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Sing in the Desert 

Sing like the desert that becomes a rose

Isaiah 35.1, 2

This sermon inspired by:

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • June 9, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. Can anything good come from a desert? 
    1. That is like asking whether anything good can come from Nazareth.
    2. It is like asking whether anything good can come from the land of Israel.
      1. Can anything good come from a log cabin in Kentucky, February 12, 1809?
      2. Can anything good come from Grants Pass?
        1. Does a canary sing in a cage?
        2. Does a fish swim in an aquarium?
    3. Yes, something good can come from the desert, and
      1. every person has gone through spiritual deserts, and
      2. all successful people have experienced desolations of the spirit.
  2. Isaiah 53 prophesies extensively about the suffering of the Messiah. 
    1. The first three verses show the great sadness,
    2. of the Messiah in a spiritual desert,

      1 Who has believed our report?
      And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
      2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
      And as a root out of dry ground.
      He has no form or comeliness;
      And when we see Him,
      There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
      3 He is despised and rejected by men,
      A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
      And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
      He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
      (Isa 53.1–3)

      1. Yet, did Jesus sing while in that desert?
      2. Did He sing after being in the desert?
        1. Yes, He sang during His ministry.
        2. And, yes, He sings now, even with us.
      3. His background and His life experiences before His ministry
        1. did not hint of the world-changing things He would initiate,
        2. except as those early events fulfilled prophecy.
          1. His beauty was not apparent, but
          2. the more you know Him,
            1. the more you see His beauty.
            2. So, it is with a desert.
    3. You may think you are in dark times, but
      1. do not let that depress you, for
      2. as I have already hinted,
        1. even as something good can come out of a desert,
        2. so something good can come out of your spiritual desert.
  3. So what is your life like right now? 
    1. I encourage you to have the heart of the psalmist of Psalm 63,

      1 O God, You are my God;
      Early will I seek You;
      My soul thirsts for You;
      My flesh longs for You
      In a dry and thirsty land
      Where there is no water.
      2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
      To see Your power and Your glory.
      (Psa 63.1, 2)

    2. The psalmist cried out in this manner, because
      1. God is life.
        1. Without Him,
        2. we are dead.
      2. Everything else in life eventually
        1. fails us, leaves us, or for some reason just is not there for us.
        2. However, God is the Creator.
          1. How could He ever be gone?
          2. He is the only constant in our lives.
    3. Therefore, when the psalmist was in a spiritual desert,
      1. he knew the only One upon whom he could call.
      2. He knew only One is always there for us.


  1. Isaiah 35.1, 2 – A Rejoicing Desert

    1 The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them,
    And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;
    2 It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice,
    Even with joy and singing.
    The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
    The excellence of Carmel and Sharon.
    They shall see the glory of the Lord,
    The excellency of our God.
    (Isa 35.1, 2)

    1. Isaiah had just revealed the Lord’s judgment on the nations and
      1. how He would make them desolate, but then
      2. Isaiah 35 shows the beauty of the glory of the church.
    2. In 35.1, 2 the prophet shows what the kingdom of God, the church,
      1. would be and its affect upon those around her.
      2. Spiritual waste places shall blossom,
        1. bringing singing and rejoicing, because
        2. as the last couple of lines in verse 2 declare,
          1. they shall see the glory of the Lord, and
          2. they shall see the excellency of our God.
    3. Therefore, I say to you the words of verses 3 and 4,

      3 Strengthen the weak hands,
      And make firm the feeble knees.
      4 Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
      “Be strong, do not fear!
      Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
      With the recompense of God;
      He will come and save you.”
      (Isa 35.3, 4)

      1. Are you weak right now?
        1. Be strong, because
        2. you do not have to fear.
          1. Your God will defeat those who hurt you or depress you.
          2. He will save you and lift you up.
      2. Just be patient, and
        1. do not focus on yourself, but
        2. set your gaze on our God and see what He does in your life.
    4. Use your time in your spiritual desert to learn some things.
  2. Learn to See Beauty in the Desert 
    1. Unfortunately we have come to believe
      1. that there is only beauty in an abundance of trees.
      2. However, man does not live by trees alone, but
        1. by everything God gives on the Earth.
        2. There is beauty in rocks and formations.
          1. Some of the most beautiful places in America
          2. are in deserts, such as
            1. the Grand Canyon and
            2. Arches National Park.
    2. Desert roses form when
      1. certain crystals, water, and pressure push
      2. these things to the top, and they acquire sand.
    3. When you are in a spiritual desert you may think beauty does not exist.
      1. It seems to be life without hope.
      2. It seems to be life without resources.
      3. It seems to be life without relationships.
        1. However, God is fashioning you into a desert rose.
        2. He uses the adverse conditions of your life
          1. to make a spiritual desert rose out of you,
          2. making you into something that He values.
            1. Therefore, look for reasons to sing in your spiritual desert.
            2. Do not despair.
    4. You see, we may not have done something wrong, but
      1. we just needed more training, or something else.
      2. After all who would say that he or she is perfect?
    5. The Lord may not even be doing it
      1. for your benefit, but
      2. someone else’s.
        1. Acts 8 shows the Lord moving a preacher to a desert,
        2. using an angel to take Philip away from a successful work in Samaria
          1. to a desert road
          2. for the benefit of the Ethiopian treasurer,

            26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert (Acts 8.26).

            1. There was absolutely nothing in it for Philip,
            2. other than gaining a new brother in Christ, but
              1. shortly after the Ethiopian’s conversion,
              2. the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away and
                1. the Ethiopian went back to Ethiopia.
                2. Philip’s desert experience was for someone else’s sake.
    6. Why did Moses live in the wilderness between the ages of 40 and 80?
      1. He may have gained valuable experiences, but
      2. when he was 80 to 120, he led Israel through a wilderness.
    7. Why did Jesus spend 40 days in the desert wilderness?
      1. Was it for His benefit?
      2. Did He need to learn something?
        1. No, in both cases, but
        2. He did it for our sake.
    8. Why did Paul go to Arabia? (Gal 1.15–17)
    9. Therefore, your desert like experience
      1. might be for your sake, but later
      2. it might be for someone else.
    10. When you are in the desert you can find many amazing things.
      1. There truly is beauty in the desert,
      2. although it may not be apparent initially.
        1. Likewise, you may not see beauty in your spiritual desert experience, but
        2. keep your eyes open and you might be surprised by what you find.
    11. Is God
      1. developing you,
      2. training you,
      3. forming you,
      4. molding you
        1. in your desert experience?
        2. Through Hosea, the Lord promised He would say to His people,

          14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
          Will bring her into the wilderness,
          And speak comfort to her.”
          (Hos 2.14)

  3. Enhance Your Spiritual Desert Experience 
    1. Walk by faith, not by sight (2Co 5.7).
    2. God might be testing you to see whether you will obey Him (Gen 22; Deu 8.2).
    3. In everything give thanks (Eph 5.20).
    4. Examine yourself whether you are in the faith (2Co 13.5).
    5. Record your thoughts, like the psalmists did.
    6. Search the Scriptures.
    7. Learn to pray the Psalms.
    8. Worship God.
      1. Some people want to stay away when in a spiritual desert.
      2. The psalmists longed for God and to worship Him.
      3. Job did it when he lost everything (Job 1.20).
      4. David did it when he lost his first son with Bathsheba (2Sa 12.20).
    9. Learn to fear God for nothing (Job 1.9).


  1. The Lord saving us from hellfire is the ultimate experience of 
    1. a desert singing because it has become a rose.
    2. Think of it.
      1. We were headed for eternal separation from God.
      2. Hell was our destination.
        1. That is worse than a desert,
          1. being in one, or
          2. being like one.
        2. Then God works this wonderful plan to save us from eternal torment,
          1. so that now we are headed for an eternity with God.
          2. Heaven is our new destination.
  2. Remember that we often grow the most 
    1. when we are without hope, or seemingly so,
      1. as when Israel came up against the Red Sea
      2. with the Egyptian army behind them.
    2. Yet, Moses told Israel (Exo 14.13, 14),
      1. not to fear,
      2. stand still, and
      3. watch the Lord fight for them, and
        1. the Lord promptly opened the Red Sea,
        2. blocked the Egyptians from following, and
          1. commanded Israel to march across,
          2. later destroying the Egyptians.
    3. We can learn from Israel’s experience that,

      “The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.”
      – Havelock Ellis

      “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”
      – Charles A. Beard

  3. What desert are you in right now? 
    1. Stay with the Lord.
    2. He is using your situation
      1. to mold you into the image of Jesus Christ.
      2. That does not mean it is always pleasant.
        1. However, with a congregation of people praying for you,
        2. you can endure it, and you can grow from this experience.