A Vision of Homecoming
God of the ages, I celebrate the truth that You are God of the present and of the future, too.
Read Isaiah 35:1-10
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The Lord never reduces his standards to match the weaknesses of his people; he raises his people to the height of his standards” (Alec Motyer).
Our recent readings in Matthew have referred to the fulfillment of Old Testament themes, including the Exodus. This beautiful poem is also based on the Exodus motif. It addresses the hope of return from exile, fulfilled through the coming of the Christ and the establishment of his Kingdom. The purpose of the poem is not so much to describe our final destination (10) but to encourage faith and hope on the journey, with the promise of God’s transforming power. It is to encourage “feeble hands” and “fearful hearts” with the promise of God’s salvation (3,4). Homecoming was guaranteed but not yet attained, as with the “already and not yet” of the Kingdom of Heaven. God’s promises are to transform us now, not merely to assure us that all will be well in the end.
The prophet portrays a highway–a causeway raised above the level of the desert. It is a moral causeway, a highway of holiness that the unclean don’t use. Our Christian pilgrimage may be fraught with dangers, but predators cannot get up to this causeway, and those who walk on it are safe from harm (9). Safety does not come from timid cries for help, but from taking hold of the help God has already promised, and walking in his ways. Christians are not called to claim theoretical moral superiority. Rather we are called to live the faith we claim to believe, and to let it show.
There is a danger of being over-literal with poetic themes, but as “the redeemed” (9) journey home, the wilderness through which they travel is being transformed. His people recognize this as “the glory of the Lord” and “the splendor of our God” (2). Anticipations of the new creation are evident in the old, if we can see them.
What evidences of the new creation can you discern? Thank God for the signs around you that you see.
Sovereign Lord, I thank You for the concluding year and trust You for the new year to come.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.