A Day of Joy and Gladness

KEY VERSE: “The ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs.” —Isaiah 35:10

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 35:1-6, 8-10

THE prophecy under consideration today is another one of the many encouragements the Lord provided for the nation of Israel. The prophet was permitted to look down the corridor of time and see in symbol the promised kingdom of Messiah and write prophetically of its operation and blessings.

In verses one and two of the thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, there is a beautiful symbolic description of the nation of Israel and indeed also of the world of mankind coming back into harmony with God. The world is pictured as a desert, a dry and thirsty land. But when the Lord turns his favor to them in the kingdom there will be great rejoicing. A portion of the text reads, “It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.” (Isa. 35:2) The nature of the wording of the prophecy would also allow the description to be that of the land, which we know the Lord will cause to be fertile and productive, adding to the bountiful provisions of the kingdom.

In verse three the Lord exhorts the strong of the nation of Israel to encourage and support the weak, saying, “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees,” the thought being that in spite of the seeming hopelessness of their position, “your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.” (vs. 4) It is after Israel has been saved that the Lord will cause them to be blessed. “Then [emphasis is ours] the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.” (vs. 5) This thought seems to refer back to the sentence pronounced in Isaiah 6:10, that their eyes were to be shut, and their ears would hear but not discern as a punishment for their disobedience. But this condition will be reversed in the kingdom; the blindness will be removed and their ears will be unstopped so that they will be able, for the first time, to really discern God and his character. This blindness and deafness concerning the Lord also afflicts the balance of the human race; this, too, will be lifted in the kingdom. Jesus, in Matthew 11:4,5, referring to this part of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa. 35:5,6), applied it to his works of healing at his first advent. However, the miracles of Jesus, here literally predicted, were used to illustrate the power of God that would be effective in bringing blessings of healing, both mental and physical, to the world in the kingdom. And so we believe that this part of the prophecy has both a literal and spiritual application.

The prophet then proceeds to describe in very figurative language the operation of the kingdom. Verse eight reads, “An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” Rotherham translates the first part of the verse, “There shall be a raised way—even a high road and the highroad of holiness shall it be called.” This seems to picture the easy access that the Jews and the world of mankind will have to grow in righteousness. The human race, when they come back in the resurrection, will be free from Adamic condemnation but not just, and therefore the highway is for the purpose of bringing them to a condition of perfection, or justification. The only work that must be accomplished on the highway (through the operation of the New Covenant) is to write God’s law in their hearts, and this will be made feasible for all.

One of the reasons that attaining to righteousness and life will be possible for all in the kingdom is that Satan will be bound. (Rev. 20:2,3) The prophet expresses this fact in verse nine, “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.” Then the prophet continues with his description of the wonderful conditions that will exist in the kingdom, “The ransomed of the Lord [that is the whole world of mankind, including all who were in their graves] shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”—Isa. 35:10

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