Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes. (Isaiah 35:5-7)
The exiles returning from Babylon and elsewhere to Zion receive a pledge of hope in this text from the prophet. God is on the move again among the people, the devastating judgment that came with captivity will be made right through God’s grace.
Surprise!—All is being made new, correct, reclaimed. Captivity and desolation will be washed away.
Isaiah mixes environmental and human physical conditions that God promises to make right. Drought and aridness in Zion will give way to life-giving water and luxurious land while ailments that limit and damage the people will transform into a healthy, joyous world. How is all this to happen? “(God) will come and save you,” the immediately prior verse assures us.
Surprise!—Dysfunction and disability will be vanquished by the grace of God. Death and fear have met their match.
This promise foreshadows the coming ministry of Jesus who in Luke 7:22 cites his work among the people: “The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.”
Surprise!—God shows up among us in the form of the Son. We sing this Advent season, “From God’s heart the Savior speeds, back to God his pathway leads; out to vanquish death’s command, back to reign at God’s right hand.”
The Savior came and comes to us still. Thanks be to God.
God of abundance, teach us patience and hope as we care for all those in need as we await the coming of your Son, our Savior and Lord. Amen.