What does it say?

Isaiah 35 offers a stark and welcome contrast. The previous chapter ended with God turning the world into a desert. Here, God turns the desert into a garden. This is a chapter of hope and salvation.

The first half of Isaiah concludes with an historical section (Isa 36-39), written in prose. To this point the majority of the book has been in poetic form. Here (Isa 36), Sennacherib of Assyria has conquered much of Judah and his army is poised to take Jerusalem. His representative Rabshakeh stands before King Hezekiah at exactly the same place (36:2) where his father Ahaz met with Isaiah (7:3) and refused to trust God. Fearful of Syria, Ahaz looked to Assyria for help even though Isaiah warned him that Syria would soon cease to exist and the real threat would be Assyria. This historical section is parallel to 2Kings 18-20.

What does it mean?

Just as the Book of Woes concluded with scenes of judgment that stretched far into the future, the hope of Isaiah 35 is more than immediate. This is a millennial scene looking forward to the Second Coming of Christ. Even the order is important, first judgment, then blessing. This matches the promise of Genesis 12:1-3, cursing those who curse Abraham, but then blessing all in Abraham.

The very precise location descriptions of Isaiah 7:3 and 36:2 are significant. When we fear someone or something other than God, especially to the point of scheming and manipulating to protect ourselves rather than trust God, we are in danger. We will often stand face-to-face with that we fear most at the very point where we refuse to put our trust in God. In the case of Ahaz, sadly it is his son that reaps the full consequences of his lack of faith. However, it is here where Hezekiah experiences his greatest moment of faith and is blessed and delivered by God.

How will I respond?

Is there a point of fear in my life that tempts me to take matters into my own hands and not trust God? Even if I manage to escape immediate danger, how will my lack of faith affect those I love the most? Right now I will take appropriate measure to put my trust in God for that I fear the most.