The holy highway: Isaiah 35

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Today’s reading: Isaiah 31-35.

I’ve been hiking in the desert when it was so hot and dry that you would die without the water you carried with you. I’ve also been there in the spring when the streams overflowed with water, rushing through the sand and past the cacti in a way that seemed impossible in a previous season. Isaiah uses these miraculous desert streams to describe the transformation God brings in a believer’s life. The transformation begins when one steps onto the holy highway.

Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:6-10

It’s a way out of the desert. It’s a road from the dead dryness of a life without God’s blessings.

A clear way. It’s a raised up roadway. There isn’t any doubt about where the path lies. “This is the way; walk in it.” It’s the way of Jesus. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” The problem for people in the western world is not that they fail to see the road, but that they reject it.

A way that is holy. Holy means set-apart. The LORD, who created the highway, is set-apart from all imperfections. His holy highway leads travelers into his presence. They must set themselves apart from a godless life in order to travel it. They aren’t holy before they enter the roadway, but they become holy, set-apart, sanctified – by the Holy Spirit – as they walk the way.

A secure way. Isaiah says there are no wild beasts to threaten travelers on this road. It’s his way of saying that the LORD protects those who travel on it. There may be difficulties along the way, but those who travel this highway are certain to reach the destination. In regards to the security of our salvation, those who remain on the holy highway cannot lose it.

A way for the redeemed and ransomed. The highway isn’t for everyone. The wicked won’t be there, nor the fools. The redeemed will be. These are those who have been bought back by their kinsman-redeemer. Jesus is the kinsman-redeemer who offers to buy back all of mankind – if they accept his offer by faith. The ransomed will be there. These are the travelers who have been set free, delivered from danger, and rescued by payment of the ransom price. Jesus paid the ransom for our sin at the price of his own life.

A joyful way. The pilgrims on this road show their joy by their singing. They are glad because sorrows are left behind as they travel farther down the road.

A way home. The road leads from the desert and ends up in Zion. For some it was or will be the actual city of Jerusalem. For others it will be the new Jerusalem, our heavenly home. It’s a highway to an eternity of fellowship with God, beginning now and continuing in heaven.

Engineering has done much to tunnel mountains and bridge abysses, but the greatest triumph of engineering is that which made a way from sin to holiness, from death to life, from condemnation to perfection! Who could make a way over the mountains of our iniquities but Almighty God? None but the Lord of Love would have wished it. None but the God of Wisdom could have devised it. None but the God of Power could have carried it out. Charles Spurgeon

image by JoelDeluxe on Flickr, CC by 2.0

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