The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
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.
- Isaiah 35:1-10 (NRSV)
Back to the start
Restoration means many different things. To some in means spending time with an old piece of furniture until its original beauty shines through. For others, it means months of sanding, painting and cleaning an old classic car until it looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor in 1946. For others, it may mean hours of physical therapy until the new knee works at least as good as the old one–without all the pain.
Webster’s Dictionary says to restore something is “to put or bring back into existence or use; to bring back to or put back into a former or original state.” Some would add to make it better than it was.
Restoring humanity back to an authentically positive relationship with God was one of God’s reasons for Christmas. Restoration was God’s way of bringing humanity back to their original purpose which was, as the Westminster Catechism says, “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
Ever since the Garden of Eden, God has been at work restoring all of us to our original nature and purpose. That restoration took on many forms, Noah’s flood, the call of Abraham, the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, sending the prophets to a rebellious people, and finally sending Jesus and the One who would lead us back to God.
This Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent, typically a day marked by joy. We celebrate Mary’s joy of becoming the vessel through which Jesus would come, the joy of the shepherds who first heard the news of Jesus’ birth, and the joy of our deliverance from sin and death. One this Third Sunday of Advent we light the one pink candle as a symbol of all that joy.
Isaiah 35 gives us a picture of the joy of weary travelers, who learn that they are almost home. They encourage one another, strengthen hands and knees and begin singing for joy as they view their home on the horizon. Restored!
We all need restoration in our lives. For some of us we need restoration because we made some poor decisions that took us down the wrong road. For some, other people blocked our way deliberately, and we had to look for other paths. For others, we have been wandering in the wilderness so long, we have forgotten what normal looks like. However, for every one of us, there is a homecoming, a restoration that God provides.
Let’s take the time to encourage each other, to strengthen our hands and feeble knees, to lift our heads in this Christmas season and our Deliverer, our Savior, Jesus.
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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.