Isaiah sees the restoration and healing that God will bring to Israel when he comes as Messiah. The prophecies in this chapter were partially fulfilled in Jesus' first coming, and will be completed at his second coming.
In this chapter, Isaiah sees the restoration and healing that God will bring to Israel when he comes as Messiah. The prophecies in this chapter were partially fulfilled in Jesus' first coming, and will be completed at his second coming.

Verses 1 to 2 describe the beautiful transformation of Israel's desert areas and of the rift valley of the Jordan bursting into bloom. These are the areas in which John the Baptist ministered and baptised to prepare the way for Jesus' coming. They will receive the glory of Lebanon (presumably meaning they will resemble its beautiful cedar forests) and the splendour of Carmel (the majestic mountain range in northern Israel) and Sharon (Israel's lush Mediterranean coastal plain). Verse 2 says "they will see the grandeur of the Lord". This was partially fulfilled when Jesus came to this area to be baptised by John, although the transformation of the land awaits his second coming. Then as it says in Habakkuk 2:14 "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (KJV).

Verses 3 to 4 are an encouragement to the weak and fearful among the people of Israel, assuring them that God will come. He will come to avenge and deliver them, with divine retribution against Israel's enemies. These are characteristics of Jesus's second coming.

Verses 5 to 7 describe Jesus' healing ministry to the blind, the deaf, the lame and the mute. Israel tasted of this ministry at his first coming, but will see the fullness of it at his second coming. At the last trumpet, Jesus' followers will be resurrected and raptured, receiving glorified and perfectly healed immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). And after the people of Israel return to faith and recognise Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10), they will experience Jesus' continued healing ministry (Isaiah 29:18) in the age to come. This healing ministry will not just be for people, but also for the land. Water will flow in the desert, and dry soil become pools of water, bringing about the agricultural bloom described in verses 1 to 2.

According to Matthew 11, when John the Baptist was in prison he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?" Earlier, when John baptised Jesus, he affirmed him as Israel's promised Messiah (John 1:29-31). But now that John was in prison, and things were not turning out quite as John had expected, he seems to have doubted. In his response, Jesus pointed John to the fulfilment of verses 5 and 6, here in Isaiah 35. "Go tell John what you hear and see: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them – and blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me!" By pointing to his fulfilment of verses 5 and 6, Jesus is assuring John that the rest of this chapter will follow, when he will bring full deliverance and restoration to Israel.

Verses 8 to 10 describe a thoroughfare called the Way of Holiness that God's redeemed will travel along to return to Jerusalem, amidst great rejoicing. It will be a safe road to travel, and only God's redeemed people will travel along it (v9). Although some scholars might interpret this figuratively, it is mentioned elsewhere (Isaiah 11:15-16, 19:23 and alluded to in 27:13). As such, I believe it will be a literal highway that will run from Jerusalem to Assyria in one direction and Egypt in the other. After Jesus' second coming, it will facilitate the return of all twelve tribes to Israel and Jerusalem. The route to Assyria will aid the return of the ten northern tribes, and the route to Egypt will aid the return of Judah and Benjamin. God's people will be overwhelmed with gladness and joy as they enter Zion (v10).
Places: Zion, Jerusalem, Israel
Tags: First and second comings, Highway of Holiness, Physical healing, Healing of the land, Day of vengeance, Restoration of Israel, Return of exiles to Israel, Millennium, Jesus delivers his people, Transformation
The Land and Its People Are Transformed
35 Let the wilderness and desert be happy; let the arid rift valley rejoice and bloom like a lily!
2 Let it richly bloom; let it rejoice and shout with delight! It is given the grandeur of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the grandeur of the Lord, the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the hands that have gone limp, steady the knees that shake!
4 Tell those who panic, “Be strong! Do not fear! Look, your God comes to avenge! With divine retribution he comes to deliver you.”
5 Then blind eyes will open, deaf ears will hear.
6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, the mute tongue will shout for joy; for water will burst forth in the wilderness, streams in the arid rift valley.
7 The dry soil will become a pool of water, the parched ground springs of water. Where jackals once lived and sprawled out, grass, reeds, and papyrus will grow.
8 A thoroughfare will be there – it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it; it is reserved for those authorized to use it – fools will not stray into it.
9 No lions will be there, no ferocious wild animals will be on it – they will not be found there. Those delivered from bondage will travel on it,
10 those whom the Lord has ransomed will return that way. They will enter Zion with a happy shout. Unending joy will crown them,
happiness and joy will overwhelm them; grief and suffering will disappear.