Faithlife Sermons

Desert Flowers

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 19 views
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Desert flowers!

Isaiah 35

I was privileged to grow up in South Africa – and there are few spectacles as striking as the desert bursting into bloom  - the effect of millions of blooms suddenly bursting in colour in what was a featureless rocky landscape.

Like a great artist the prophet Isaiah starts with a canvas all rust and dull brown coloured, and then he places the brush and transforms the blankness and unpromising background with flowers and lush vegetation, with streams and a pathway. He will need every colour in his palette to describe the changes that God has promised for His people.

How often we seem to be surrounded by desert. How often our situation, or the way we perceive it makes us feel parched and unproductive.   God in his love always desires to change this to bring what the prophet Jeremiah calls: “Grace in the wilderness” [1]

As you look at the chapter you can see :

o       the landscape transformed (1,2)

o       the people encouraged,(3,4)  and then

o       themselves transformed,(5-7)  and

o       the great highway “The Way of Holiness” that takes the redeemed of the Lord to Zion in rejoicing.(8-10)

So this Advent morning I want to set before you this vision of the wilderness restored and challenge you to take the Lord’s word from Isaiah 35 and set off on the Highway of Holiness.

1.             The desert will bloom      vv 1,2

The desert and the parched land will be glad;

the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.

Like the crocus,2 it will burst into bloom;

it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.

The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,

the splendour of Carmel and Sharon;

they will see the glory of the Lord,

the splendour of our God.

God loves to transform.

From the very beginning it was so : 

Genesis 1 :

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. [2]

When He promised the Israelites the land He described it so:

Deuteronomy 11

11But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: 12A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.[3]

And ever since man sinned and called down on the earth a curse, God has been busy working out His purpose to rescue, to redeem, and to transform.

When the Lord looks at us he does not see a people whose lives are marked by great faith or great virtue, by glowing witness and certain confidence – he sees us as we are, but He is busy still to work out in us what pleases Him – to mark on us the image of His Son.

Very often these works of grace surprise us.  They are indeed like the bloom in the desert – seemingly out of place; undeserved but rich with the Creator’s palette.

2.  The lame will leap    vv 5-7

5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened

and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,

and the mute tongue shout for joy.

Water will gush forth in the wilderness

and streams in the desert.

7 The burning sand will become a pool,

the thirsty ground bubbling springs.

In the haunts where jackals once lay,

grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

It’s not just the environment that’s transformed. God intends to do something about the people – oh yes He does!

And I am looking forward to His workmanship on my behalf.  I have reasonable vision, but my hearing is not what it was, and sometimes I qualify for the description “lame”.

Notice how the prophet’s imagery intensifies

Eyes of blind opened

Lame leap like a deer

Mute tongue shout for joy

Water will gush forth

It will be then just as it was in Our Lord’s time:  “He has done all things well” 

Mark 7 37

37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”[4]

o       His work is always perfect

o       He changes us so that we not only speak but “shout for joy”

o       He not only issues water in the wilderness – but makes it “gush forth”

3.  A highway will be there…      vv 8-10

8 And a highway will be there;

it will be called the Way of Holiness.

The unclean will not journey on it;

it will be for those who walk in that Way;

wicked fools will not go about on it.

9 No lion will be there,

nor will any ferocious beast get up on it;

they will not be found there.

But only the redeemed will walk there,

10        and the ransomed of the Lord will return.

They will enter Zion with singing;

everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Gladness and joy will overtake them,

and sorrow and sighing will flee away.[5]

Once again the prophet moves up through the analogies:

A highway will be there

A protected way

The unclean will not journey on it;

it will be for those who walk in that Way;

wicked fools will not go about on it.

9 No lion will be there,

nor will any ferocious beast get up on it;

they will not be found there.

A privileged way

it will be for those who walk in that Way;

wicked fools will not go about on it.

But only the redeemed will walk there,

A musical way

10        and the ransomed of the Lord will return.

They will enter Zion with singing;

everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Gladness and joy will overtake them,

and sorrow and sighing will flee away.[6]

The Way of Holiness

Hebrews 10 20-23:

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.[7]

And, as he closes the passage, Isaiah needs a musical accompaniment :

10        and the ransomed of the Lord will return.

They will enter Zion with singing;

everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Gladness and joy will overtake them,

and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Revelation 15 2-4

and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God 3 and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb:

“Great and marvellous are your deeds,

Lord God Almighty.

Just and true are your ways,

King of the ages.

4 Who will not fear you, O Lord,

and bring glory to your name?

For you alone are holy.

All nations will come

and worship before you,

for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

So once again, Our Lord transforms the desert, transforms the pilgrims, sets them upon a pathway of privilege and protection, and brings them – with a sense of glorious destination – to Zion with singing!

How do we apply all this?   I expect you noticed the verses I left out so far:

4.  Be strong …          vv 3 & 4

3 Strengthen the feeble hands,

steady the knees that give way;

4 say to those with fearful hearts,

“Be strong, do not fear;

your God will come,

he will come with vengeance;

with divine retribution

he will come to save you.”

So does Isaiah apply the transforming work of God to our hearts with :

o       A command

o       An encouragement

o       A promise

We are not spectators of God’s transforming work but participants – Get involved!

A COMMAND

3 Strengthen the feeble hands,

steady the knees that give way;

Got any feeble hands, any unsteady knees?

Of course!

Strengthen them   …   steady them

| As Advent is upon us we are encouraged – and we are to encourage one another in the Lord. |

AN ENCOURAGEMENT

 

4 say to those with fearful hearts,

“Be strong, do not fear;

 

Got any fearful hearts?   Yes?

Encourage such   “Be strong, don’t be afraid”

Your God will come   … … and save you!

A PROMISE

 

your God will come,

he will come with vengeance;

with divine retribution

he will come to save you.”

The Lord comes!  – the Desert Flowers!


----

[1] 2Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.[1] Jer 31 v2

[2]The New International Version - Anglicised, (London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.) 1984.

[3]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[4]The New International Version - Anglicised, (London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.) 1984.

[5]The New International Version - Anglicised, (London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.) 1984.

[6]The New International Version - Anglicised, (London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.) 1984.

[7]The New International Version - Anglicised, (London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.) 1984.

Related Media
Related Sermons