Prepare to listen. Light 2 purple and pink candles and pray: ‘Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.’
Prayerfully Read Isaiah 35:1-7
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
Verse 4 (Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.') forms the center of this poem (10 lines before and after). If ever we needed to hear its message, it’s today. We live in a culture of fear. Political candidates build on our fears in order to get our vote; advertisers use fear to sell their goods. Many Americans oppose gun restrictions because they fear being vulnerable to an unknown assailant.
And so, to you who are of a fearful heart (which is pretty much all of us), I say, ‘Be strong, do not fear!’
Before and after this command are beautiful pictures of a fully restored creation. The wilderness, dry land and desert (vv 1-2) will become streams, pools, lush reeds and rushes (vv 6b-7). The weak hands and feeble knees (v 3), the blind, deaf and lame (v 5) will be healed and restored as God will come with vengeance and recompense. Vengeance has a positive side, God righting wrong, bringing order to chaos, healing the sick and infirm, restoring life to its rightful order.
To look beyond today’s fears, take a moment and ‘Behold your God’ because God is here, in our midst. Use the eyes of your heart and see God in our messy, fearful world right now.
What makes you fearful today? Practice throughout the day looking beyond your fears so you can behold our God.
Respond to Jesus
Lord God you are present, in the midst of my fears and troubles. May I behold you today and walk with confidence and hope. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world and behold your God.