The Glory of the Restoration
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy” (vv. 5–6a).- Isaiah 35:5–6
God in His grace never leaves His people without hope, even when He promises affliction and discipline for their sin. We have seen this clearly over the past week in our study of Isaiah, for the prophet’s visions have alternated between declaring judgment and destruction on the faithless but life and peace for the faithful who, by the Spirit’s power, come to trust in the Lord’s promises. This, says Isaiah, is true for the remnant of all mankind, no matter their national origin (Isa. 24–25; 30:1–20; 32:9–20).
Today’s passage brings this pledge of salvation to a climax in the first half of the book of Isaiah. Following an oracle of judgment on Edom and, by extension, the faithless of every nation (chap. 34), chapter 35 features a glorious promise of restoration given to God’s old covenant people. The prophet reiterates the promises of passages such as Deuteronomy 30:1–10, wherein Moses foresees an era of great blessing on the other side of the exile of Israel and Judah. Yet in some ways, Isaiah’s restoration promise is more glorious. For instance, the prophet says that life after exile will be so wonderfully abundant that even the dead desert regions will “blossom abundantly” (Isa. 35:1–2a).
Our Lord gave this vision to encourage the few citizens of Judah who trusted Him in Isaiah’s day. When Isaiah called for the strengthening of “weak hands” and “feeble knees,” he was speaking to a people hunched over in depression and discouragement (v. 3). “Where is God in all the trouble, in the exile that is to come?” they asked. We may paraphrase God’s answer thusly: “I have not left you. I will come to redeem you.”
In the day of salvation, says Isaiah, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk, and the mute will sing. In the first instance, this refers to spiritual renewal, the circumcision of the heart for which the prophets hoped (Jer. 31:31–34). John Calvin comments, “By the tongue and ears and feet he means all the faculties of our soul, which in themselves are so corrupt that nothing that is good can be obtained from them till they are restored by the kindness of Christ.”
And yet we cannot divorce this spiritual renewal from the physical, as Isaiah’s promise prompts us to think of Jesus’ healing ministry (Mark 7:31–37; Luke 5:17–26; John 9:1–7). His miracles prove that He is the divine Messiah, who, having inaugurated the renewal of all creation, will consummate it at His return (1 Cor. 15:20–28).
Christ Jesus our Lord is God’s agent of renewal, the one through whom the Spirit is poured out and whose work on the cross redeems creation. But we cannot benefit from this work, nor can we see Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s promises, without trusting the Savior. Calvin writes, “The eyes cannot see what is right, and the ears cannot hear, and the feet cannot guide us in the right way, till we are united to Christ.” Let us pray that our union with Christ would be strengthened.
Passages for Further Study
2 Corinthians 4:1–6