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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Isaiah 35

Yahweh’s day of blessing ch. 35

In contrast to the preceding chapter, this one is full of joy and rejoicing. There God turned the world into a desert; here He transforms that desert into a garden. The order of events is significant because they rule out postmillennialism, which teaches that the world will get increasingly better-until the utopia (Millennium) described in this chapter comes about-following which Messiah will return to the earth. Genesis 12:3, one of the original promises to Abraham, even suggests the order explained in Isaiah 34, 35 : cursing followed by blessing, both on a universal scale. References to "be glad" and "gladness" begin and end the poem, forming an inclusio. "Shout of joy," "shout for joy," and "joyful shouting" appear at the beginning (Isaiah 35:2), middle (Isaiah 35:6), and end (Isaiah 35:10). The structure is chiastic, centering on hope (Isaiah 35:5-6). However, Isaiah tantalized his readers by offering images that create questions in their minds that only further reading can answer. The chapter increasingly builds to an intellectual resolution and an emotional climax in the last verse.

Verses 1-2

References to the wilderness and desert tie this chapter to the preceding one. The wilderness that God so thoroughly judged, personified here, will eventually rejoice because it will blossom profusely. The beauty and glory that formerly marked Lebanon and Carmel, before the devastation of chapter 34, will mark these places again, but more so. Their transformation, at God’s hand, will enable them to appreciate the inherent value and majestic dignity of Israel’s sovereign Lord (cf. Romans 8:13-25).

"If we will give God his glory, then he will give his to us." [Note: Oswalt, p. 622.]

Verses 3-4

Those who are alive at the end of the Tribulation will be a small remnant of believers and some unbelievers. Isaiah called the reader to encourage the exhausted and feeble believers of his or her time. They would need to keep their eyes on God. God would come to take vengeance for them and to deliver them (cf. Deuteronomy 31:6-7; Deuteronomy 31:23; Joshua 1:6-7; Joshua 1:9; Joshua 1:18; Revelation 13:9-10; Revelation 14:12). He would reward them; they will enter Messiah’s millennial kingdom.

Verses 5-6

The former limitations of these believers will end, and they will rejoice (cf. Isaiah 6:9-10; Isaiah 29:9-12; Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 65:20; Luke 7:18-23; Acts 3:8). The Israelites’ blindness and deafness was in reference to God’s call to participate in His work. [Note: Watts, Isaiah 34-66, p. 15.]

Verses 6-7

Water gushing out in the arid wilderness and Arabah would be a sign of blessings that they would shortly experience (cf. Isaiah 35:1-2; Isaiah 41:18; Isaiah 43:19-20; Isaiah 44:3-4; Deuteronomy 28:1-14). The desolate resting place where only jackals lived would become verdant with grassy growth. Reversal and transformation will mark this time.

Verse 8

A highway will be there leading through the then-lush landscape to Zion (Isaiah 35:10). It will be used by the ransomed of the Lord (Isaiah 35:10) to travel to Messiah’s capital. It will be a highway marked by holiness because only redeemed people will travel on it. Fools, the morally perverse, will not wander onto it because they are unholy. Is this a literal road? It may be, but it certainly pictures God’s people at that time streaming to Zion through a renovated earth.

Verses 9-10

Nothing will threaten or endanger the redeemed as they travel the holy highway to the holy city. This is the first of 24 occurrences of "redeemed" in Isaiah. The redeemed will come rejoicing into Zion, the New Jerusalem, where there will be no more sorrow or sighing, just unbreakable happiness, gladness, and joyful shouting (cf. Isaiah 51:11; Psalms 23:6; Ezekiel 36:24-28; Ezekiel 40-44; Zechariah 14:16-19; Revelation 21:1-4).

While what Isaiah described here parallels to a limited extent the Jews’ return from Babylonian captivity, the context of the chapter, as well as its terminology, point to a fulfillment in the future that that return only prefigured. Another foreview was the converging of pilgrims on Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate the annual feasts of Judaism. Amillennialists normally interpret this chapter as depicting the blessings that would come to the church through the first advent of Christ (cf. John 16:33).

Isaiah 35:10 not only climaxes chapter 35, but also the whole section of Isaiah dealing with God’s sovereignty over the nations (chs. 13-35).

"Chs. 7-12 posed a question: ’Is God Sovereign of the nations?’ Can God deliver from an Assyria? Or is he just one more of the gods, waiting to be gobbled up by a bigger god? In short, can God be trusted? Chs. 13-35 have sought to answer that question in four main sections: chs. 13-23; 24-27; 28-33; 34-35. In the first, God’s lordship over each of the nations is asserted. In the second, it is shown that God is not merely the reactor to the nations, but is in fact the sovereign Actor on the world’s stage. In the third, the superiority of God’s counsel over that of the merely human leaders is shown. Finally, the last two chapters show the ultimate results of the two courses of action, with ch. 35 ending at exactly the same point as chs. 11-12, with the promise that God can, and will, redeem. He may be trusted. However, the issue remains: is this merely abstraction or can it become concrete reality? Ahaz had proved that the nations cannot be trusted. But what of God? Can his trustworthiness be demonstrated or only asserted? Must his promises for the distant future be clung to blindly or can an earnest of their reality be experienced now? This is what chs. 36-39 are about." [Note: Oswalt, p. 627.]

Similarly, Romans 9-11 vindicates God’s righteousness.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 35". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.