It’s a prophecy concerning them, but it has been preserved for us. Depending on how you interpret it, it’s either been fulfilled or will be fulfilled . . . or, perhaps, was partially fulfilled and is yet to be fully fulfilled. But either way, I think it’s fair to say it pictures the believer’s unseen reality today. It’s about a journey. And it’s about a road. And that road is the Highway of Holiness.
And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(Isaiah 35:8-10 ESV)
A promise for God’s ancient people, Israel. The pathway for all God’s today people, the Church. Those who are “the redeemed.” “The ransomed of the LORD” who have been bought with great price by the God of Heaven through the finished work of the Christ, God’s own Son, on the cross. We are on that highway, the Highway of Holiness.
In a sense it’s a toll highway. Access is restricted, “the unclean shall not pass over it.” Yet it is available to everyone. Accessible to all who, by faith, seek to enter the Way believing Jesus has paid “the toll” in full–His shed blood sufficient to cleanse us from all sin (1John 1:7b).
It is the Way of Holiness. Not our own, but the holiness and righteousness of Another which has been credited to our account. What’s more, while having been set apart as holy, as we travel the way we are being made holy. The Way having a sanctifying impact on all who pursue it and keep on keepin’ on.
And there’s no getting lost on this road. Having entered, no one will go astray. Sure, there may be wrong turns along the way. Maybe a detour or two. But, having entered the Way based on the work of another, the Son of God, we journey along the Way with the guidance of Another, the Spirit of God. And “they shall not go astray.” The work started will be completed (Php. 1:6). The destination will be reached. Jesus “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
Isaiah’s vision is of a highway without danger–no lion, no ravenous beast. Our reality, however, is aware of an adversary that “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1Pet. 5:8) but one who has no power over us, an enemy defeated. When we set ourselves against him, he flees (James 4:7b)–no place for him on the Road.
And this Highway leads to Zion. To God’s holy hill. To the place where His throne is established forever. To the place where His glory dwells in its fullness. And there we shall behold Him! Faith’s journey having given way to a face-to-face reality.
Any wonder that we travel the road with singing? Is it surprising that given what lies at the end of the highway, gladness and joy have a way of displacing the sorrow and sighing? Everything that is encountered in the “here and now” is seen in the context of the “there and then” and, as such, everlasting joy envelopes every mile of the journey.
The Highway of Holiness. An ancient prophecy but my current reality.
All because of grace. All for God’s glory.