"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." (Isaiah 35:8.)
Whatever this text may mean in terms of a millennial kingdom, the primary and ultimate spiritual reference must be to the Messiah, the Christ, in all ages the one and only Way of Life for His people. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me," (John. 14:6); and this is just as true today as it will be in any future age.
A HIGH WAY Let us note first, then, that this way of life, this way of holiness, is a high way. In fact, all the ways of God are high above the ways of men: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8, 9.) God's way in Christ, however, is so high that we cannot possibly reach it of ourselves: only in humble surrender to His saving grace do we find ourselves transported into the way of holiness: "...For everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased' and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." (Luke 18:14.)
A NARROW WAY Jesus Himself warns us that the way of life is a narrow way: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthews 7:13, 14.) This is not popular religion, but we had better be clear in our minds whether we wish to be popular with the world or accepted with God. We cannot be both. God's way is a narrow way. Boasting of broadmindedness in religion is mere scatterbrained foolishness. The only right way is God's way, and His way is Christ, and His Christ is the Christ of the Bible.
A HOLY WAY The way of life is the way of holiness. Let us not shrink from this doctrine merely because some people have misunderstood it. Certainly we are not yet what we ought to be and what we want to be, but if we are children of God we are a holy people; that is, a people set apart. Nothing that defiles shall enter the heavenly city (Revelation 21:27), and it is written of the way of holiness in our text that "the unclean shall not pass over it." God's declared will for His people is their sanctification, or holiness, and without holiness "no man shall see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14.) "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:" (I Thessalonians 4:3.) Holiness for the true child of God must be not only a matter of legal position and heavenly prospect, but also a matter of living practice. God's choicest promises of fellowship and blessing are for those of His people whose lives in daily conduct are set apart to Him. So let us walk in the way of holiness: "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Corinthians 7:1.)
A PLAIN WAY "... Wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." (Isaiah 35:8.) Surely this is an extraordinary and exciting statement. Obviously it cannot mean that any of God's children in this world are incapable of error. What then? The word "therein," though supplied by the translators, offers one answer. Any errors we make are not in the way of holiness, but beside the way. That is, we err when we momentarily step out of the right way. This is true, but I rather doubt that it is the intended meaning. More likely, the truth here expressed is that men brought into this way by the grace of God will not err to the extent that they depart from or lose the way. Children of God may act very foolishly sometimes, but if they really are His children they will persevere in the way of holiness. It is true also that the way of holiness is plain enough even for a fool to find. If sinners go on to destruction, it is not because they cannot find the way: it is because they refuse to come this way even when it is pointed out to them.
A SAFE WAY "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there. . ." (Isaiah 35:9.) We may be physically hurt or killed, but no real or lasting harm can come to us if we are living in Christ. If we are in the way of holiness, we are in the hand of Christ and of God. "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one" (John. 10:28-30.) If we have found ourselves in the love of Christ, we can be sure that no power in heaven, earth, or hell "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:39.)
A SURE WAY "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion..." (Isaiah 35:10.) Perhaps Isaiah was thinking about Israel returning to earthly Zion, but believers in Christ have come (spiritually) "...unto mount Sian, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem..." (Hebrews 12:22.) Some natural highways are beautiful but unfinished. None of them go far enough to reach an eternal goal. But the way of holiness has been completed: Jesus finished it on Calvary's cross. And if He has brought us into His way, He will stay with us to the end of the journey. He has never lost a soul that trusted Him, and He never will. "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (John. 11:25, 26.) Nowhere is there another road like this way of holiness, in which every traveler is sure to reach his promised destination. It is a sure way, because Jesus has not only opened the road but also provides the spiritual power to take us through to the end of the journey.
A JOYFUL WAY "They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." That is the climax:, but it is written of people who "come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads." (Isaiah 35:10) Joy unmixed with sorrow awaits us at the end, but joy in the midst of sorrow encourages us on the way. The way of holiness is a joyful way, and gloomy Christians misrepresent it. They need to pray as David did, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation. . ." (Psalm 51:12.) "... The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10.) The blessed (happy) God wants His people to be blessed (happy). If you cannot enjoy God and His word and work, may He make you miserable enough to surrender to His will in Christ, that He may lift you up and set your feet in the way of holiness, the way of everlasting joy.
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist newspaper, several issues. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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