Thursday, October 31, 2019

Isaiah 35


Isaiah 35:5-6 (ESV)
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;

These verses were referenced by Jesus when John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Mt 11:3). He told John’s disciples to go back and tell John, “The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (Mt 11:5). Jesus isn’t directly quoting Is 35, but he is certainly referring to it.

What do you speak to a people facing devastation and captivity? You speak hope. It is interesting that American Evangelicalism doesn’t really know what to do with hope. We sing, “My hope is built nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” We talk about hope. Our aches and pains as we age cause the joy of Heaven to look better and better. Yet, we often act as though our real hope is in the government, Democracy, and the Constitution. Let’s be honest, that is misplaced hope at best, and possibly idolatry. Living in relative ease, comfort, and freedom our hope is too often built on America. When our freedoms are threatened slightly we panic.


Contrast that to a group of believers who have never known our freedoms, yet they live in hope. They are attracted to hope like a magnet to iron. Those in ease tend to focus on their pain. Those in pain tend to focus on their hope. Just look at some of the old Negro Spirituals. They are filled with hope even though they were written and sung by slaves. In Isaiah 35 God’s people are facing destruction, devastation, and captivity. But God gives them hope. There will be a day when the dangers of life are gone. There will be a day when the lame will walk, the blind will see, and the deaf will hear. There will be a day when there is a highway of holiness that even the fools don’t wander off and the lions don’t threaten (see Is 35:8-9). There is hope.


When our hope rests on manmade, earthly stuff like governments, prosperity, and power, we face loss. When our hope is found in Christ alone we find real hope. There will be a day when pain is gone, oppression is done away with, and God’s peace reigns. “The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (Mt 11:5). Here is the interesting thing. Jesus says that that day is already here. It’s coming, but it’s here. Where Jesus is, there is peace. Our hope is in Him.


Whatever we are facing, there is hope. For those who live in relative safety and health, there is a hope that goes beyond your comfort. For those who live in hopelessness, there is hope that goes beyond your pain. Helen H. Lemmel wrote these words in 1922. They still stand true today:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

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