Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

Zion Admits No Disappointment

From Alec Motyeer’s translation of Isaiah, chapter thirty-five, verses one through ten — “a protected path, assured arrival, safe home-coming and unbroken happiness” for the people of God:

          A transformed world, a promise to ‘them’
The wilderness and the parched land will be glad of them
and oh may the arid plain exult and bloom like an asphodel,
burst into bloom,
and exult, yes, with exultation and loud shouting!
The very glory of Lebanon has been appointed for it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
They themselves see the glory of Yahweh,
the splendour of our God.
          Fortitude: the Lord is coming
Strengthen the listless hands,
and make firm the unsteady knees.
Say to those whose hearts are racing,
‘Be strong,
do not be afraid.
Behold! Your God!
With vengeance he will come,
with divine retribution.
He will himself come and save you.’
          Salvation and renewal
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
and the ears of the deaf will be unlocked.
Then like a deer, the lame will leap about,
and the tongue of the dumb will shout aloud.
For in the wilderness water will break out,
and watercourses in the arid plain.
And the parched ground will become a pool,
and the thirsty ground a place bubbling with water.
In the habitat of jackals, each in its den,
grass as well as reeds and rushes.
          The highway and homecoming
And a highway will be there — a way:
the way of holiness it will be called.
And unclean person will not traverse it —
it is for ‘them’!
Whoever walks the way —
even simpletons could not go astray!
Not even the most ferocious beast will go up on it.
It will not be found there.
And the redeemed will walk;
and Yahweh’s ransomed ones will return
and they will come to Zion with loud shouting.
And eternal rejoicing will be upon their heads:
and they will overtake (or, ‘catch up to’) happiness and rejoicing,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

A thought for the day.

“…if the beauty of Isaiah’s words and thoughts thrill us, how great is our excitement when we realise that he is writing about us! We are the enigmatic ‘them’ and ‘they’, the anonymous ones around whom the poem moves, because we are the redeemed and ransomed with whom it ends.
The ‘ransomed’ are those for whom the price has been paid; the ‘redeemed’ are those with whom Yahweh, the divine next-of-kin, has identified himself, saying to us:

‘What is your problem?
Give it to me.
What is your need?
I will meet it.
What is your burden?
Lay it on my shoulders.’

That is the way with the Goel, the kinsman-redeemer [think of Boaz and the story of Ruth]. He bears it all, pays it all, does it all. He is the doer, we the recipients…In every situation, every place, the glory of Yahweh is present — and, remember, his glory is not an abstract ‘something’, the glory of Yahweh is Yahweh in all his glory, with us, recognized by faith, all along ‘the highway — the way.’

The road we travel may seem full of twists and turns, but it is a protected pathway from which no hazard can dislodge the pilgrim. It is a ‘highway’ running in a straight line from conversion to glory…the end is guaranteed — the ‘redeemed shall come.’ 

Everything that made the journey a sad experience will take to its legs;
every unalloyed delight that slipped like soap out of the pilgrim’s hand will be finally possessed.

Zion admits no disappointment.”

(Alec Motyer, Isaiah by the Day: A New Devotional Translation, p. 168)

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