Isaiah 41:18-20      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.  I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.  I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together,  so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
As I read these words in Isaiah 41, two things come to mind.

Firstly, I think of how, later in his prophetic writing, Isaiah will take up this theme again: “Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed” (55:13).  There he links it to the purpose of the LORD’s ‘WORD’ which will “[go] out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (55:11).  So, his power to ‘water’ the Earth and cause plants and trees to grow, even in the most dry and arid places, will be an encouraging sign to us of the power of his Word to produce abundant fruit in in the hearts of the most unlikely people! (cf Psalm 126:4-6: “Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev.  Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.  He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”)

Secondly, I think of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount where he is encouraging all who want to be ‘sons of your Father who is in Heaven’ to ‘love your enemies’ because “[your Father who is in Heaven] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).  As Isaiah calls on everyone to recognise God’s ‘common grace’ as a challenge to “consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this”, so we can continue to pray that many people will be led, by observing God’s Providence, to putting their trust in him for the salvation he has so graciously provided in the life-death-and-resurrection of Jesus, his Son.
– Bruce Christian