This is a breath of fresh air as we read about the promise of the new day that will come where there will be singing and rejoicing. God will strengthen the weak hands and he will be present with us so that we do not need to fear. If you look at vs. 5 it should sound similar to what Jesus says when he preaches in his home town synagogue in Nazareth in Luke 4:17-21 where he speaks about giving sight to the blind from the scroll of Isaiah. Now that Scripture in Luke and what Jesus says in the synagogue is actually taken from Isaiah 61 and 58. This should tell us that this theme of liberation and this theme of ministering to the most marginalized in our community is something that Jesus commands us to do.
But back to Isaiah…I love the image of a highway in the wilderness, something that is also a consistent motif in Hebrew Scripture as the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness and had no highway or no way out at all. The image of the burning sand becoming a pool and the thirsty ground a spring of water is refreshing. I can think of no other image that a person stuck in the wilderness would want.
It is interesting that this path and this vision is limited just to the people of God. No one unclean would ever be allowed on it. No threat to people would be allowed on it, like a lion for example. There will be a glad reunion as people come back to the temple rejoicing that the process of restoration begun long ago is now completed. Listen to the end of this chapter in Isaiah and take refuge/consolation in what is written.
“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”