Three centuries ago, the New England pastor Jonathan Edwards wrote:
“Every atom in the universe is managed by Christ so as to be most to the advantage of the Christian, every particle of air or every ray of the sun; so that he in the other world, when he comes to see it, shall sit and enjoy all this vast inheritance with surprising, amazing joy.”
That surprising, amazing joy awaiting us is the whole point of Isaiah 35.
This passage is depicting Eden 2.0, creation restored. This dry, barren, mourning world will be rinsed clean. Ponder the imagery used throughout this chapter: a desert flourishing, the blind seeing, the wilderness bursting with streams and so on.
Which Universe Are You Swimming In?
The question for a 21st-century person upon engaging Isaiah 35 is not, “How do I apply this to my life?” That would be a trivialization of this text. When a sufferer of terminal cancer is told a cure has been found, they do not say, “Great—now, how do I apply this to my life?” They are going to live again. They are going to be restored. They immediately order their entire existence around that great anticipation.
With Isaiah 35 open before us, the question for us is, “Are we swimming in the mental and emotional universe of what God has told us our future is?”
Here is what God is saying to us through this text: If you are in Christ, one day you will find yourself on this earth, minus sin and disease and hospitals and medicine and alarm clocks and apologies and tears and resentment and dashed hopes and relational friction and inexplicable sadness and shame and boredom and mustered-up happiness. And you’ll find yourself in a transformed but fully physical body, unable to sin, at rest; feeling better physically than you ever could, even in your earthly prime; enjoying this earth as it was meant to be enjoyed—the food, the flowers, the mountains, the sunsets, the friendships, the uproarious laughter, the games, the songs, the smells, the basketball, the fishing, the knitting, the running, the learning, the conversations.
And, shot through everything and over everything and giving meaning to everything: the “everlasting joy” (v. 10), in God, that we were created for.