The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. — Isaiah 35:1
Years ago, I drove through the Anza-Borrego Desert in the southeastern corner of California. As the largest desert state park in the United States, the park covers more than 600,000 acres. It is framed by many rugged mountain ranges, and the more than 500 miles of roads in the park wind through rocky hills, deep sand, canyons, and desert badlands.
In the midst of one desolate patch of terrain, I was amazed to see a tall cactus ablaze in lovely pink blooms. Although it had been one hundred degrees that day and for many previous days, the cactus looked healthy. Given its desert location, it had clearly also been subjected to the environmental stresses of low and unpredictable precipitation, harsh winds, and low nutrient availability. Still, the cactus was blossoming. In fact, it almost seemed to be rejoicing in the Lord with its outstretched arms, bursting with flowers, reaching up toward the heavens.
In our focus verse, the prophet Isaiah speaks of the Millennial Kingdom of the coming Messiah. At that time, the climate of wrath, fury, judgment and destruction which will have prevailed during the Tribulation will be reversed, and the land and the people dwelling in it will be blessed. What a beautiful picture of the final Kingdom in which God will reign supreme!
The promise in this verse also holds a message for us today. We may look around us and see “desolate terrain.” Perhaps the road we travel seems rugged, and our surroundings harsh. It may be that the canyons ahead look deep and fearsome. Or we may feel that we are standing alone in a solitary place. Whatever our circumstances, if we are serving the Lord and following His leading, we can blossom like the desert cactus. We can project loveliness in any environment. Our beauty, which stems from being rooted deeply in God’s love, will flourish. We too will rejoice like the desert the prophet Isaiah spoke about!
Chapters 34 and 35 provide contrasting views of the final destiny of the wicked and the righteous. They make up one prophecy of Isaiah; chapter 34 speaks of final judgment while chapter 35 speaks of final redemption. After the horrific devastation predicted in chapter 34, the prophet turns to a message of hope for the future.
The remnant are comforted with the thought that God would one day subdue their enemies and liberate the people. Isaiah’s prophecy also contains a message to the redeemed through the ages concerning the Millennial Kingdom, a time when the Prince of Peace will rule and reign on the earth. This hope comforts the hearts of God’s people in the midst of oppression.
The reference to the blooming desert pointed to the dramatic transformation that will take place when the Lord establishes His Millennial Kingdom. Sin will be done away with. The earth will be freed from the curse. Nature will exist in the splendor God originally endowed, and creation itself will rejoice in the Lord. The locations listed in verse 2 — Sharon, Carmel, and Lebanon — were three of the most resplendent places in the world, and yet even they would not compare with the grandeur of God’s new Kingdom.
In verses 3-4, an exhortation was given to the weak and sad-hearted. They were to be encouraged, because the Lord had promised to one day take vengeance on their enemies, and recompense the sorrows of the redeemed. They were to look forward to the Messiah’s Kingdom, when there will be an end to physical infirmities.
Isaiah also mentioned that, in the Millennial Kingdom, there will be a highway called “The Way of Holiness.” On this road the redeemed will travel annually to Jerusalem, singing praises to the Lord. It will be a time of peace and joy for the righteous. Those who have mourned will at last be comforted. Isaiah’s message must have given great comfort to the Jews who were at that time experiencing tribulation and dark times. Isaiah pointed to the future time of the Messiah’s Kingdom when all roads will be safe to travel, and there will be no threat from enemies. In that day, there will be no fear, and God’s people will experience endless peace, joy, and blessing.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
F. Prophecies relating to world destruction and blessing
2. The advent of Messiah’s Kingdom (35:1-10)
a. The renewal of physical blessings (35:1-7)
b. The return of the remnant (35:8-10)
Although we may currently face tribulations and sufferings in our daily Christian walk, we can stand out for the Lord and flourish like a rose in the desert. We can also eagerly anticipate the Millennial Reign of Christ, when peace will reign and sorrows will be no more.