Reflection on Isaiah 41:13-20

I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.”
Fear not, O worm Jacob,
O maggot Israel;
I will help you, says the LORD; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.

I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and double-edged,
To thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff.
When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off
and the storm shall scatter them.

But you shall rejoice in the LORD, and glory in the Holy One of Israel.


The prophet Isaiah speaks powerful words; the Lord will not forsake us. Though we find ourselves parched with thirst and unable to satisfy our longing, in the Lord we will find our answer; in the Lord, our thirst is quenched.

God promises to make the barren desert fertile and that He will cause springs water to flow there; recall that in Christ’s crucifixion – when the body of Our Lord hung dead on the cross and as Our Lord descended into the desert of death – the soldier drove the lance into His side, and blood and water flowed forth. Water came forth from the desert.

Of course, one cannot mention Christ’s death without immediately thinking of His resurrection. In the resurrection, the desert of death was transformed into a fertile land of salvation. “I will plant in the desert the cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive;” the prophet writes. “I will set in the wasteland the cypress, together with the plane tree and the pine.” What Isaiah describes in terms of many diverse trees growing together we realize in the diversity of the people of God; all nations are called together in Christ.

And we, as a part of the people of God, are united in one family in Christ. In His death and resurrection, we “see and know, observe and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this; the Holy One of Israel has created it.” We are called into one in Christ; through the waters of Baptism and the waters that flow from His side like springs in the desert, we – though afflicted and needy – do not seek water in vain. The Lord will not forsake us.

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