Isaiah 35:6
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
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Isaiah 35:6 - Isaiah 35:7

What a picture is painted in these verses! The dreary wilderness stretches before us, monotonous, treeless, in some parts bearing a scanty vegetation which flourishes in early spring and dies before fierce summer heats, but for the most part utterly desolate, the sand blinding the eyes, the ground cracked and gaping as if athirst for the rain that will not fall; over it the tantalising mirage dancing in mockery, and amid the hot sand the yelp of the jackals. What does this dead land want? One thing alone-water. Could that be poured upon it, all would be changed; nothing else will do any good. And it comes. Suddenly it bursts from the sand, and streams bring life along the desert. It gathers into placid lakes, with their whispering reeds and nodding rushes, and the thick cool grass round their margins. The foul beasts that wandered through dry places seeking rest are drowned out. So full of blessed change will be the coming of the Lord, of which all this context speaks. Mark that this burst of waters is when ‘the Lord shall come,’ and that it is the reason for the restoration of lost powers in men, and especially for a chorus of praise from dumb lips. This, then, is the central blessing. It is not merely a joyful transformation, but it is the reason for a yet more joyful transformation {Isaiah 44:3}. Recall Christ’s words to the Samaritan woman and in the Temple on the great day of the Feast.

Then this is pre-eminently a description of the work of Christ.

I. Christ brings the Supernatural Communication of a New Life.

We may fairly regard this metaphor as setting forth the very deepest characteristic of the gospel. Consider man’s need, as typified in the image of the desert. Mark that the supply for that need must come from without; that coming from without, it must be lodged in the heart of the race; that the supernatural communication of a new life and power is the very essence of the work of Christ; that such a communication is the only thing adequate to produce these wondrous effects.

II. This new life slakes men’s thirst.

The pangs and tortures of the waterless wilderness. The thirst of human souls; they long, whether they know it or not, for-

Truth for Understanding.

Love for Heart.

Basis and Guidance for Will and Effort.

Cleansing for Conscience.

Adequate objects for their powers.

They need that all these should be in One.

The gnawing pain of our thirst is not a myth; it is the secret of man’s restlessness. We are ever on the march, not only because change is the law of the world, nor only because effort and progress are the law for civilised men, but because, like caravans in the desert, we have to search for water.

In Christ it is slaked; all is found there.

III. The Communication of this New Life turns Illusions into Realities.

‘The mirage shall become a pool.’ Life without Christ is but a long illusion. ‘Sin makes a mock of fools.’ How seldom are hopes fulfilled, and how still less frequently are they, when fulfilled, as good as we painted them! The prismatic splendours of the rain bow, which gleam before us and which we toil to catch, are but grey rain-drops when caught. Joys attract and, attained, have incompleteness and a tang of bitterness. The fish is never so heavy when landed on the sward as it felt when struggling on our hook. ‘All is vanity’-yes, if creatures and things temporal are pursued as our good. But nothing is vanity, if we have the life in us which Jesus comes to give. His Gospel gives solid, unmingled joys, sure promises which are greater when fulfilled than when longed for, certain hopes whose most brilliant colours are duller than those of the realities. The half has not been told of the ‘things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’

Sure Promises.

A certain Hope.

IV. This New Life gives Fruitfulness. It stimulates all our nature. A godless life is in a very tragic sense barren, and a wilderness. There is in it nothing really worth doing, nor anything that will last. Christ gives Power, Motive, Pattern, and makes a life of holy activity possible. The works done by men apart from Him are, if measured by the whole relations and capacities of the doers, unfruitful works, however they may seem laden with ruddy clusters. It is only lives into which that river of God which is full of water flows that bring forth fruit, and whose fruit remains. The desert irrigated becomes a garden of the Lord.

Note, too, how this river drowns out wild beasts. The true way of conquering evil is to turn the river into it. Cultivate, and weeds die. The expulsive power of a new affection is the most potent instrument for perfecting character.

What is the use of water if we do not drink? We may perish with thirst even on the river’s bank. ‘If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.’35:5-10 When Christ shall come to set up his kingdom in the world, then wonders, great wonders, shall be wrought on men's souls. By the word and Spirit of Christ, the spiritually blind were enlightened; and those deaf to the calls of God were made to hear them readily. Those unable to do any thing good, by Divine grace were made active therein. Those that knew not how to speak of God or to God, had their lips opened to show forth his praise. When the Holy Ghost came upon the Gentiles that heard the word, then were the fountains of life opened. Most of the earth is still a desert; neither means of grace, spiritual worshippers, nor fruits of holiness, are to be found in it. But the way of religion and godliness shall be laid open. The way of holiness is the way of God's commandment; it is the good old way. And the way to heaven is a plain way. Those knowing but little, and unlearned, shall be kept from missing the road. It shall be a safe way; nothing can do them any real hurt. Christ, the way to God, shall be clearly made known; and the way of a believer's duty shall be plainly marked out. Let us then go forward cheerfully, assured that the end of this way shall be everlasting joy, and rest for the soul. Those who by faith are made citizens of the gospel Zion, rejoice in Christ Jesus; and their sorrows and sighs are made to flee away by Divine consolations. Thus these prophecies conclude. Our joyful hopes and prospects of eternal life should swallow up all the sorrows and all the joys of this present time. But of what avail is it to admire the excellence of God's word, unless we can call its precious promises our own? Do we love God, not only as our Creator, but because he gave his only Son to die for us? And are we walking in the ways of holiness? Let us try ourselves by such plain questions, rather than spend time on things that may be curious and amusing, but are unprofitable.Then shall the lame man leap - This was literally fulfilled after the coming of the Messiah Acts 14:10; Acts 3:8. It is an emblem of the general joy which the coming of the Messiah would impart, and is an instance of the blessings which it would convey.

As an hart - The word used here denotes the stag, or male deer. In Arabic it denotes the wild, or mountain-goat. The word sometimes refers to any species of deer or antelope, and this is referred to here from its quick and sprightly nature.

And the tongue of the dumb sing - Shall be able to sing, and to praise God. On the restoration of the dumb to the benefits of language, see Matthew 9:32-33; Matthew 12:22; Matthew 15:30-31; Mark 9:17; Luke 11:14.

For in the wilderness shall waters break out - The joy shall be as great, and the blessings as numerous and refreshing, as if running fountains should suddenly break out in the desert, and the thirsty and weary traveler should be thus unexpectedly and fully supplied. The world, in regard to its real comforts without the gospel, may be not unaptly compared to g vast waste of pathless sands and arid plains. Nothing will more strongly express the blessings of the gospel than the idea of cool, refreshing, abundant fountains and streams bursting forth in such pathless wastes. This is an image which would be very expressive to those who were accustomed to cross such deserts, and it is one which is frequently employed by the sacred writers, and especially by Isaiah (see Isaiah 43:19-20; Isaiah 48:21; Isaiah 49:10-11; Isaiah 55:1; Isaiah 58:11). 'Lameness and dumbness are the uniform effects of long walking in a desert; the sand and gravel produce the former, fatigue the latter. In such cases some of us have walked hours together without uttering a sentence; and all walked as if crippled, from the sand and gravel getting into the shoes; but the sight of water, especially if unexpected, unloosed every tongue, and gave agility to every limb; men, oxen, goats, sheep, and dogs, ran with speed and expressions of joy to the refreshing element.' (Campbell's Travels in Africa.) The Chaldee Paraphrast understands this as referring entirely to the return from the captivity at Babylon. 'Then shall they see the exiles of Israel assembled, ascend to their own land as the swift stags, so that they shall not be hindered.'

6. leap—literally, "fulfilled" (Ac 3:8; 14:10).

sing—joyful thanksgiving.

in … wilderness … waters—(Isa 41:18).

Then shall the lame man leap for joy, or go nimbly and readily. And this clause also, and that which follows, are to he understood both spiritually and literally, as in the former verse.

In the wilderness small waters break out, and streams in the desert; the most dry and barren places shall be made moist and fruitful; which is principally meant of the plentiful effusion of God’s grace upon such persons and nations as had been wholly destitute of it. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart..... As the lame man did healed by Peter, Acts 3:1 there were many instances of such persons cured by Christ when here on earth, Matthew 15:30 and in a spiritual sense this was verified in many who were impotent to that which is good; had neither will nor power to go to Christ for life and salvation, nor to walk by faith in him, nor to walk in his ways; who yet, by the mighty power of the Spirit and grace of God, became able and willing to go to him, and venture their souls on him; walked on in him as they had received him; and not only walked in his ways, but ran in the ways of his commandments, and leaped for joy for what they saw and heard of him, and received from him; and innumerable will be the instances of such mighty grace at the spiritual coming and reign of Christ:

and the tongue of the dumb shall sing; this had its accomplishment, in a literal sense, at the first coming of Christ, Matthew 9:32, Matthew 12:22 and, in a spiritual sense, in many who before had nothing to say to God in prayer, nor in praise; nothing to say of Christ, or for him; or of the blessed Spirit, and his divine operations; but now, by divine grace, are made to speak unto God, both in a petitionary way, and in a way of thankfulness; and of Christ, and of the blessed Spirit; and of the great things each have done for them; and even to sing for joy, because of the wondrous blessings of grace they were made partakers of; and many more such there will be in the latter day, when the Spirit is poured down from on high. Kimchi interprets all this of the Israelites, who were in captivity as blind, deaf, lame, and dumb. So the Targum of this and the preceding verse Isaiah 35:5,

"then shall the eyes of the house of Israel be opened, who were as blind men as to the law; and the ears of them that are as deaf men, to attend to the words of the prophets shall hear; then when they shall see the captives of Israel gathered to go up to their own land as the swift harts, and not tarry,'' &c.;

but it may be better applied to their present state, and to their case when they shall be turned to the Lord in the latter day:

for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert; not literally, but mystically; and may be understood both of the doctrines of the Gospel breaking out in the ministry of them, in such places as were like unto the wilderness and desert, quite barren, and destitute of the knowledge, grace, and fear of God; see Joel 3:18 and of the abundance of grace, and the efficacy of it, making the word effectual to the conversion and fruitfulness of multitudes of souls, bringing along with it a vast variety of spiritual blessings; see John 7:37 to both which, the one as the means, and the other as the cause, all the above wonderful things are owing.

Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing: for in the {g} wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

(g) They who were barren and destitute of the graces of God, will have them given by Christ.

Verse 6. - For in the wilderness shall waters break out. The wilderness of humanity shall be renovated by a large effluence of God's grace (comp. Isaiah 30:25; Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 41:18; Isaiah 43:19; John 7:37, 38). This transition from words of Jehovah concerning Himself to words relating to Him, may also be removed by adopting the following rendering: "For my mouth, it has commanded it, and its (my mouth's) breath, it has brought it together" (rūchō equals rūăch pı̄, Psalm 30:6; Job 15:30).

Isaiah 34:16Whenever any one compared the prophecy with the fulfilment, they would be found to coincide. "Search in the book of Jehovah, and read! Not one of the creatures fails, not one misses the other: for my mouth - it has commanded it; and His breath - it has brought them together. And He has cast the lot for them, and His hand has assigned it (this land) to them by measure: they will possess it for ever; to generation and generation they will dwell therein." The phrase על כּתב is used for entering in a book, inasmuch as what is written there is placed upon the page; and מעל דּרשׁ for searching in a book, inasmuch as a person leans over the book when searching in it, and gets the object of his search out of it. The prophet applied the title "The Book of Jehovah" to his collection of the prophecies with which Jehovah had inspired him, and which He had commanded him to write down. Whoever lived to see the time when the judgment should come upon Edom, would have only to look inquiringly into this holy scripture; and if he compared what was predicted there with what had been actually realized, he would find the most exact agreement between them. The creatures named, which loved to frequent the marshes and solitary places, and ruins, would all really make their homes in what had once been Edom. But the satyrs and the lı̄lı̄th, which were only the offspring of the popular belief - what of them? They, too, would be there; for in the sense intended by the prophet they were actual devils, which he merely calls by well-known popular names to produce a spectral impression. Edom would really become a rendezvous for all the animals mentioned, as well as for such unearthly spirits as those which he refers to here. The prophet, or rather Jehovah, whose temporary organ he was, still further confirms this by saying, "My mouth hath commanded it, and His breath has brought them (all these creatures) together." As the first creating word proceeded from the mouth of Jehovah, so also does the word of prophecy, which resembles such a word; and the breath of the mouth of Jehovah, i.e., His Spirit, is the power which accomplishes the fiat of prophecy, as it did that of creation, and moulds all creatures and their history according to the will and counsel of God (Psalm 33:6). In the second part of Isaiah 34:16 the prophet is speaking of Jehovah; whereas in the first Jehovah speaks through him - a variation which vanishes indeed if we read פּיו (Olshausen on Job 9:2), or, what would be better, פּיהוּ, but which may be sustained by a hundred cases of a similar kind. There is a shadow, as it were, of this change in the להם, which alternates with להן in connection with the animals named. The suffix of chilleqattâh (without mappik, as in 1 Samuel 1:6) refers to the land of Edom. Edom is, as it were, given up by a divine lot, and measured off with a divine measure, to be for ever the horrible abode of beasts and demons such as those described. A prelude of the fulfilment of this swept over the mountainous land of Edom immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem (see Khler on Malachi 1:2-5); and it has never risen to its previous state of cultivation again. It swarms with snakes, and the desolate mountain heights and barren table-lands are only inhabited by wild crows and eagles, and great flocks of birds. But the ultimate fulfilment, to which the appeal in Isaiah 34:16 refers, is still in the future, and will eventually fall upon the abodes of those who spiritually belong to that circle of hostility to Jehovah (Jesus) and His church, of which ancient Edom was merely the centre fixed by the prophet.

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