Which desert will blossom like a rose?
The prophet Isaiah foretold that the desert will blossom like a rose (Isaiah 35:1). Who has not heard he explanation that this promise is now being fulfilled in Israel? Thereby people refer to the oases that have been created in places such as the Negev desert. When one searches on the internet with the phrase ‘the desert will blossom like a rose,’ references pop up to the desert areas in Israel. However, is that the wilderness about which Isaiah prophesied?
In the description of the wilderness in Isaiah 42 the villages of Kedar are mentioned and the inhabitants of the rock. The descendants of Kedar dwelled in the region southwest of the Babylonian empire, which today is known as the Syrian desert. Many rock dwellings and graves have been found in the Nabataean city of Petra in Jordan and in Mada’en Saleh in the north of Saudi Arabia. So these rock dwellers, who descended from Nebaioth, must have lived in the Nafud desert in the northern part of the Arabian desert.
This sheds new light on the prophecies of Isaiah. According to chapter 35 the desert will blossom like a rose. Chapter 32 tells us that will happen when ‘the Spirit is poured upon us from on high’ (Isaiah 32:15 ESV). This outpour will have remarkable consequences. Not only will the desert blossom, ‘ justice will dwell in the wilderness’ (Isaiah 32:16). Apparently more than a physical transformation will take place; there will be a spiritual change! One day the people dwelling in the desert are going to act righteously. How stark the contrast with the current situation in the areas where the Islamic State holds power.
However, God’s promises do not change, but will be fulfilled. This gives us hope concerning the future of the Middle East.
Besides the fact that there will be justice in the desert, Isaiah also speaks of the promise of a highway, that shall be called the Way of Holiness (Isaiah 35:8). So there will be a way in the desert. This leads to the question: what for?
John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 3:3, John 1:23, etc.). When we view this in light of the only four people who have been named by God before they were born, then something very special appears. Ishmael was the forerunner of Isaac, the son of promise, through whom all nations on earth would be blessed. John was the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah, through whom salvation came to the Jews and also to the non-Jews. Could it be that the Ishmaelites, the Arabs, are going to be the forerunners of the Jews in the end time, so that the descendants of Isaac and Jacob will accept the Messiah as Savior too?
When the Arabs come to faith they will certainly cause the Jews to become jealous of them (Romans 10:19) and thus prepare the way for the Jews to accept God’s salvation as well (Romans 11:25-26).
This fits seamlessly with God’s promises concerning various peoples around Israel, of whom it has been prophesied that they will worship God wholeheartedly (see Study Prophecies nations)