Isaiah 35

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 7, 1999


We are in the middle of a two chapter prophecy dealing with the end times. In chapter 34, we saw a description of the soon coming "Great Tribulation" period. This will be a period of seven years on earth which will see the rise of a person known as the antichrist, and will be a time when God’s righteous judgment will be poured out on the unbelieving world. It will end with the great battle of Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ. Isaiah 35 picks up at the place where Jesus has returned and gives us a peek at what life will be like under King Jesus. After God’s wrath, the earth will experience a time of restoration.

:2 Lebanon … Carmel and Sharon

These were the green, fertile areas in the northern part of Israel and neighboring countries. The desert will be turned into a garden. And the desert will rejoice. All of creation will be happy with what happens when Jesus returns. (Rom. 8:19-23)

:3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

strengthenchazaq – to strengthen, prevail, harden, be courageous. It refers to the strength that is in the hand to grasp and hold a thing firmly and strongly.

weakrapheh – slack; let drop, be disheartened

confirm'amats – to be strong, alert, courageous, solid, hard. It refers to the firmness of one who keeps standing his ground and won’t be moved by an opponent.

feeblekashal – to stumble, stagger, totter

Isaiah is telling the people in his own day to encourage each other in light of the fact that God will rescue them.


Don’t despise the "feeble".

(1 Th 5:14 NLT) Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

I have to admit that sometimes I lose patience with certain people and tend to get rather judgmental when they seem "weak" or "feeble". I want to tell them, "buck up and act like a man!". But I have to tell you that there are plenty of times that I feel VERY weak and during those times I long for people to be gracious and kind to me.


Encourage the weak ones

The writer to the Hebrews quotes from this part of Isaiah:

Heb 12:11-13 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. {12} Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; {13} And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

There are some whose hands are weak because of the discipline they’ve been going through. We need to encourage them to hold on and to be "exercised" by the discipline. Learn the lessons God is teaching you. Don’t quit.

:4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not:

fearfulmahar – to be hurried, be anxious

fear notyare' – to fear, revere, be afraid


Fear weakens us

Though fear of God is good, fear of everything else will cripple us in our walk with the Lord.

In the Old Testament, God gave an interesting bit of advice to armies going out to war. When the time came to gather an army –

(Deu 20:8 KJV) And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.

Fear can be a contagious thing. When one man gets scared, others can become fearful and run as well. You don’t want very many fearful men in your army on the day of battle.

Gideon – Judges 6-7

God called Gideon to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianite raiders. Every year the Midianites would come in and steal the hard earned harvest of the Israelites. When we first meet Gideon, a particular character trait of his stands out:

Judg 6:23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.

Judg 6:27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.

Gideon was a fearful man!

The Midianites had an army of 150,000 men, and when it came time for Gideon to call together an army of Israelites, only 32,000 showed up. But to Gideon’s surprise, God said that Gideon had too many! God’s recommendation was:

Judg 7:3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

God didn’t want those who were fearful to discourage those who were wanting to follow. So He had them sent home. Eventually, Gideon’s army was whittled down to only 300 men. But they were 300 men who would follow God’s directions anywhere! Kind of ironic when you think of how fearful their leader, Gideon, was! In the end, Gideon’s 300 men were victorious over 150,000 Midianites.

Greg Laurie writes, "Through stories like Gideon’s, God makes it abundantly clear that He can do more with a few committed folks than He can with thousands who are following Him only half-heartedly. Today God is still looking around to see who He really has. He is seeking those men and women who will follow Him with total abandon – against all odds, without questioning His directions or His methods." (The Upside-Down Church, page 111)

John Wesley said, "Give me a hundred men who love God with all their hearts and fear nothing but sin, and I will move the world."


Don’t let fear stop you.

But the point of our passage in Isaiah is not to send home the fearful. It’s to encourage them.

We tend to think that we ought to say to those who are fearful, "Get lost!". But God wants us to first try to encourage them to be strong.

God is preparing an army of those who are going to serve Him in these last days. There are going to be many wonderful and mighty "exploits" of "mighty men" and "mighty women". We can read about things like Gideon’s victory and dream of being part of those "glory days" of old. But we have some glory days ahead of us. Do you want to be a part of it? Or are you going to be sitting on the sidelines because of fear?

It’s funny that God sent home all the fearful ones in Gideon’s army, but Gideon didn’t go home. Was it because Mr. Fearful (Gideon) was no longer afraid? No! He was still fearful. After his army of 300 was ready to go, God said,

Judg 7:10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host …

God was telling Gideon that if he was still afraid, then he needed to go and spy on the Midianites. He’d find that there was nothing to be afraid of. So, did Gideon have to go and spy on the Midianites to calm his fears? Yes. Had he still been fearful? Yes.

Gideon was still fearful, but he did not allow his fear to affect his actions.


During World War II, a military governor met with General George Patton in Sicily. When he praised Patton highly for his courage and bravery, the general replied, "Sir, I am not a brave man—the truth is, I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands." Years later, when Patton’s autobiography was published, it contained this significant statement by the general: "I learned very early in my life never to take counsel of my fears."


President Theodore Roosevelt once said: "It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither defeat nor victory."

:4 he will come and save you.

There’s two ways that this will be fulfilled.

It will be fulfilled in the future when Jesus saves the Jews from antichrist.

But it has already been fulfilled when Jesus came the first time.

Jesus died on a cross to pay for our sins. He has saved us from the wrath of God by taking that wrath Himself. He is our God. He has come. He has saved us.

:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened …

Though this is speaking of the future when "he comes and saves us", they have also already happened during Jesus’ first coming. Apparently John the Baptist had begun to wonder if Jesus was indeed God’s promised Savior, and he asked if Jesus was the one.

(Mat 11:4-5 KJV) Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: {5} The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

Jesus was saying to John that John could be certain who Jesus was because Jesus was fulfilling these prophecies of Isaiah. He matched God’s description of a Savior.

:8 And an highway shall be there … The way of holiness

holinessqodesh – apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness. It means to be set apart for a special purpose. My toothbrush is "holy" to me because I’m the only one who is supposed to use it. For us, it means to be set apart for God’s purposes. Our holiness speaks of God being the only one who is allowed to "use" us.



Only those who are "holy" will be allowed to travel on God’s highway. The process of becoming "holy" is called "sanctification". There are three different aspects to this process of being holy:

1. Positional – We have been made holy in God’s sight by the work of Jesus.

In a way, God already considers you as "holy". This is because of the work of Jesus on the cross in paying for your sins.

(Heb 10:10 NIV) … we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

We have already been made "holy" through Jesus Christ dying for our sins. We are called "saints" because we have already been sanctified.

2. Ultimate – One day we will be totally "holy". In a way, we cannot be totally "holy" while still in this body. We still sin.

1Jo 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

But one day, ultimately, we will be like Him, holy.

(1 John 3:2 KJV) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

3. Practical – Holiness is a product that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives. He is constantly at work to make us more like Jesus – purer and purer. It’s like we’re on a conveyer belt in God’s Holiness Factory. He is making us more and more like Jesus.


Holiness is not an option

Purity and holiness are a part of being a Christian.

(Heb 12:14 KJV) Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Paul writes,

1 Th 4:1-8 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. {2} For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. {3} For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: {4} That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; {5} Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: {6} That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. {7} For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. {8} He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

Holiness is God’s will for us (vs. 3). It’s not an option. When we receive Jesus as our Savior, God puts His Holy Spirit in us. Guess what one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is? It’s to make us holy. Growing in holiness is a part of "growing up" as a Christian. If you struggle with this, you’re not struggling with me, you’re struggling with the Holy Spirit.

:9 the redeemed shall walk there

We are the "redeemed". We’ve been bought by the Lord through His death on the cross for us. We will walk on the "way of holiness".

:10 songs and everlasting joy upon their heads

Following the Lord is not to be a drudgery. It should be a blast!

:3-4 …he will come and save you.


He is faithful.

This chapter has been about the future. God will keep His promises. But for us now, we need to encourage one another to keep going.


This story comes from Chuck and Nancy Missler’s book, "Faith in the Night Seasons", pg. 108-109:

"In 1921, two young missionary couples in Stockholm, Sweden received a burden to go to the Belgian Congo (which is now Zaire). David and Svea Flood (along with their 2 year old son) joined Joel and Bertha Erickson to battle insects, fierce heat, malaria and malnutrition. But after six months in the jungle, they had made little or no contact with the native people. Although the Ericksons decided to return to the mission station, the Floods chose to stay in their lonely outpost. Svea was now pregnant and sick with malaria, yet she faithfully continued to minister to their one and only convert, a little boy from one of the nearby villages.

"Svea died after giving birth to a healthy baby girl, and as David Flood stood over his beloved wife’s grave, he poured out his bitterness to God: ‘Why did You allow this? We came here to give our lives, and now my wife is dead at 27! All we have to show for all this is one little village boy who probably doesn’t even understand what we’ve told him. You’ve failed me, God. What a waste of life!’

"David Flood ended up leaving his new daughter with the Ericksons and taking his son back home with him to Sweden. He then went into the import business, and never allowed the name of "God" to be mentioned in his presence. His little girl was raised in the Congo by an American missionary couple, who named their adopted daughter "Aggie."

"Throughout her life, Aggie tried to locate her real father, but her letters were never answered. She never knew that David Flood had remarried and fathered four more children, and she never knew that he had plunged into despair and had become a total alcoholic. But when she was in her forties, Aggie and her husband were given round-trip tickets to Sweden, and while spending a day’s layover in London, the couple went to hear a well-known black preacher from the Belgian Congo.

"After the meeting, Aggie asked the preacher, ‘Did you ever know David and Svea Flood?’ To her great surprise, he answered, ‘Svea Flood led me to the Lord when I was a little boy.’ Aggie was ecstatic to learn that her mother’s only convert was being mightily used to evangelize Zaire, and he was overjoyed to meet the daughter of the woman who had introduced him to Christ.

"When Aggie arrived in Sweden, she located her father in an impoverished area of Stockholm, living in a rundown apartment filled with empty liquor bottles. David Flood was now a 73 year old diabetic who had had a stroke and whose eyes were covered with cataracts, yet when she identified herself, he began to weep and apologize for abandoning her. But when Aggie said, ‘That’s okay, Daddy. God took care of me,’ he became totally enraged.

"‘God didn’t take care of you!’ he cried. ‘He ruined our whole family! He led us to Africa and then betrayed us! Nothing ever came of our time there, and it was a waste of our lives!’

‘That’s when Aggie told him about the black preacher she’d just met in London, and how the Congo had been evangelized through the efforts of his wife’s one and only convert. As he listened to his daughter, the Holy Spirit suddenly fell on David Flood, and tears of sorrow and repentance began to flow down his face. Although God mercifully restored him before he died, David Flood left behind five unsaved and embittered children. His anger towards God had totally wasted his life’s potential, and created a tragic legacy for his family."

Are you letting disappointments keep you from doing what God has for you? God has good things for you. He has a plan. You need not quit.