I am polishing off the last of a delicious coffee my chum Ben Yelovich got me whilst in Africa – and, uh, yeah. It’s pretty prodigious.
Something else I have been absolutely feasting on recently is Isaiah 35, and I am just bursting at the seams to share it with you! So go ahead and grab your cuppa Joe, and let’s dive in together:
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.”
Still with me so far? Take another sip from your poison of choice to make sure you’re wide awake, because I really want to focus on the next two-thirds of the chapter, beginning in verse 5:
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return.
They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Let me help you wrap your mind around the stunning prose we just read. God was declaring through a man named Isaiah about a future time when incredible blessing will come to pass. That future time, as outlined in verses 3 and 4, is when God comes to officially save His people once and for all. And we know that happened through the death and resurrection of Jesus! God saved His people from the ugliness that is death and sin, and with the coming of Christ, He ushered in His Kingdom — a Kingdom of technicolor life and deep, belly laughter and cheerful forgiveness between mankind!
Yes, while this Kingdom is a distant paradise to be realized in its totality at the end of time, it is also a here-and-now Kingdom (Matthew 3:2, 4:17, 10:17, 12:28 — and that’s just Matthew!). I would even suggest that the good news of the Kingdom of God was (is) Jesus’ primary message (see Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14, Mark 1:15, Luke 4:43, 8:1, 9:2, 9:11, 9:60, 10:9, 11:2, and 12:31, to name a few). You can look up each verse if you want to, but I intentionally found numerous explicit verses to prove that Jesus came to present to us His Father’s Kingdom and welcome us back into it.
So! Part of the reason I love this Isaiah passage is because I feel it describes the look and feel of this glorious Kingdom, and here are 3 aspects of this here-and-now Kingdom that we can draw from Isaiah 35.
1. The here-and-now Kingdom brings physical health.
Verses 5-6 emphasize that with the coming of Jesus’ Kingdom, we will see healing for those that need it! It reminds me of 2 Samuel 5:8, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter [King David’s] palace.” This verse could almost be a prototype for the ‘palace’ or Kingdom of David’s descendant King Jesus — there should simply be no physical ailment plaguing those who are part of the Kingdom! I’ve met people, Christians even, who have lived with some sort of physical disability for so long that it has nearly become part of their identity. Friend, God wants to give you a new identity!
I’ve personally seen outrageous physical healing happen for people, and God has even used me to participate in that physical healing. Legs growing, tumors deflating, lungs restoring, pain subsiding, backs straightening — I’ve seen a lot in the last six months. I firmly and passionately believe that where Jesus is, there is power for freedom from physical deficiencies! That curse from darkness does not belong on those in the Kingdom!
2. The here-and-now Kingdom brings refreshing provision.
There is no lack in Heaven, and Jesus taught us to pray for the Kingdom of Heaven to manifest here on earth (Luke 11:2). Therefore, when the Kingdom comes, its citizens never experience lack. In fact, we experience the opposite: we experience abundance — and refreshing abundance at that. Look at it in verses 6-7: “Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sands will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.”
Where there once was a scorching desert, Jesus brings a lush oasis. Where there once was forgotten emptiness, Jesus brings the choicest of plump, juicy fruits. Where there once was a thirsty wasteland, Jesus brings a refreshing stream of crystal-clear water. Because in Jesus’ Kingdom, there is always refreshing provision!
3. The here-and-now Kingdom brings everlasting joy.
This extravagant Scripture ends with singing, gladness, and joy! In fact, Isaiah records that joy will chase after people, pounce on them, and drive the sorrow away! Bring it on!
It’s very, very sneaky of the devil to normalize depression like he’s trying to do in our American culture. I have even read comments and watched clips on social media posted by ministers that attempt to normalize anxiety, fear, and depression — even in the lives of believers. What? I respect the viewpoint of those in the medical field who might propose that depression and anxiety are conditions or unbalances to be treated with medication. And I wholeheartedly and sensitively believe that anyone suffering under the grip of depression or anxiety ought not feel shame about it. But let’s not reduce the standard of the Word of God or underestimate the power of God: joy is normal for the believer, and it is a natural fruit that grows in someone who is filled with the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22). I’ll say it again — joy is the standard for the faith-filled Christian! And that is a major distinction between the world and God’s Kingdom… even though we may endure a trial or tragedy, we can still behave and respond from a place of deep-rooted joy.
Maybe you’re reading this, and you are experiencing the opposite of what God’s Word describes. Maybe you do have a physical disability. Maybe you are struggling through a season of lack. Maybe you don’t feel like you’re wearing a crown of everlasting joy. It’s tempting to lower the standard of God’s Word down to match our experiences. If we’re not careful, we may start building a theology, forming a personal standard, based on the foundation of our present circumstances instead of on the foundation of Truth. But, friend, if you have built a reality for yourself based on anything other than the standard the Bible presents, it is faulty, misleading, and ultimately destructive.
And if that’s you, then read my next sentence carefully and prayerfully. Jesus wants to redefine your normal. Yes! Jesus has wonderful, wonderful things in store for you! Oh, His love for you, friend, is so magnanimous and so strong! He has not forgotten about you! He thinks about you all the time, and every single thought is how He can prosper you (not harm you)!
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you identify lies that you may have started believing somewhere along the way. And when the devil sneakily whispers that lie to you again, resist him! Run from the lies and run into the Truth! Run into Jesus, our Defender and our Protector and our Shield! He will heal you, He will refresh you with provision, and He will crown you with joy. That’s the standard of His Kingdom — the standard of His love.
Thank You, Jesus!