When I first became interested in God (or rather, when God first reached out to me), I was not a spiritually minded person. But I did have an interest in what I considered practical matters.
One of the first big concepts involving God to grab my attention was the promise of restoring the earth’s deserts back to useful and productive lands that would benefit humanity. I liked the idea that Bible prophecies took into account the changes and repair work needed to fix problems on planet earth.
God wants to restore people too!
Later I learned that God’s more important work is spiritual in nature. I know now that our Creator is working to restore humanity to Himself. I know He has begun the process of restoring me to Himself and building me up into the fullness of Christ. And I know He gives me His promise He will continue that work until it’s completed (unless I refuse to let Him—see Philippians 1:6 Philippians 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×). Still, turning the deserts of the world into lush farms and gardens has a lot of appeal for me.
Planet earth has plenty of desert and arid land. After the polar desert of Antarctica, the Sahara is the second largest at 9 million square kilometers. Right after the Sahara are the Arabian Desert (2.3 million square kilometers), and the Syrian Desert (520,000 square kilometers). The Middle East and North Africa contain a lot of serious wasteland areas!
God's restoration plan in Scripture
Here are just three places in scripture where God tells us He intends to revitalize the desert places in the future: Isaiah 35:5-8 Isaiah 35:5-8  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
American King James Version×, Isaiah 41:17-20 Isaiah 41:17-20  When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue fails for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.  I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the middle of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.  I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:  That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it.
American King James Version×and Isaiah 44:3-4 Isaiah 44:3-4  For I will pour water on him that is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground: I will pour my spirit on your seed, and my blessing on your offspring:  And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
American King James Version×. In these promises God speaks of an actual physical restoration of land, streams, plants and animals. He provides a vivid and easy-to-understand scenario all of us can picture in our minds, and He pinpoints the key ingredient needed: streams of water.
In each set of verses mentioning the restoration of dry and lifeless deserts, God also speaks to the restoration of humanity, both physically and spiritually. The eyes of the blind will see, the deaf ears will hear, the lame will leap and run, the poor and needy will be satisfied. Yet we also are told about a highway of holiness people can walk in, picturing a humanity where people will consider and understand the reality and power of God, and the Holy Spirit of God which will be poured out upon them.
For this revitalization project the Holy Spirit is the key ingredient needed. And in God’s mind it’s like a stream of living water in a thirsty place (John 7:37-39 John 7:37-39  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.
 He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
 (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
American King James Version×).
A better hope for the future
I still hope humanity will be able to restore some of the desert lands through technology and intellect, and I know God will certainly revitalize the deserts after Christ returns. But the spiritual renewal of the people who live there (and everywhere else) must happen as well. Otherwise, human beings will simply have more lands to fight over and more pleasant places to oppress and abuse one another.
I still look forward to a time when rivers of clean pure living water will flow in dry and arid places. I just have a more complete picture of what that restoration means.