Rivers in the Desert

Isaiah 41: 17 – 20

 “The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
19 I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
20 so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,

The other day I was sitting idly in my study, as Sheila will tell you I spend a lot of time sitting idly in my study, and my eye chanced upon a book on the shelves I had not taken down to read for a very long time. I see from the fly leaf that I bought it in March 1995 and it has probably sat on my various study shelves for the best part of twenty years unread. I took it down and despite the years since it had been opened I remembered the main points it was making very well, obviously it had made a big impression on me all those years ago.

The title is taken from the Isaiah passage above, ‘Rivers in the Desert’.

So when thinking about what to write for today you can imagine my surprise when quite by ‘chance’ I opened my Bible at Isaiah 41 and my eye was drawn to the bottom of the right hand column where verse 17 starts! So working on the principal a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse, I thought I had better use this!

Technical theologians will tell you these few verses form part of a “Salvation oracle” God will come to the aid of his people but it will not be an easy restitution, the wicked will be lost but those who remain faithful will be restored.

It may seem to the returning Israelites that they are still in the wilderness, that the Exile has not come to an end, for the land is barren, dry and unproductive and what will God do about it?

He will answer the poor and they will have rivers of water, trees to give them shade and fruit, not to mention timber to build with.

It is virtually a new creation, the land may not be quite as bountiful but it is heading towards Eden status.

Why and how? Because as God has said often, all things are possible with God to those who believe.


Lord God our loving Father, you know we face what seems to us to be a desert without water as we look to what life might be like after the pandemic.  Help us to have the faith that you will provide us with what we need to rebuild our communities but in a more loving and accepting way, for the glory of your name.

In your Mercy hear our prayer,