TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 41-43
“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water. and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the place and the pine together, that they may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” – Isaiah 41:17-20
We know that the Holy One of Israel is Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, in Luke 1:35, the angel told Mary, “Therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.” In Luke 1:49, Mary sang, “Holy is his name.” And, in John 6 many of Jesus’ disciples turned back and stopped following him. So, he asked the twelve if they wanted to leave him too. In John 6:68-69, Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
In addition, we know that this passage is about something that Jesus does because the Holy One of Israel created. In Jesus: The Creator, I wrote that God is the only subject of the verb bara, to create. And, in the New Testament, we see the power of creating is identified with Jesus. Everything was made by and through Jesus.
So, we know that this passage speak to Jesus creating. He creates it.
But, what is it?
What is Jesus creating?
In this passage the poor and needy are seeking water. And, God says he is going to bring a bunch of water and trees. So, are we to understand that Jesus is creating physical water and physical trees in answer to the thirst of the poor and needy? Is this what the poor and needy “may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this?”
Or, is the passage speaking to something much deeper, something beyond the physical, something spiritual?
I believe when you study the the word bara, to create, you will find that it does not really have to do with the physical creation of something. Rather, it has to do with the giving of purpose, how something functions.
Consider David’s plea to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Was David asking for God to physically create a new heart within him? Of course not. David was asking that his old heart, which functioned in the manner of lies and murder, would be created clean. That is, David wanted his old heart, which did the wrong thing and functioned in the wrong way, to be given a new purpose and new function, one that was clean, by God. This is just one example of many in the Old Testament where the word bara speaks to function and purpose and not physically making something.
So, what is it that Jesus has purpose and functioned?
We know that the poor and needy are thirsty, seeking water, and that Jesus will answer them and not forsake them.
This brings to mind Jesus’ encounter at the well with the Samaritan woman. In John 4:13-14, Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
It also brings to mind what Jesus said in John 7:37-38. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”
Jesus said drinking physical water will leave you thirsty. So, he is giving a different kind of water, spiritual water, that when you drink it you will never thirst again. This spiritual is a spring of water is eternal life. And, when we come to Jesus and drink this spiritual water, it will flow out of hearts like rivers of living water.
Back to the passage in Isaiah, we can then understand that the poor and needy will not be forsaken by Jesus. Jesus will open rivers and fountains and make pools and springs. In other words, there are those that will be desperate for life and Jesus will give it to them.
We know that when Jesus is speaking of the water that he gives that he is speaking of eternal life. But, more specifically, he is speaking of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 44:3 says, “For I will pour out my water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Here the water Jesus gives is equated with the Holy Spirit and the thirsty and dry land with people.
But, notice there are four types of water and places mentioned in Isaiah:
- rivers on the bare heights
- fountains in the midst of valleys
- a pool of water in the wilderness
- springs of water in the dry land
So, whether it is a high place or low, whether it is the grassy plain or the desert, Jesus is going to fill these four places with water, not physical water, but spiritual water. But, the number four symbolizes the entire creation in scripture.
So, what is Jesus creating here? What is he purposing? What is he “functioning”?
I believe this is a picture of Jesus filling the earth, all creation, with his Spirit, with the knowledge of himself.
Habakkuk 2:14 says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
The same words are found in Isaiah 11:9, which says, “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
So, we seeing Jesus pouring out his Spirit to give knowledge of the Lord to the whole earth, all of creation. Jesus said that this was the reason the Holy Spirit would come – “he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” and “when the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” and “he will glorify me.”
So, what is the effect of the pouring out of the Spirit who fill the earth with the knowledge of God?
According to our passage in Isaiah, trees will sprout up in the wilderness and desert. But, all throughout the Bible, trees represent people. And notice the number of types of trees that will come forth:
Seven types of trees will come forth from all this water filling the creation. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection.
So, when we combine all these pictures, what we see is that Jesus gives purpose and function as he pours out his Spirit upon the whole creation, and it is this pouring out of his Spirit that spiritually perfects mankind as he is filled with eternal life.
This is it.
This is what Jesus created.
This what the poor and needy “may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this.”
It’s not about physical trees and water that Jesus is creating. Ultimately, this does nothing for the poor and needy. Rather, Jesus is creating life and spirit within all creation and mankind.
Jesus said in John 6:63-64, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”