The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:1-4 ESV
He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
And there he lets the hungry dwell,
and they establish a city to live in;
they sow fields and plant vineyards
and get a fruitful yield.
By his blessing they multiply greatly,
and he does not let their livestock diminish. Psalm 107 35-38 ESV
A desert is a very dry place most of the time. Where there is a desert there is very little rain, only ten inches a year or less. There is a lot of sand or dirt or rocks, but not many plants except for special kinds that are designed to be able to live with very little water. In different parts of the world these might include date palms, acacia trees, and different types of cactus. But sometimes there is rain in the desert, maybe at a particular time of the year or maybe because of a passing storm. When there is rain, something amazing happens in the desert. Beautiful, colorful flowers bloom overnight, covering the desert floor with a carpet of flowers.
The prophet Isaiah used a blossoming desert as a picture of God’s love and mercy. He compared people who are in trouble, threatened by their enemies and weighed down with sin, with a hot, dry desert. When God would come to help and to save them, it would be like a desert rejoicing and singing and blooming with beautiful flowers. To the people who felt weak and anxious and ready to give up, Isaiah said to be strong and not to be afraid. God was going to come and defeat their enemies and save them from their troubles.
We were all weighed down with sin and death, and completely weak and helpless. We would never have been able to save ourselves, but God came to us in Jesus to help and save us. Jesus went to the cross and died to defeat sin and death. He rose again from the dead, and now he is with us all the time. When Jesus came he gave us new life and hope, the same way rain brings new and beautiful life to a desert. A carpet of desert wildflowers only lasts for a short time, but our life with Jesus will last forever.