“The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:11). In this passage, Isaiah is telling us that in the midst of the dark times to come, some of God’s elect are going to awaken and lay hold of the Spirit of Christ. When they do so, the Holy Spirit will cause a spirit of joy and gladness to reside in them so deeply that no condition, circumstance or person will be able to steal their joy.
There may be no joy in our wicked society, among the ungodly, or even in dead, formal churches. But Isaiah speaks a word of hope to the righteous: “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law” (51:7). God is speaking here to all those who know and obey him.
We who know Christ’s righteousness are not to live as those who are without hope. We have been blessed with both the love and fear of God, and his will for us in the darkest times is to obtain his joy. Even as we see judgment falling around us, we are to sing, shout and rejoice — not because judgment has come, but in spite of it.
God reminded his people, “[I] made the depths of the sea a road for the redeemed to cross over” (51:10. He was saying, “I’m still the Lord, the worker of miracles, and my arm is still strong to deliver you.” So, what does God want his people to know in light of this truth? He says it all in one verse, Isaiah 51:11:
God looked down through the ages and said, “I’m going to have a people who will obtain joy.” You can lay hold of it and it will be yours — forever!