Twice Isaiah says:
Those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
(Isaiah 35:10 and 51:11.)
These are people who knew what it meant to be overtaken. That’s what their enemies had done for decades. Overtaken and taken captive. You can bet this led to much sorrow and sighing … and worse.
God promises rescue and return, Isaiah says. What more could a prisoner hope for? But rescue and return are not all. As they return, they will again be overcome, but this time it will be by gladness and joy.
Gladness and joy? These are not common for those taken captive. Sorrow and sighing are common for the captive. Where do sorrow and sighing fit in, then?
Sorrow and sighing will flee away.This is not our usual experience. Instead we think of it as a process, a slow retreat from grief and pain.
God will turn it into a rout. Sorrow and sighing will flee as gladness and joy overtake us. This is God’s promise and it was so important he had Isaiah write it down twice. How will God carry out this promise to those taken captive by sin and fear and oppression?
[Jesus] stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21.)
Jesus pointed to Isaiah’s prophecy and made the claim that he fulfilled it. If he never did anything else, he’d be condemned for his audaciousness. As it was, people condemned him anyway. But in his death and resurrection he laid to rest and overcame claims of audacity.
And this is what he has planned for you:
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4.)
Where does the quote about wiping away tears and no more death come from? Again, look to Isaiah’s writings:
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:7-8.)
The mountain in Isaiah 25 is the same as God’s dwelling place in Revelation 21. God rescues his people and gives them a home where the shroud of death is swallowed up forever. This is the home Jesus promised* in his last hours before his own death.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3.)
Being with Jesus – no wonder there is no sorrow or sighing, no wonder gladness and joy overtakes everyone.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20.)
This is a homecoming worth waiting for.