One morning after I noticed the first signs of incipient blossoms on my coffee tree, I was sitting by my coffee tree and reading one of my favorite chapters of the Bible: Isaiah 35. There is one particular word in that passage that is sometimes translated as desert, but the version that I was reading that morning instead used a word that was closer to the original text. The first verse begins like this: “The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah will rejoice and blossom” (Isaiah 35:1 NAS).
It was the word Arabah that I noticed. The word usually is used in the Bible to refer to a wilderness of some sort or even, as we see in this case, a desert. However, it also was an region of the Middle East. Of course it is not difficult to see that this is where the Arabic people derived their name, as well as the noble Arabian horse and many other things. Another item that derives its name from that portion of the world is the plant, Coffea Arabica, the very plant under whose leaves I was sitting.
And my Arabic plant was blossoming!
Of course, I understand that this is not what Isaiah meant when he wrote that the Arabah will rejoice and blossom. Nevertheless, I thought it interesting that I was reading these words right at that moment.
However, in light of our recent history in the Middle East and what has been called the “Arab Spring” in regards to the people of many of the Arabic lands rebelling against the dictatorships ruling some of their countries, it is interesting to read these words from Isaiah. He was writing about a time that will exceed all of these events of our own time. He is speaking of an Arab Spring when even the desert places, and the dry and desolate places, will blossom! Here is some more:
The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah will rejoice and blossom like the crocus.
It will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come.”
(Isaiah 35:1-4a NAS)
The prophet continues by saying that part of the coming of God will be with vengeance against all who oppose him. As of the present, there is an offer of grace to his opponents, but that offer of grace is not limitless. There will come a time when God will give just recompense to the ungodly.
However, the main message of Isaiah in this passage is one of comfort for the people of the Lord. Even though vengeance will come, Isaiah tells the people of God that God will save them.
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah.
And the scorched land will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water. (35:5-7)
The Arab Spring of current events that we have witnessed beginning last spring may have resulted in the ousting of several dictatorial rulers, but it has not resulted in true godliness in the way that Jesus Christ taught us. Indeed, it more likely seems to have resulted in a furthering hardening against the teaching of Jesus.
What Isaiah is talking about is a springtime blossoming that will result in true godliness. He is talking about, but he is talking about the True Arab Spring!
A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, and fools will not wander on it…The redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. (35:8-10)
This is the Arab Spring that I truly await.