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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Larsen

What Is the Paradise Isaiah 35 Promises Us?

Imagine this with me: you’re hiking through the desert. The hot sun is beating down on you, sweat drips off your brow. You reach for your bottle of water, but you forgot to bring it. As you push yourself forward, your feet begin to ache.  Your ill-fitting shoes are causing a blister, making you wince with every step.  Sunburn is now making your skin heated and sore to the touch.  You pray for a cool breeze and just a drip of water for your dry tongue. You wonder if you’ll survive this treacherous hike. Will this be the end?

Just then, an unexpected fellow hiker jaunts up beside you and delivers a water bottle! Just in time, you think, I never would’ve made it another yard.  You drink and drink, but then your savior points out a stream of natural, cool, refreshing water!  You jump into it, gulp it into your mouth, savoring the wonderful healing it provides to your body, soul and mind!

Okay, this is somewhat dramatic, but bear with me; I’m a fiction writer! This scene is me when I reached Isaiah chapter 35 in my Bible journey.  The Book of Isaiah is placed more than halfway through the Old Testament. In my Bible it started on page 639. Isaiah is one of the most prolific prophets in the Old Testament and his book lasts sixty-six chapters of predictions for the people of Israel. The vast majority of the prophecies were negative, torturous, scary.

And then … like the sun rising over a dark land, comes Isaiah 35!

Henry H. Halley describes it, in his book, Halley’s Bible Handbook: "One of the greatest chapters in the Bible. A poem of rare and superb beauty. It presents a picture of the last times, when the redeemed, after long suffering, finally shine forth in all the radiance of their heavenly glory.”

Isaiah 35 is the longed-for oasis in that trek through the hot thirsty desert. Not just a gulp of water for a dried throat, but a pool of clean refreshing water! Let me share some of my favorite parts:

"The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. (vs 1).  They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. (vs 2).  Say to those with feeble hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with a vengeance; he will come to save you.” (vs 4).  A highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way.  The unclean will not journey on it." (vs 8)

All kinds of physical maladies that we suffer on earth will be cured in this new time and place: 

"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way. 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." (vs 3, 5-6)

It goes on to describe the water gushing forth, the burning sand becoming a pool, and only the holy will journey through the land.  No violence will exist, no wickedness or foolishness.  No sorrow or tears.

Only everlasting joy.

Wow! It’s exciting. It brings us hope that whatever we’re dealing with here and now in this imperfect world, is temporary. For the people who love God, we have a peek at what is coming.

But … when?  And where?  What exactly is Isaiah describing in his prophecy?

Of course, there is a great deal of commentary written about this chapter of Isaiah. But I’d like to propose that Isaiah, who my Chronological Bible tells me wrote this section between 740 and 686 BC was describing the very same post-judgement earth that the disciple John describes in his Book of Revelation chapter 22:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing … fruit. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and … his servants will see his face. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” (vs 1 – 5 – written in the mid 60’s through the mid 90’s AD).

Of course, we don’t know when we’ll be living in this Paradise.  And people of God have differing opinions about who will be there, and how we will get there. Sometimes God’s ways are a mystery. But why don’t we just focus on the fact that sometime, somehow, Paradise will be there for those of us who believe. And meanwhile, when we feel like we are in the middle of that hot trek across the desert without water, wondering how much longer we’ll survive, we can pick up these written accounts at any time and gain hope from them. It will be a glorious time and place when God decides he’s ready and I treasure in my heart his invitation to us to join him there.

Meanwhile, we can get a tiny taste of paradise right here on earth.  What are those activities or times in your life when you experience everlasting joy? Holding your new baby or grandbaby close to your face and whispering words of love.  Jumping into a cool pool on a hot day or floating in the calm waves of an ocean. Surrounding yourself with people with like interests and engaging in the things you love – a concert, a theatrical production, a football game, a worship service.  Whatever defines everlasting joy to you, seek out those opportunities as often as you can and give a moment’s thought to: is this what Paradise will be like?

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for giving us a glimpse of what your heavenly kingdom will be like some day, when in your timing, you are ready to offer it to us. Keep us diligent and faithful in this life to serve you and others and share love and joy. Use us and our skills to do the work of the kingdom here on earth.  Amen.







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