The Christian’s Everlasting Joy

A word from the author:

This is a work not yet submitted for publication, written, I recall, when I was recovering from Pneumonia one winter. The work is a verse by verse commentary on Isaiah 35, which I found to be a very rich passage of Scripture.

Copyright © Timothy J Cross. These excerpts are from a pre-published work. For permission to cite, please contact the author.


Chapter 1                                THE DIVINE REGENERATION

Chapter 2                                THE DIVINE RADIANCE

Chapter 3                                THE DIVINE REASSURANCE

Chapter 4                                THE DIVINE RECOMPENSE

Chapter 5                                THE DIVINE REHABILIATION

Chapter 6                                THE DIVINE REFRESHMENT

Chapter 7                               THE DIVINE ROADWAY

Chapter 8                               THE DIVINE RESTRAINT

Chapter 9                               THE DIVINE REDEMPTION

Chapter 10                            THE DIVINE RANSOM, RETURN, REJOICING AND RELIEF









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 (Isaiah 35:1,2).


Isaiah’s prophetic telescope, given to Him by the God Who alone knows the future, enabled him to foresee and foretell many wonderful and wondrous things. In the verses here, Isaiah was enabled to see the coming kingdom of heaven in all its glorious fullness. He was enabled to see the cosmic redemption which Almighty God has promised to bring about in His Own good time.


God’s glorious kingdom


Christians are exhorted to pray ‘Thy kingdom come’  (Matthew 6:10). When we pray this, we are asking ‘That Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened’ (Shorter Catechism). Isaiah is giving us here a glimpse of God’s coming glorious kingdom. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.  Our prayers that God would bring in His kingdom will be fully and finally answered when Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled – and fulfilled it will surely be!

What will the coming kingdom of God be like? Well the kingdom of heaven in one sense defies description. It will be more glorious, wonderful and exquisite than mere words can tell. It will be, says Isaiah, as different from our current existence as life is different from death. What will the kingdom of heaven be like? Isaiah can only utilise picture language to describe its glorious reality. He says:-

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom.

            The desert is characterised by dryness and deadness. In the wilderness, everything not of God dies. Yet, says Isaiah, the wilderness of this dead world will burst into joyful life. Blossom – the forerunner of fruit which has perpetual life in its seed – will transform the barren wilderness. The desert shall bloom!

Like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly …

            The crocus is one of the first flowers of Springtime. Here then we have the end of the dark, cold and barren days of winter, and the beginning of the endless Day of God’s eternal life and Springtime. The days shall be bright and warm, for night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the LORD God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever (Revelation 22:5).

The glory of Lebanon shall be given it …

            Trees do not grow in the desert. But the land of Lebanon was characterised by majestic Cedars – the cedars of Lebanon (Isaiah 2:13). Isaiah is thus implying that the burning desert, with its heat which can kill a man, will be replaced by a place of pleasant shade and eternal safety.

The majesty of Carmel and Sharon …

            Carmel and Sharon were places well known for their corn, cattle, trees and foliage. Their fertility was in complete contrast to the barren desert. The Song of Solomon refers to the Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1). The kingdom of heaven then will also be a place of exquisite beauty and the most pleasant of fragrances.


What does Isaiah mean?


In a nutshell, Isaiah is referring here to a theme which runs throughout the Bible. It is the theme of ‘Edenic restoration.’ The Bible is the story of Paradise Lost and Paradise Restored. The message of the Bible can be summarised in three words: Creation, Deformation and Transformation – Creation, the Fall and Redemption.

Human history actually began in a beautiful garden – the Garden of Eden. All was harmonious in this garden, and God and humanity enjoyed perfect fellowship. Sin entered in though and destroyed this harmony, and Paradise was lost. The creator and the creature became alienated from each other, and death and decay came upon the whole created order. The Bible is the revelation of what God in His grace has done and will yet do to undo the ravages which sin has wrought, and restore the universe to its original glory. In His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, He has taken the initiative for our personal redemption – He sent His Son into the world so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be restored to fellowship with Him. Our verses here though are concerned with more than personal redemption. They are concerned with cosmic redemption.  They inform us that the redeemed will one day live in a redeemed universe. The glory of the first Eden will return. For the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song (Isaiah 51:3). John’s view of the coming kingdom of God was similarly depicted in terms of a glorious, garden city: Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations  (Revelation 22:1,2).


Change and decay


The hymn writer expressed true sentiments when he wrote ‘Change and decay in all around I see,’ for this current world is subject to change, decay, deterioration and ultimately death. Death and decay are consequences of sin. They are in fact penalties imposed by God Himself. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of Him Who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:20,21). The good news then is that the present death and decay is not the full and final story if we belong to Jesus. God has promised ‘Behold, I make all things new’ (Revelation 21:5). In His time 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 …


Personal Redemption


The universal transformation which Almighty God is going to bring into effect is, to a large extent, completely beyond our current comprehension. Yet, if we belong to Jesus, the re-generation and re-creation promised by God is not a wholly foreign concept. For if our faith is in Christ, we know that He has recreated us. God’s coming cosmic redemption is a global version of the personal redemption we have already experienced. The Bible tells us Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). God has already given us new life. Salvation is a divine transformation. Salvation is a divine regeneration. Christian conversion is the dawning of heaven’s eternal morning on our souls.

Isaiah foretold how one day, the dead wilderness will burst into life and bloom. It will be regenerated. Personal salvation likewise involves new life being given to dead sinners. Sin is a state of spiritual death – we are dead to our lost plight; we are dead to God’s impending judgment and we are dead to a saving knowledge of Christ Himself. Salvation though changes all this. In salvation, we are regenerated by God Himself. And you He made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked  (Ephesians 2:1,2). Salvation is a personal new-birth – regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).We now have a desire to know, love and obey God, and to feed on His Word. ‘Regeneration is that act of God by which the principle of new life is implanted in man, and the governing disposition of the soul is made holy’ (Berkhof, Systematic Theology,  p.469).


Cosmic Redemption


Personal redemption – the new-birth/regeneration – is the highest blessing we can receive in this life. Yet, on the authority of the Bible we may state that personal salvation is not the end of God’s gracious dealings with us. Our verses in Isaiah and elsewhere in the Bible hold out the prospect that God is going to do on the macro-level what He has already done in our hearts on the micro-level. The kingdom of God in all its fullness – the new world (Matthew 19:28) and restoration of all things  (Acts 3:21, RV) – is still impending.

Why though does God, through His prophet, tell us about the future glory which awaits His children? He does so, not merely to satisfy our curiosity as to the goal of His creation, but to give us hope and encouragement – to strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the weak knees  to say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, fear not!’  (Isaiah 35:3,4).

Present conditions in Isaiah’s time and ours’ might make us prone to discouragement. But our world-view is not to be informed by our circumstances or the media but by the Word of God! The Bible reveals that God has not finished with us or His world. Christians have a future hope – a confident and sure expectation based on what God has promised. Our future is as bright as the promises of God. The best is yet to be. Present hurts, handicaps, harms and hardships will one day be gone for ever, and be replaced by eternal joy – fellowship with our Maker in Paradise restored. God has said through His servant Isaiah: ‘Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind’  (Isaiah 65:17).







They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God  (Isaiah 35:2).


The blossoming of the desert, and the wonderful regeneration and transformation of all things which we considered in chapter one, has a distinct and definite cause. It is caused by the coming of the LORD in all His glory, greatness and majesty.

We may be tempted to think that the events of history are random, accidental and somewhat purposeless. To think so though is contrary to the world-view of the Bible. According to the Bible, history has a definite purpose and goal. The purpose and goal of history is the supreme glory of God – the praise of His glory  (Ephesians 1:14). God’s supreme greatness, glory, majesty and splendour will be universally and eternally manifested and acknowledged in due time. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God … that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10,11).


Glory: A Definition


What though did Isaiah mean when he referred to the glory of God ? It is difficult to define the indefinable, but the dictionary defines ‘glory’ using words such as ‘exalted renown, fame, resplendent majesty, beauty.’

The Lion Encyclopaedia of the Bible  suggests ‘‘the glory of God’ refers to His unique power and greatness’ (p.113). It then quotes 1 Timothy 6:15,16 which refers to God as the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, Whom no man has ever seen or can see. To Him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

            God’s glory then is better sensed than described. God’s glory incites our worship. He alone is truly awesome. His unsurpassed glory should inspire our reverent worship rather than our stumbling debate or theological speculation. Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name (Psalm 29:2). Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty …  (1 Chronicles 29:11). To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen  (1 Timothy 1:17):-


Immortal, invisible, God only wise

In light inaccessible hid from our eyes

Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days

Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise


Great Father of glory, pure Father of light

Thine angels adore Thee all veiling their sight

All laud we would render; O help us to see

Tis only the splendour of light hideth Thee.


The Glory of God in the Bible


When Isaiah had his inaugural vision which called him to be a prophet of God, he was given a glimpse of God’s heavenly glory. He was also privileged to hear the heavenly chorus of God’s praise. It went Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory  (Isaiah 6:3). Isaiah reveals a God of unique glory – and a God Who is jealous of and zealous for His Own glory: ‘I am the LORD, that is My name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to graven images’  (Isaiah 42:8).

The Bible itself, in-line with Isaiah’s prophecy, is the only Book which reveals just how glorious the one true God really is, for it alone is a revelation of and from the one true God. The Bible records that at certain points in history God manifested His glory to His people:-

At the time of Moses, when the tabernacle had been built, the book of Exodus reaches a crescendo when it tells how the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle  (Exodus 40:34). Then, during the days of Solomon, when the permanent temple at Jerusalem had replaced the portable tabernacle in the wilderness, 1 Kings 8:11 tells of an awesome day when the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

            During the days of the Exile, when the prophet Ezekiel ministered, Ezekiel was privileged to gain a vision of the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD  (Ezekiel 1:28). Ezekiel then relates how when I saw it, I fell upon my face.  Sadly, Ezekiel also records how God withdrew His glory from the temple at Jerusalem during those days – the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city  (Ezekiel 11:23). The cause of this was the people’s rebellion and idolatry. God’s withdrawing of His glory was a consequence of His intense jealously for His Own glory. He will not share it with anyone or anything.

Old Testament history then reveals how God periodically manifested His glory – His visible greatness – on earth, in time and space. God’s glory however reached a climax in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Glory of God’s Son


In James 2:1 we read the pregnant expression concerning the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  James’ description of the Lord Jesus here is especially noteworthy when we consider that James was actually the Lord’s brother – brother in the sense that he too was born of Mary and shared Joseph as his earthly father. James thus grew up with the Lord Jesus. He shared the same house, played in the same street and initially did the same work as the incarnate Son of God. At one time though, the Scripture records, even His brothers did not believe in Him  (John 7:5). Yet here is James, the Lord’s human brother, describing Him as the Lord of Glory. James is saying something remarkable. In the light and hindsight of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, James declares that Jesus is the glory of God. The visible glory of God – the ‘Shekinah’- which manifested itself periodically in Old Testament times actually became incarnate in the Person – the incomparable Person – of the Lord Jesus Christ. James however was not unique in his testimony to Jesus’ unique glory. John wrote how We have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father  (John 1:14), and Hebrews 1:3 tells us how He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of His nature …

            In His so called ‘high priestly prayer’ before His impending death, Jesus, speaking to His Father, referred to the glory which I had with Thee before the world was made.  Famously, on the Mount of Transfiguration, something of Christ’s pre-incarnate glory and divine splendour burst through, for the Scriptures record how the appearance of His countenance was altered, and His raiment became dazzling white  (Luke 9:29). For He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun  ((Matthew 17:2).

So the glory of Christ is explained by virtue of His Person. Who is He? He is the Son of God and God the Son. His is no borrowed glory. ‘Jesus was, in a word, the Glory of God, the Shekinah’ (BB Warfield). There is none like Christ, For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9):-


Thou art the everlasting Word

The Father’s only Son

God manifestly seen and heard

And heaven’s beloved One


In Thee most perfectly expressed

The Father’s glories shine

Of the full deity possessed

Eternally divine


True image of the Infinite

Whose essence is concealed

Brightness of uncreated light

The heart of God revealed.


They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. God’s glory and majesty was most definitely seen when He became incarnate and walked this earth. In the Person of Christ, the glory of God is seen. Yet, the glory of God is seen by Christians, not just in the Person of Christ but also in His saving Work. The Person and Work of Christ are, of course, intertwined. Paradoxically though, the glory of Christ which is the glory of God is seen most of all in His ignominious death. For it is the death of Christ which has procured the believer’s right to eternal glory. It is in the atoning death of Christ on the cross that we see the supreme manifestation of God’s glorious grace:-


The Saving Work of Christ


The Lion Encyclopaedia of the Bible  explains: ‘Jesus’ way of life and His miracles ‘revealed His glory.’ But the glory of God was seen above all in Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus went to the cross, not as a defeated man but as the conqueror of sin and Saviour of the world. His resurrection was the living proof. Because of this there is a ‘future glory’ promised to all God’s people as they share in the glory with which He will return to the earth’ (p. 113).

It is because of Jesus and the salvation He has procured for us at Calvary that we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God  (Romans 5:3). The God of all grace, … has called us to His eternal glory in Christ  (1 Peter 5:10). The Holy Spirit of God, in applying to us the work of redemption which Christ has accomplished for us, has made us partakers of the divine nature  (2 Peter 1:4). By God’s grace we shall partake of His glory!


Glory! Glory!


They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.  Was Isaiah referring to the first or second comings of Christ here? Why do we have to chose between the two? Cannot we interpret the verse in terms of ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’? Could not Isaiah’s prophetic telescope embrace both Christ’s first and second comings? God’s glory was seen in Christ, and God’s glory will yet be seen in Christ when, as Christ Himself prophesied: they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory  (Mark 13:26). The Second Coming of Christ will transform both His world and His people. Then they will fully obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:14) and Christ will be glorified in us!


The Glory of the Gospel


Matthew Henry has an apt comment when he suggests that God’s gospel and God’s glory are almost synonyms: ‘God will manifest Himself more than ever in His grace and love to mankind, for that is His glory and excellency.’ If we belong to the Lord Jesus, we know that the glorious grace and love of God has certainly been manifested in the coming of Christ from heaven into this sinful world. God sent Him to procure the salvation of His people. We may enjoy this salvation right now – a foretaste of glory –  and enjoying the salvation of God now, we are promised that we will bask in His glory for all eternity. God’s glory has most certainly already been made manifest in Christ. Yet God’s glory will yet be made manifest in Christ, for Jesus is coming again. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him  (Revelation 1:7). They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.  In a coming day then, the glory of God which is latent in heaven will be patent on earth for all to see. His glory is unstoppable. The Bible foretells of the universal glory of the God of gods, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea  (Habakkuk 2:14). And by God’s grace, when Christ comes again, we who belong to Jesus will share in His glorious glory! For When Christ Who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory  (Colossians 3:4).


Copyright © Timothy J Cross. These excerpts are from a pre-published work. For permission to cite, please contact the author.