Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts. “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” (NLT)
It will not always be like this. Our world is certainly broken even as we admit the beauty in it. We brought the brokenness on ourselves. When we went wrong, the created world went wrong. Order gave way to disorder.
But that is not God’s final plan. He has not shrugged his shoulders and given up on us. This piece of Old Testament poetry is not just speaking of the Israelites ending their exile and returning to their land. It has a bigger picture in mind. Return from exile for those ancient people of God did not mean some sort of restored paradise.
These words speak of an ultimate re creation of what the world was meant to be from the beginning. They speak of hope, which in biblical terms is not some sort of wishful thinking, but a sure confidence that God will be faithful.
So while we live in a very imperfect today, we have confidence in a new tomorrow. Not a literal “tomorrow”, but a future in which the new heavens and new earth will be fully established. It is saved from being wishful thinking by the fact that God promises it and he doesn’t make false promises.
A Christian always has an eye on two horizons. One is the mixed reality of the immediate days. The other is the perfect reality of a world that waits to be born.