The Desert Shall Blossom as the Rose

“The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”
—Isaiah 35:1

AMONG THE BEST known and most beautiful prophecies in the Bible is the thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah. It starts with the sentiments of our theme text, though encompassing more than the desert alone. It begins, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 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.”—vss. 1,2

Whenever we witness the gorgeous growth of vegetation we marvel at the great power of God that makes it possible. We know that several elements must be brought together to make such growth possible. These are sun, water, air and earth (with nutrients). These must be in perfect balance. When one alone predominates, the result is a desert, devoid of all vegetation. Such is the case (for example) when there is an abundance of sun and air, but no water or nutrients in the soil.


There are huge areas of such wasteland on earth. The largest of these is the Sahara desert in Africa. In Asia there are the Gobi, the Kara Kum, and Krzyl-Kum deserts. Deserts are found in northwest India, South Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Arabia. Although Europe has no desert, there are semiarid regions in the vicinity of the Black and Caspian Seas. The second largest desert in the world is in the outback of Australia, especially in the central and western areas. South America also has deserts on the coast and interior of Chili, and east of the Andes in Argentina and Patagonia. In North America, deserts are located in northern Mexico and extend through parts of the southwest and western United States. Extreme desert conditions exist in the Mojave and Death Valley areas of California.

Hot deserts comprise one-fifth of the earth’s available land. Equally considered as wasteland are the cold deserts where low temperatures and a perpetual snow cover make them unavailable for plant growth. The cold desert comprises about one-sixth of the land surface. All together, over one-third of the earth’s land surface is devoid of vegetation. God has promised a remarkable change to occur in these desert areas as an indication of his favor being restored to mankind. Evidences as to how he might do this have appeared in our day which is a preparatory time for his kingdom.


An article appeared in the “Los Angeles Times” on October 8, 2000, which described one of these evidences. The article discussed the work of Cadiz’s Sun World Unit in the Mojave Desert in California. It said: “To airline passengers cruising over the Mojave Desert, the farms in Cadiz seem to appear from out of nowhere, an unexpected checkerboard of green painted on the dusty no-man’s-land off historic Route 66.

“On the ground, these checkerboards are actually thousands of acres of farmland, row after row of citrus trees, peach trees, and trailing grape vines that produce hundreds of thousands of boxes of fruit a year when crops elsewhere are still ripening or are long gone.

“Its owner, Santa Monica-based water resources firm, Cadiz, Inc., is hoping to duplicate this agricultural marvel and turn a parched corner of the Egyptian desert into another Coachella Valley, supplying Europe with juicy citrus and jumbo Muscat grapes out of season.

“While most California growers are still struggling to get their fruit into international markets, Cadiz and its farming unit, Sun World International, have discovered a lucrative niche helping growers across the globe plant their own grapes, plums, and citrus.

“In Egypt, Sun World is being paid to design a massive drip irrigation system for one of the world’s largest farms, and to plant its own patented crops. If everything goes smoothly, it will earn an ownership stake in this phase of Egypt President Hosni Mubarak’s Toshka project, which at 100,000 acres is five times the size of Sun World’s California farming operations.

“Between Toshka and the deals Sun World is cutting to license its fancy patented crops overseas, it is well on the way to becoming a global farmer with enough reach to insulate itself from crop price plunges due to weather or oversupply. ‘They’re smoothing out the seasonal ups and downs of the [agriculture] business,’ said Debra Coy, a water analyst with Schwab Capital Markets in Washington.

“And, analysts say, with Toshka, they are paving the way for more arid farming projects in places such as the Middle East.”


The article continued, describing the business aspects of this new technology. The investment of Cadiz, Inc., in drip irrigation equipment and land has caused it to struggle to turn a profit even though it grows and ships 14 million boxes of fruit each year from the Sun World division. The company was formed in 1983 after the founder identified an aquifer (an underground source of water) in the Mojave Desert. It spent several years acquiring land around the aquifer, and has negotiated with Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District to supply water from the aquifer and to store water from the Colorado River in the aquifer when supplies are plentiful. So it is evident that the desert cannot blossom as the rose unless water is available somehow, somewhere, and can be brought to the farm area.

The successful project that Cadiz, Inc. has developed in the Mojave Desert with the farms of Sun World is not so much the fulfillment of Isaiah 35:1 as it is a preliminary demonstration of what God will do in his kingdom. He is using man to demonstrate successful farming in the desert by the combination of an available water supply and drip irrigation.

It was difficult for Cadiz, Inc. to do this. They first started as a water resources corporation. Earlier, Sun World, a fruit packer, started operations in 1976 to sell patented specialty fruit. It spent tens of millions of dollars in research and development of varieties of fruit by crossbreeding, such as seedless watermelons and seedless grapes. Their products were so much in demand that other growers rushed in to compete with their own products and these specialty fruits became commodity items in the market place. Sun World went into bankruptcy and was taken over by Cadiz, Inc.

Sun World farms in the Mojave Desert are still burdened with high interest charges, which keep them in the red. For example, their earnings were 22 million dollars on 115 million dollars of revenue. But after interest charges, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, they ended up with a 3.5 million dollar loss. Most of their expenses of development and high interest charges are behind them, and by careful selection of specialty fruits that can sell at a higher price, they hope to begin becoming profitable.


Sun World is looking at higher priced specialty fruits selling at a premium in Europe. The output from the drip irrigation project in the Egyptian desert is expected to sell easily on that continent. Water will be brought forty miles from Lake Nassar to the desert farms by an aqueduct, now under construction. Planting may start next year.


How is God likely to make the desert ‘blossom as the rose’? One way is to change weather patterns so that water is delivered to these desert sites as rain from heaven. Our Lord Jesus gave a demonstration of this method when, to the utter amazement of the disciples, he rebuked the winds and the sea, demonstrating complete control of the elements controlling weather.—Matt. 8:23-27; 14:23-33

The two most productive growing areas for all kinds of agricultural products in the United States are the states of Florida and California. Both have ample sun and air. Florida depends on regular rainfall for water, and has many underground aquifers. California has very little rainfall during the major growing season, but in the winter the snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains becomes a most remarkable storage area for water in its solid form. As the summer months come, this snow melts and runs down into the valleys, into reservoirs and lakes, to be used for irrigation.

We would expect that weather pattern changes are likely to be the major method for delivery of water to desert farms. There may be huge aquifers in these regions—one has been identified in the Sahara—which can be tapped and used for drip irrigation as in the example of Sun World farms in the Mojave Desert. Whatever the means used by God to accomplish this miracle, we know that the results will be glorious.


Isaiah’s prophecy foretells the glory of these deserts, which will be like the “glory of Lebanon.” (Isa. 35:2) Lebanon is a mountain range area, which can store water in solid form as snow. This is mentioned in Jeremiah 18:14. In between the mountains is a valley, rich in agricultural products. The cedars of Lebanon appear often in the Scriptures, and this fine wood was used in building Solomon’s Temple in Israel. (I Kings 5:6) Also, many beautiful plants grow in the valley. The region is known as Hermon and is mentioned in Psalm 133:3 in the phrase as the “dew of Hermon.” The glory of Lebanon, therefore, includes water that makes strong trees to grow, and supplies irrigation for the crops of Hermon.

This change on the face of the earth is described as “the excellency of Carmel and Sharon.” (vs. 2) Carmel is at the foot of Mt. Carmel, and one writer in describing it, said, “its surface is covered with a rich and constant verdure.” Green plants grow there all the time. There are three areas called Sharon in the Bible, but many believe that it mostly refers to the level region adjacent to Lydda. It is that broad, rich tract of land which lies between the mountains of the central part of Palestine and the Mediterranean. Again, the glory consists of rich agricultural products.


The thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah is especially known, not only for this prophecy of the desert blooming as a rose, but also the wonderful conditions that will be established for the work of God’s kingdom. First, evil must be subdued. This task will be the mission of the church, and her Lord.

Will the church be able to combat the evil tendencies in the world? Yes, because Satan will be bound for a thousand years that he shall deceive the nations no more till the thousand years shall have been fulfilled. (Rev. 20:3) During those years the Savior’s mission as the “Sun of Righteousness,” will be to bless mankind with “healing” in his wings. (Mal. 4:2) The church is to have a share with him in the blessing of the world. This is not a new proposition God has made. This was God’s plan and purpose before the foundation of the world. This is the Gospel, or good tidings, first declared to Abraham, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”—Gen. 12:3

God intended to bless all the members of the human race—all races and kindreds and tongues—and purposed that the blessing should come to them through the seed of Abraham. The Jewish nation was merely the typical seed; the antitypical seed is the Christ—Jesus, the Head, and the church, his body. (Gal. 3:16,29) The world must wait for its blessing until the church shall have been completed, and shall have passed beyond the veil to sit with Christ in his throne.

The blessing, which will attend the work of the Christ, cannot begin until the church is complete. Then every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, and the knowledge of God shall fill the whole earth. (Phil. 2:10,11; Hab. 2:14) God has provided that as all died in Adam; so all are to be revivified—brought back to the privilege of attaining everlasting life, through the merit of Christ’s sacrifice. The attainment of everlasting life will depend upon the manner in which the privilege is used. None will be coerced or compelled.

The majority of mankind today have respect for righteousness. If its rewards were sure, unquestionably they would prefer to do right. Many say that they have been almost forced to do evil. Only a very few are willing to renounce sin and to walk in the narrow way of obedience and self-sacrifice. Those who do so in this Gospel Age are to have a very special reward, and others who love righteousness and hate iniquity will, under the rule of Christ’s kingdom, have every assistance given without compulsion. They will receive cooperation in their endeavors for righteousness. The Scriptures declare that as death was the original penalty of sin in Adam’s case, so it will always be the penalty for sin. (Ezek. 18:4). Whoever, during the future age, sins willfully shall die the second death, from which there will be no resurrection, no redemption, no hope of recovery.


Before sin had entered into the world, the Divine provision of a perfect environment for our first parents was the Garden of Eden. The future, as described by the Word of God, will be paradise (garden) restored. The entire earth will be made beautiful, fruitful, sinless, and happy. Conditions will be ideal, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain,” for the former things (of sin and death) will have passed away, and all things will have been made new!—Rev. 21:4,5

The Apostle Peter speaks of these glorious “times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:21) In God’s due time, the earth is to be brought to the perfection he primarily designed for it, as illustrated in the Garden of Eden. That time is near at hand and the promised blessings are assured. The irrigation systems with water supplied by aquifers and by aqueducts are fulfillments of the prophecies pertaining to preparation of the blessing of the earth! “In the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”—Isa. 35:6,1

After God had created various orders of spirit beings, he made man, “a little lower than the angels.” (Ps. 8:5) The human race began with Adam and Eve, who had ability to grasp and appreciate the Divine provisions, as the animal creation cannot. The fact that sin resulted through Satan’s crafty deceit and brought Father Adam under the sentence of death did not signify that the Heavenly Father had changed his arrangement. The purpose which he had in the beginning has never changed.

We can see the reason why the entire earth was not made immediately into an Eden; namely, God intended to give man a trial, foreseeing that man would sin. He created Eden perfect, but allowed the remainder of the earth to continue in an unfinished condition. Furthermore, God said to Adam after he sinned, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.”—Gen. 3:17-19


God could have made the entire earth perfect as easily as he ‘planted’ the little Garden of Eden. But he foresaw that if the earth were perfected, the death-struggle would be longer, and the degradation of man greater. The cursed earth has been a factor in preventing mankind from committing greater iniquity. The sentence, ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,’ was evidently intended as a blessing, teaching man lessons of experience through battling with the earth for his living. As the Creator said to the man regarding the curse of the earth, it was ‘for thy [man’s] sake.’ So man has learned that “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23) The Heavenly Father has not, however changed his plan. When the kingdom is set up, the earth shall yield her increase; and God assures us, “I will make the place of my feet glorious.”—Isa. 60:13

One of the signs of the approach of God’s kingdom is that knowledge shall be increased. (Dan. 12:4) Some of this has been in horticulture. What beautiful fruits and flowers have followed as a result! It is difficult to imagine anything nearer perfection either in Eden of old, or the worldwide Eden soon to be established! In referring to the ‘times of restitution,’ the prophet declares that “Then shall the earth yield her increase.” (Ps. 67:6) We have been seeing preparations for the fulfillment of this promise. Why has the earth not been already made glorious? God is allowing man to propagate first and to learn the results of sin by experience. The angels have been learning the lesson of sin by observation.


God is selecting the church in the present Gospel Age. When the church is completed, mankind will have an opportunity to learn the lesson of righteousness. This uplifting time is marked out in the Scriptures as ‘times of restitution’—the restoration of that which was lost. Since that which was lost was human perfection, and Edenic bliss, mankind will receive earthly, rather than heavenly, blessings. God’s will shall be accomplished. The earth will be brought to perfection during the thousand years of Messiah’s reign. The most important piece of restitution work, however, relates to man. The hard, stony selfishness of heart, which is worldwide, is to be eliminated and Godlikeness is to be restored.


Nearly two thousand years of preaching show that the cure for man’s inhumanity to man is not now in our power. Only a few desire to seek for the Lord’s spirit of gentleness and tenderheartedness.

The great King of Glory is also the Good Physician. He alone can cure the disease of sin and its results. Through him God’s promise to Israel will be fulfilled, “I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:26) This work will proceed from Israel to all the families of the earth, uplifting all the willing and obedient out of sin and death to all that was lost in Eden and redeemed at Calvary. The beautiful promises of Isaiah 35 will be fulfilled. The perfected earth will abide forever for the glorious ransomed man.


God purposed to make a New Creation and will complete that work when the glorified church is associated with her Lord in the Divine nature, far above principalities and powers and every name that is named. Thus, eventually, the Scriptures state, “Every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and such as are in the sea” will be heard saying, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Rev. 5:13) Thus the Lord will gather together all the faithful, both in heaven and in earth, under the headship of Christ, whose head is Jehovah.—Eph. 1:10

Dawn Bible Students Association
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