Isaiah 35:1-2, 5-6, 10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing… Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert… And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Eliza Verney, daughter of British admiral Sir George Johnson Hope and mother of seven, was one of many 19th-century Anglican women who wrote Bible commentaries. Her husband dedicated her commentary on Isaiah: “To the memory of one who, richly endowed with intellectual gifts, devoted them all to the glory of God and the highest welfare of everyone connected to her.”
Isaiah 35:1-10 describes a time when the desert will rejoice, the eyes of the blind will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, the broken healed and streams will appear in the desert. Eliza Verney described “this beautiful chapter as a summary of all the blessings brought by Christ and His salvation.”
Jesus identified himself with this text. When John the Baptist asked: “Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” (Matthew 11:3,5) Jesus’ response assured John that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.
Eliza Verney was comforted as she looked forward to the time when God’s children would “obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” But as a mother who had just experienced the death of one of her children, Verney knew divine comfort could be found even “when the troubles of life press heavily upon us and our spirit is well-nigh overwhelmed.”
Throughout Advent, we look back to Isaiah’s promises fulfilled in Jesus and forward with joy and expectation to Jesus’ glorious Second Coming.
Let us pray
During this time of waiting, of “already, but not yet,” let us be reminded that this Jesus who brought healing and sight to his followers brings healing and sight to us today as we joyfully await his coming, praying, Come Lord Jesus, come. Amen.