“Until the Spirit be poured out upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.”
Do you really want to see a change in your life? Not simply a change of style or even in habit, but a fundamental, deep-down change, where you yourself are truly different, where the very state of your being is different. Do you want to see such a change?
In this passage, the fundamental condition of the landscape changes. The wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and fruitful field is counted as a forest. Literally, the barren desert becomes an orchard-like area of organized growing plants, and the existing orchard is reckoned as a forest–not that this orchard becomes a forest, for that would be a step-down into a disorganized state, but that the lush greenery of the orchard bursts into thickness that is reckoned as a forest! All this occurs when “the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high.”
Upon what is the Spirit poured out? Land? Interestingly, the prophet write, “Upon us.” This may be the first clue that the prophet is not dealing primarily with landscape or vegetation, but with people. Later in Isaiah, God announces that the pouring out of the Spirit upon people will be like the pouring out of water on thirsty land, producing new believers like fresh rains produce new plants (Isaiah 44:3-5). In the New Testament, this same passage is echoed in Jesus’ words to His apostles to wait for power “from on high,” which they would receive when the Holy Spirit would “come upon” them (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; cf. Isaiah 32:15 LXX; Titus 3:6).
Therefore, the landscape is poetry for certain kinds of people. In essence, the prophet is saying that when the Holy Spirit is poured out from on high, the dead become alive, and the living become abundantly alive. In other words, revival is for both the dead and the living, the lost and the saved. The only question that remains is: Which are you? Are you a wilderness in need of life, or an orchard in need of a new growth spurt through a fresh rain-shower of the Holy Spirit? Either way, the need is the same. Oh God, pour out Your Spirit on me today!
Before leaving this verse, let me point out one final detail. The word “pour out” in our text literally means “to make bare,” which occurs when a bucket is fully poured out and the bottom is thereby bared. In other words, the prophet says that someday the bucket of God’s Spirit will be emptied upon the earth. In that day, as the rest of the passage foretells, righteousness and justice will establish peace and safety for God’s people forever (Isaiah 32:16-18). Until then, we ask God to tip His bucket just a little–to get more of a taste of those great days to come. And as we ask, if we ask in faith, we have the promise of receiving, just as Jesus reasoned based on the gracious goodness of His Father: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Luke 11:13).