Isaiah 35:1-7 – Here Is Your God--Who Restores All Things
SummaryWhen God comes, everything is transformed--all creatures, human beings, and the whole earth.
This chapter stands together with chapter 34 to form a bridge between the first and second parts of the book. Judgment of the wicked (chapter 34) and redemption of the faithful (chapter 35) are the goal of God's work in part one, and they provide the keynote for the new work of God in part two.
This text is marked by a poetic symmetry that corresponds to the perfection of God's redemption that it describes. The beginning and the end of the section portray the transformation of creation (vv. 1-2, 6b-7); within those verses, the prophet depicts the transformation of human beings (vv. 3-4a, 5-6a); and in the middle is the announcement that makes all this possible: "Here is your God" (v. 4). Thus the concentric structure is creation-people-God-people-creation.
God comes with vengeance only to rid the world of those who oppress the weak, the feeble, and the fearful (chapter 34), paving the way for the salvation of God's faithful ones.
This is another of Isaiah's texts that include the "environmental impact" of the work of God and human beings. On the one hand, human wickedness had dire consequences for the creation (chapter 34), but now God's redemption will allow not only people but also creation itself to thrive (chapter 35).
When God comes, God will strengthen hands, firm up knees, calm hearts, open eyes, unstop ears, free limbs, loosen tongues, and restore the creation. Everything that was closed up, shut down, and made desolate in the judgment announced in the first part of the book (6:9-13) is now opened up and made new. This is the "new thing" that God is up to in the second part of the book (43:19).
When John's disciples ask whether Jesus is "the one who is to come," Jesus refers to the events of this text as signs of the kingdom that Jesus is inaugurating with his deeds of healing and compassion (Matthew 11:2-6). This messianic interpretation of the text stands behind George Frideric Handel's use of it in the well-known alto recitative in his oratorio Messiah: "Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened." Indeed, many of the familiar words in Handel's oratorio are taken from the book of Isaiah.