Water In The Desert

December 2, 2001 / No. 3074

Dear radio friends,

The verse of the Bible that we will consider today is Isaiah 35:7: “And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.” Isaiah 35 is a chapter which prophesies of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It speaks to us of the glorious and wonderful salvation which He will bring.

In the former chapter, Isaiah 34, there is foretold the catastrophic judgment of the world. In verse 4, God says that in the end of the world, at the end of time, “the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll.” Why? In verse 8 He explains: “For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.”

But here, in Isaiah 35, we have the prophecy that God will create, out of the wasteland of sin, a kingdom of heavenly splendor. Isaiah 35 is a chapter that is sublime to a believer. When we read it, the peace and the calm and the repose of the victory of Jesus Christ becomes ours. It makes our hearts abide in rest.

There are some passages in the Bible that thrill us in the victory. Romans 8: Who shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord? There are some passages in the Bible which cause our minds to be overwhelmed with the sovereign power and purpose of God. Romans 9 and 11: Who hath directed the mind of the Lord or being His counselor hath taught Him? There are other passages in the Bible which express the deepest struggles of a believer’s heart. Psalm 42: as the hart, or deer, pants after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.

But in Isaiah 35 we have a passage which is sublime, which gives some of the grandest sentences ever written. The grandeur and the wonder of it uplifts the soul of the child of God. Isaiah 35 is a chapter that is given for our repose and for our rest.

I will briefly mention to you today that there are a number of interpretations which are given to this chapter. The Jews would see it in terms of an earthly kingdom of Christ. They saw it as a promise that Christ was going to give to them what they wanted, namely, the best that this world has to give.

There is another interpretation which speaks of a thousand-year reign of Christ after a rapture and sees in this passage a millennium kingdom when the creation will be changed.

But the truth is that the chapter is speaking to us of the blessings of salvation that God will give in the church through Jesus Christ. It spans not only the present salvation that we enjoy now through Jesus Christ, but also that glorious kingdom that shall be when Christ returns yet once more at the end of the world to destroy the world and then to make the final kingdom of righteousness and glory and to present it to His Father. The chapter is filled with picturesque language. It speaks to us of a desert that shall blossom. It speaks to us of the fact that God is going to come and save us and open the eyes of the blind and give strength to the legs of the lame.

The verse that we will consider specifically for a few moments, verse 7, uses the figure of a mirage. We could translate it this way: “The glowing sand shall become a pool.” The idea is that Jesus Christ shall not be a mirage, merely a fake; but He shall be real, a real place of spiritual refreshment.

So this passage gives to us a figure that is expressive and would be especially picturesque and expressive to anyone who had ever lived in a desert. It speaks to us of the figure of our life as a great journey through a desert. It was not infrequent that people in the Old Testament had to cross a desert wilderness which was not only trackless but, more serious, was without water. And they were accustomed to experience something that we have read about: being deceived by a mirage. Traveling through the desert with the broiling sun beating down upon his head, the tired, thirsty, and weary traveler longing for water to slake his thirst would imagine that he sees water in front of him. As he went along across the sandy wastelands with the sun bearing down upon him, he would see ahead a marvelous pool of water. He would say, “I have only to get there and I will have all the water I !need. When I reach that water, my thirst shall be gone.” Only to discover that when he got there, it was just sand. It would happen again and again and again. The sun would shine on the sand in such a way as to give the appearance of a sheet of water. But it was a delusion.

This is very expressive of the truth of man in sin, of himself, apart from the true God. This is very expressive of the truth of ourselves by our own sinful nature. It teaches us that man is a traveler. Man is going somewhere. And there is nothing so characteristic of a man in sin as that, as he goes, he is deluded by what he thinks is going to give him refreshment and joy. We start out with rose-colored glasses. We think that this world is going to be a beautiful thing for us. But we become weary. We face problems and difficulties and miseries and tragedies. We begin to long for satisfaction, some place to turn, some source to give us strength and comfort in our hearts. And we begin to see what appears to be water – we look at something that we think is going to supply an inward thirst, only to discover that it is a mirage. The world of sin is constantly painting mirages in! front of us.

Now, the point of this Word is that Jesus Christ is no mirage. Jesus Christ is true and living water. He is the only place of spiritual refreshment for the heart of man.

I said that in this world spiritually there are constantly mirages being presented for men and women, places where, apparently, they are going to find satisfaction but it is nothing but sand which cannot provide water for thirst. First of all, there is the whole idea of pleasures. Often in the world, pleasure is presented as something that is going to slake a person’s thirst and satisfy him – mere pleasure. Egypt held before the boy Moses the pleasures of sin for a season, we read in Hebrews 11. The world says to you: “Are you weary, are you confused, are you distraught about all that has happened? You ask the big question: What is life all about? Do you grope for direction as a young woman? Everything that you need can be obtained through pleasure, through beauty. Live for one round of drinks after another. Sinful pleasures: lust and sex, drugs and drinking. Especially on the college level, the college culture, the drinking, the gambling, the drunkenness. All of this,” they say, “will solve your problems and difficulties. Or, at least, you will be able to escape them.” And the world organizes a whole world of entertainment – billions upon billions of dollars are spent. But all of this is nothing other than pouring sand down a parched throat. It cannot satisfy. Psalm 63, “Apart from thee I long and thirst, and naught can satisfy. I wander in a desert land, where all the streams are dry.”

It is only God, who is rich in mercy,
who can satisfy our soul.
There are others who say to us, “Wealth. The end of the rainbow. That will do it!” There are many who believe that money will buy happiness and who fall into what the Bible calls the deceit of riches. That is very easy to do. It is easy for us to find ourselves thinking, “If I had this, I would be satisfied.” The economy, then, is the answer to all of our problems. What we need is a strong economy. No matter if we have broken homes and abuse of children and murder and abortion of unborn children. Forget all of those things. If the economy is strong, everyone will be happy. You will be happy when you get that new, beautiful, 5,000 square foot home, the money, things, clothes, and cars, so that happiness will be found in what you get. Once again, the Bible says that this is sand down a parched throat. It is only God, who is rich in mercy, who can satisfy our soul. !We can have all that the world offers and lose our own soul. Besides, even before death, we would end up utterly shriveled and miserable.

There are others who say to us, “Well, then, the answer is learning.” They hold before mankind intellectual interests – art, music, philosophy. The intellectual life will supply the answers for your soul. There are others who say, along this line, “There is a New Age philosophy, a ‘feel-goodism’ about yourself. What you need to have is a strong inner-person.” And there are others who say, “The answer is change. If you are given a change, then everything will be well with you. You’re tired, you’re unhappy, you’re miserable? You want to be happy? Here is hope. Suddenly it appears on your horizon – a new wife! Get out of that tired marriage. Make a fresh one and you will find happiness. A new people, a new church, new friends. Leave your problems behind. Come work for us and you will have satisfaction.” And what is true on the personal level is also true of society. More and more, society holds before mankind the paradise that is on the horizon.

The Word of God declares, and experience proves, that it is all a mirage, it is all delusion, it is all sand. Apart from God there is nothing. The true God of the Bible, in Jesus Christ – apart from Him, the Bible declares: “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” The truth is plain! There is one living God. He is called Jehovah. He has revealed Himself upon the pages of the Holy Bible. His Son is the only Savior. Only in Him, by faith and repentance, only when you know Him, trust Him, obey Him, follow Him – only then can a soul be satisfied. The real water is Jesus Christ.

More and more, society holds before mankind
the paradise that is on the horizon.
The Word of God declares, and experience proves,
that it is all a mirage,
We read in Isaiah 35, the glowing sand shall become a pool; the thirsty land, springs of water; there shall be reeds and rushes growing. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the work of salvation that He has performed, is no mirage. It is no mere appearance of satisfaction. It is everlasting peace and satisfaction! You do not find yourself deceived, you do not find yourself sipping sand, thinking that it is water. But you find the water of life – the satisfaction and the peace of heart and soul which is to be found in Jesus alone. God’s Word begins by declaring to us a truth: You, today, are traveling. You are here today and you will be gone tomorrow. Your life is a vapor. Your life is a swift journey. And nothing in yourself, nothing in this world, can give to your heart or soul peace and joy. You are a sinner. That is your problem. You are under sin and guilty before God. Of yourself you are a fool. You would be deluded to think that you can find satisfaction apart from God.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the work of salvation
that He has performed, is no mirage.
But the gospel declares that, Christ is the reality. He stood up in the temple of Jerusalem one day, and declared, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).

How does Christ satisfy? He does this, first of all, by making us right with God. Then, secondly, by making us alive in God. You see, it all begins with God. In verse 4 of Isaiah 35 we read: “Your God will come … and save you.” He will come and save you! It is all of God – the mighty God. The gospel begins by declaring to us the truth that God is the living God. He has fullness of life in Himself. He is absolutely sufficient and glorious. He is the One who, by mighty grace, gives His Son and brings us to His Son. He gives His Son in order that our depravity and unworthiness, our sin, might be removed from Him, and that we who are lame and blind and dumb may walk and see and speak. Salvation is by grace, through Jesus Christ. And it is Jesus Christ alone who can make us right with God.

The Word of God tells you today that you are facing God. When you look in the mirror tonight, remind yourself that you are facing God. The crucial question in your life, right now, is, “How can I be right with Him?” That is the crucial question. Until you answer that question you will have no answers in life. And the Bible tells you that you cannot be right with Him of yourself. You cannot erase your sin. You can wash your face before that mirror. You can shave. You can put on the mascara. But you cannot remove the guilt of sin for your soul. All you do is increase that guilt.

The crucial question in your life, right now, is,
“How can I be right with Him?” …
Until you answer that question
you will have no answers in life.
But the gospel is what God has done – the gift of His Son, and the giving of His Son upon Calvary in the place of all those whom He knew from all eternity, His elect and His chosen, blotting out their guilt and forever making their record before Him clean and innocent, so that, in Christ, all our needs are met. Hear Him! John 10: “I am come that ye might have life more abundantly.” And the response: “In Thee my soul is satisfied. My darkness is turned to light.”

Pleasures, wealth, philosophy? TV sitcoms, government agencies? These cannot give you satisfaction! Christ is the fullness of joy. And you will not find Him a mirage. Come, come to Him, weary and heavy laden, tired and thirsty, burdened by sin. Come to Him! He is fullness of joy. In Christ is everything.

Not only is Christ the water of life because of what He has done for us, but He is the water of life because of what He does in us. He leads us to the Father. And He sets our feet upon a sure path.

If you read Isaiah 35, you will see that the chapter continues to speak of a way of holiness, that the desert not only becomes a pool of water and becomes a lush place of vegetation, but that there is a highway through this desert. It is a beautiful highway. It is shaded and it is safe and it leads up to Zion, to the presence of God. It says that there shall be no lion there and no ravenous beast shall go upon this pathway. These things shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk upon this pathway. In Christ is perfect safety. He is the One who gives us to walk and to live in holiness before God. He is the One who creates in us so that our heart loves what God loves and we delight in God and we put our trust in Him. This is the work of Jesus Christ, so that we, too, go up to Zion with songs and everlasting joy in our hearts. We obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. It is a glorious transformation.

Christ is no mirage. Christ is the living water.

We began in the desert hopeless and thirsty. Nothing could satisfy. We began blind and lame and deaf. We began living in a land filled with scorpions stinging us, sin all around us, hopeless. But the mighty grace of God brings us to a pool where we may be washed, where we might have our thirst slaked and satisfied, our eyes opened and our legs strengthened and our ears unstopped. Then, dressed and cleaned, we are put upon a pathway to eternal life. We are given, in Christ, joy and gladness. We have the joy of forgiveness. We have the gladness of adoption unto the children of God. There is nothing so wonderful as this. In Him our soul is satisfied, our darkness has turned to light.

Let us praise God, now and always, for that grace that is in Jesus Christ.

Let us pray.

Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word. We pray for its blessing upon us in this day, that we may find in Jesus Christ the gift of grace – all things for the satisfaction of our soul. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.