and there are no sweet blessings springing forth from the Word of God in manís desert, but it is dry and parched.
The desert is a barren and fruitless place, and few good things naturally grow their. There is no fruit of the Spirit, and no fruit of eternal life in manís desert.
The desert is occupied by ravenous beasts, which are enemies of menís souls. There are dragons and deadly serpents, which as a horde of demons from hell, seek to destroy and damn menís souls. These are creatures of darkness and of the night, and they attack men, and slay them in their sleep. And there is a lion, which goeth about seeking whom he may devour.
The desert brings forth thorns and briars. Out of the manís barren stony heart, they bring forth the thorns and briars of sin and shame.
The desert has a natural beauty. There are the formations of rocks and dunes. Like the desert, the natural form of man reflects the beauty of his Creator, as he was created in His image. There are flowers that bloom in the desert. Likewise there is a natural beauty and goodness in man. But like the desert flowers, his beauty and his goodness, soon fade away, and all that remains are the thorns and briars of a life ruined by sin.
The desert is a lonely place. Menís lives with all their social graces, and superficial happiness, sooner or later end in loneliness, and wanting for fellowship with God in their soul.
The desert is a vast wilderness, that seems to have no bounds. It is impossible to escape without help. So men cannot escape the desert of their lives.
The desert is a place of sure death to all its human occupants. So men are bound to sure eternal death without the help of God.
There is no sure way or road in the desert, but its roads are erased away by the shifting sands. So men have no way out of their spiritual desert. All roads of humanism, and philosophy, and religion, can never lead men out, but all lead to death.
2. Secondly, we want to notice the condition of the inhabitants of the desert.
The inhabitants of the desert bear the marks of living in a cursed land.
They have weak hands (vs. 3). Hands represent work, and a manís ability to do work. Without his hands there is not much that a man can do, either for himself or for others. So the inhabitants of the desert, have weak hands. They cannot work for God. There is nothing they can do for God to please Him.
They have feeble knees (vs. 3). A manís knees and legs represent strength. They enable him to stand and to fight his enemies. They represent strength for overcoming adversity. So the inhabitants of the desert have no strength. They cannot fight the enemies of their souls. They cannot defend themselves against the horde of unclean, demonic fiends of darkness. They cannot overcome the curse, or prevail against death that treads upon their heels. But sooner or later they must all succumb in weakness to the power of their great enemy.
They are fearful in heart (vs. 4). A manís courage controls his will to live and to seek for a way out of his soulís condition. But the inhabitants of the desert have no courage. They have faint and fearful hearts, and therefore, they have no will power to seek their way out of the desert, and from the powers of death.
They are blind (vs. 5). A manís eyes are his windows to the world, to see the light of day, and the way of life. The eyes also represent understanding of knowledge and wisdom. By spiritual understanding a man may find his way to life eternal. But the man of the desert is blind. He is blind to the spiritual world. He cannot see the kingdom of God. He is blind to the glory of the gospel. He cannot see of understand the way of life, nor can he see the purpose of the cross of Calvary.
They are deaf (vs. 5). A manís ears are able to receive truth and knowledge. Through his ears he can learn about his dreadful plight. He can hear the warning cries of the ensuing danger. He can hear and learn the way to safety and life eternal. But the inhabitants of the desert are deaf. All the warning cries of wrath to come, and all the words of gospel wisdom, cannot penetrate their stopped up ears. But they just pass by wisdomís cry, none the wiser.
They are lame (vs. 6). A man who is lame cannot walk or move himself. He is not only weak and feeble in his knees, but he is completely lame, and unable to move. The inhabitants of the desert are spiritually lame. They cannot walk or move at all. They cannot move toward salvation in Christ, just like the man at the pool of Bethesda, who could not move toward the place of healing.
They are mute (vs. 6). With his tongue a man can ask and seek after help. He can cry for mercy and grace. With his tongue he can thank and praise his Creator and God. But the inhabitants of the desert are spiritually mute. They cannot ask and seek God for help. They cannot cry out for mercy. They do not employ their tongues to thank god and praise His Name, because he is spiritually dumb.
Thus is the condition of the inhabitants of the desert. Thus is the condition of all men by nature, who spiritually are all men of the desert.
3. Thirdly we want to notice the desert transformed into a beautiful garden.
We have painted a bleak picture of a natural manís life, and of his inability to help save, himself.
But there is hope. Thank God, beloved, there is hope for the inhabitants of the spiritual desert.
This hope, beloved, lies in the sovereign mercy and grace of God, when He showers upon our desert with His blessed Holy Spirit in regeneration and conversion. When He sends the refreshing gospel shower that pours into our soul, and by faith we receive all the virtues of the cross of Jesus. When by faith we come to see Jesus dying of the cross for our sins, being buried in the tomb, and on the third day rising again from the dead to justify us from all our sins and give us eternal life.
By faith we receive the wonderful cleansing flood that washes away all our sins and guilt, and sprinkles our heart from an evil conscience and washes our lives with the pure water of the Word of God. At last our conscience is purged of dead works to serve the living God.
When the showers of Godís grace fall upon the sinnerís desert, there is a wonderful transformation that takes place.
Letís notice some of the beautiful changes that take place at the entrance of Godís grace.
The desert rejoices with joy and singing. Where once there were moans and sighs from the anguish of sin, there are songs of joy and praise for the Lordís salvation.
The desert blossoms like a rose. The drear and dismal landscape of life blossoms into one of richest beauty and the sweet fragrance of Godís grace. The glory of Lebanon springs forth out of the desert. Instead of barren ground, it shall bring forth the mighty and beautiful cedars of Lebanon, which is an evident sign of Godís power and favor in oneís life.
The desert sands become the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. Instead of parched sand and stone, it shall be transformed into the dark, rich earth of Carmel and Sharon. And instead of thorns and briars, it shall bring forth fruit unto everlasting life.
The weak hands shall be made strong to work and to serve the Lord.
The feeble knees shall be strengthened and they will stand strong for the Lord. With new courage they will fight that good fight of faith.
Their hearts shall also receive new strength, and perfect love will cast out old fears, for they will know that God saved them from all their enemies.
Their eyes will be opened to see the gospel, and to see the salvation of the Lord.
Their ears will be unstopped. They will hear the gospel with the hearing of faith and shall believe unto the saving of their soul. They shall hear and understand with their heart, all the glorious truths of Godís Word, and grow thereby in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.
Their lame spirits shall be healed, and they will jump for joy, and serve the Lord with gladness.
Their tongues shall be loosed, and they will shout and praise the Lord with joy. And they will use their tongues to tell the world what Jesus did for them.
Rivers of waters will break out in the midst of their desert. The parched ground of their old stony hearts will become a pool of water of the Word of God, and springs of eternal life will spring up out of their bellies. By the waters will grow the green grass for spiritual rest, and nourishment. Instead of thorns and briars will be reeds and rushes, signifying the overflowing spiritual blessings of God in their lives.
All the wild beasts will be put out of the transformed life. The lion and the dragon, and all ravenous beasts will loose their power to hurt and to kill the converted soul.
And in the midst of this transformed garden of the converted life, there is a new highway, which is called the way of holiness. Upon this road shall the converted soul travel through his new life with Christ. It is a holy road, and one of godliness and serving Jesus. It is not a road for unclean sinners, but for those who would be holy as God is holy.
Upon this road shall the ransomed sinner return all the way unto the Lord. This road shall lead the converted soul all the way to Zion, which is the very presence of God.
Is your life still a desert, and under the curse of Godís wrath?
If so, repent even now, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; that He died for you, was buried, and rose again the third day for you.
If you truly believe this gospel, then the Lord will transform your life into a beautiful garden that will be filled with His richest blessings. A life that will be filled with His joy and praises.
You will know the love of God and the protection from all the enemies of your soul.
And He will put you on the highway of holiness, which highway will lead you all the way into Heavenís glory, into the very presence of God for all eternity.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive His gift of eternal life.