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When we are away from home for any extended period, our hearts long for a return to that place where we belong; that place of joy and refreshment; that place of love and security; that place that just feels right to us because we were created to live there.

[Almost like the TV show Cheers – where everyone knows your name …]

I love John Denver’s classic hit song, Take Me Home, Country Roads:

Almost heaven, West Virginia

Blue ridge mountains

Shenandoah river –

Life is old there

Older than the trees

Younger than the mountains

Growin like a breeze

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia, mountain momma

Take me home, country roads

. . .

I hear her voice

In the mornin hour she calls me

The radio reminds me of my home far away

And drivin down the road I get a feelin

That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia, mountain momma

Take me home, country roads

Words and music by bill danoff, taffy nivert and john denver

As pilgrims on this earth, our citizenship is in heaven and we look forward to the full realization of the kingdom of God on earth. Likewise the nation of Israel in the OT enjoyed many precious promises of their eventual return to Zion when all of Israel would be saved and the Messianic Kingdom would be ushered in. Whatever sorrow and hardship we may be experiencing now will one day be replaced by complete joy and abundant prosperity as we revel in the majestic glory of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We have some blessings that should excite us.

This chapter stands in stark contrast to the bleak picture of slaughter and desolation in the preceding chapter as the Lord judges the land of Edom. Jerusalem, the City of God on its majestic mountaintop, is the end goal for the journey described here as these Jews are regathered in the last days in preparation for the Messianic Kingdom. The more immediate return of the exiles from Babylon is but a foreshadowing of those yet future days of deliverance and glory.


(28:1 – 35:10) 6 Woes Against Worldly Alliances Based on Pride and Self-Reliance – Destined for Both Near Term and Eschatological Judgment With Some Remnant Hope – Application: Trust in God Alone!

1. (28:1-29) Woe #1 – Directed Against Harmful Political Leaders = Disoriented Drunkards and Security-Seeking Scoffers of Israel –

2. (29:1-14) Woe #2 – Directed Against Religious Hypocrisy in Jerusalem –

The Lord Judges Rote Religious Tradition with Spiritual Blindness

3. (29:15-24) Woe #3 – Directed Against the Sophisticated Self Sufficient = Those Who Think They Are Smarter Than God = Deceivers and Defrauders –

Those Who Think They are Smarter Than God Will be Wiped Off the Face of this Earth

4. (30:1-33) Woe #4 – Directed Against Alliances with the World –

5. (31:1-32:20) Woe #5 – Directed Against Those Who Trust in the World’s Wisdom and Power

6. (33:1-12) Woe #6 – Directed Against the Destroyer with Deliverance for Zion –

When God Springs Into Visible and Dramatic Action, the Destroyer is Destroyed and God’s People are Delivered

(34) Images of Slaughter and Desolation flesh out the horrifying picture of the unleashing of the wrath of God


As we unfold these promised physical blessings to the nation of Israel and specifically the land of Jerusalem – anticipating the deliverance her Messiah would bring in the Millennial Kingdom – we will make the spiritual application to us as believers today. Faith in Jesus Christ today brings immediate parallel blessings in the spiritual realm to us today.

Tone of Gladness and Singing and Rejoicing pervades this chapter



A. (:1-2) Glorious Description

1. Beautiful Blossoming of the Desert and Wilderness

“The wilderness and the desert will be glad,

And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;

Like the crocus it will blossom profusely

And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.”

God will transform the parched land of Israel into the most productive land –

He can do that in your life spiritually right now – transform your depression into joy

2. Majestic Testimony to God’s Glory

“The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.

They will see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.”

MacArthur: Areas near the sea noted for their agricultural fertility.

Parunak: Lebanon was renowned for its majestic cedars, Carmel and Sharon as fruitful garden lands. Now the wilderness and desert will share in their fruitfulness. . . The wilderness receives restoration, but only humans can understand its significance as demonstrating God’s power.

Beall: Lebanon, Sharon, and Carmel were all mentioned in Isa 33:9 as being in mourning as Israel was devastated by her enemies; here, they are used as symbols of Israel’s restoration. Nature’s glory, however, merely sets the stage for the glory of the One responsible for the rebirth of the wilderness–namely, the Lord Himself.

B. (:3-4) Encouraging Application

1. Provides Strength

“Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.”

Like the slumping of the shoulders which gives indication of discouragement

David E. Thompson:

“exhausted” – so worn down they have a hard time even lifting their hands

“feeble” – knees about to buckle

God’s people can find themselves in circumstances where they are exhausted and feeble; in those times they need encouraging words; speaking forth the marvelous truth of the grace and power and deliverance of God; take courage because God is going to pour out vengeance on all your enemies; you stay faithful

– God is for you if you are a believer

– God is with you

– God is in you

– God will help you; you wait on Him

Heb. 12:12-13 – writer of Hebrews quotes this verse in an exhortation to perseverance in the midst of difficulties and under the hand of divine discipline; we need the spiritual discipline to continue to run the race that is set before us – looking unto Jesus who provides the strength we need

2. Provides Courage

“Say to those with anxious heart, ‘Take courage, fear not.’”

Parunak: 1 Chron. 28:20 — David is commissioning Solomon to build the temple. The focus in Isaiah is on the march to Zion. The people are on their way to the sanctuary, and Isaiah encourages them with the memory of how God strengthened Solomon as he prepared a place for the nation to worship the Lord. [Strength from the presence of God]

3. Promises Vengeance

“Behold, your God will come with vengeance;

The recompense of God will come,”

34:8 – studied this last week

2 Thess. 1:6-10

4. Promises Deliverance

“But He will save you.”

Motyer: The first move of reassurance is simply to “Behold your God”, the God who is still prepared to be “yours”, notwithstanding all your weaknesses. The second move is to recognize that he will put everything right: vengeance for “wrong suffered” (in this case, by his people) and retribution from “wrong done” (here to his people). Thirdly, he comes to effect salvation, full deliverance. Note the parallel phrases “he will come with vengeance” (what he will do against his adversaries) and “he will himself come and he will save you.” (what he will do for his people).



A. Transformation of Every Human Deficiency – both physical and spiritual connotations

Davidson: The Healing of the Handicapped — The blind, the deaf, lame and mute are used frequently to speak of spiritual conditions and well as physical (6:10; 28:7; 29:9-10, 18; 30:20-21; 32: 3-4). . . Physical, spiritual and social healing are signs of the Messiah and the messianic age (Mt. 11:5; 12:22; Acts 3:7-8). The Messiah will bring about this restoration of life.

1. Sight — “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened”

No more need for seeing eye dogs and books of Braille and schools for the blind

2. Hearing — “And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped”

No more need for sign language and for hearing aids

3. Mobility — “Then the lame will leap like a deer”

Not just gradually get better like through physical therapy … but immediately restored to supreme mobility

No more need for crutches and canes and wheel chairs and walkers –

Saw commercial the other day for wheel chair that helps you go up and down stairs so you can continue to live in your two story house in your old age

Cf. Acts 3:8 – Peter’s healing of the lame man in the temple

4. Speech — “And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy”

David E. Thompson: Jesus quoted this text in Matt. 11:4; John the Baptist was in jail; wondering why Christ had not established His kingdom yet; Jesus leaves out the fact that the waters will break forth in the wilderness – Christ will do that at His Second Advent; performing the Messianic miracles but not fulfilling all of them at the present time; all will be healed and the land will be blessed;

B. Transformation of Nature – Water, fertility – Streams in the Desert

“For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah.

The scorched land will become a pool and the thirsty ground springs of water;

In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, Grass becomes reeds and rushes.”

Water is such a precious commodity in the land of Israel – there will be no lack in the millennial kingdom (41:18)

Beall: roaming a desolate land (as there were in 34:13), but instead there would be abundant vegetation (“the rock crags which those animals normally inhabit have become a splashy meadow” [Oswalt, p. 624]). Again, Oswalt’s comment is germane: “the way of man is to make the inhabited uninhabitable; the way of God is to take the barren and make it abundant” (p. 625).

Oswalt: The point is that God’s coming to his people (35:4) has its purpose in the people coming to him in holy lives for worship and fellowship (2:2-4; 4:2-6; 25:6-9; 66:18-23).



Wayne Joyce: 4 other Places in Isaiah that speak of this Highway:

11:16; 19:23-25 – what a peace triangle: Egypt (called “His people”), Assyria and Israel; the highway will extend;

40:3 “prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway”;

62:10 – a cleared way for God’s people to go; safe to travel; cleared out of all stones;

God kept His promises to Judah and will keep His future promises related to the kingdom

A. What is so Special about this Highway?

1. Surprising to find a Highway in the desert

“A highway will be there, a roadway”

A significant road that leads to a significant destination

2. Characterized by Holiness

“And it will be called the Highway of Holiness”

The road is narrow that leads to salvation

3. Off Limits to Unbelievers

a. “The unclean will not travel on it”

b. “And fools will not wander on it”

cf. Psalm 1 – don’t have to worry anymore about being contaminated by the wicked, the unclean, the polluted

Highways are a dangerous place today – all types of crazy people driving right next to you

4. Reserved for the Redeemed of the Lord

a. “But it will be for him who walks that way” = holiness vs unholiness

b. “But the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return”

Parunak: Finally we learn the identity of the company that is on this joyful earth-transforming journey: the redeemed, those whom the Lord has ransomed. The two words are very close semantically. Both describe setting someone free by paying a price. Each represents about half of the OT instances of the Greek λυτροω, the main NT word for redemption. Yet they have different emphases.

“Redeemed” reflects Hebrew âàì , which emphasizes the one who pays the price. This is the first of 25 instances in Isaiah, who uses the word more than any other OT book (25x). Next are Ruth and Leviticus, with 22 instances each, and both emphasize that the one paying the price must be a kinsman. In keeping with the emphasis on the doer, the verb frequently appears as a participle (46/96 of the Qal instances), often nominally, “the redeemer.”

“Ransomed” reflects Hebrew ôãä . This verb says nothing about the performer, and in fact only 2 of its 55 Qal instances are as the participle (and neither is nominal). The emphasis is entirely on the commercial transaction. This verb appears only 4x in Isaiah. Two are here and in the quotation of this verse in 51:11. The other two come before this point:

1:27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

The complement with á indicates the means or price; cf. Exod 13:13; 34:20. It may refer to God’s exertion by which he accomplishes something (Deut 9:26; Neh 1:10).

29:22 Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham

As we discussed on this passage, the focus is on Abraham’s deliverance from his idolatrous past, which God condemned and judged.

5. Protected against Predators – Complete Security and Safety

“No lion will be there,

Nor will any vicious beast go up on it.”

B. What is so Exciting about this Highway?

1. It leads to the City of God – Throne of the Messiah of the Kingdom

“And come with joyful shouting to Zion,”

2. It ushers in long term Rejoicing

“With everlasting joy upon their heads.”

Oswalt: Joy is the by-product of the presence of God in life. When we, through our lack of trust, push Him away, the end result is dryness and lifelessness. It is only when we turn to Him, recognizing the insufficiency of all other help, that we perceive His coming to us and find the joy and healing of His transforming grace.

3. It replaces sorrow and hardship with gladness and joy

“They will find gladness and joy,

And sorrow and sighing will flee away.”


Marantha! Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus! Take me home, country roads.