The Way of Holiness
Scripture readings: Revelation 21
A few weeks ago Scott’s school had a fun fair. Apart from the fact that it rained all day, it was a good time and the school council raised lots of money. One of the games that was part of the fun fair was a game called the cake walk. The game is sort of like hot potato, instead it involves a cake and the goal is to be the one that actually ends up with the cake. To prepare for this game the school council asked that parents bake up a whole bunch of cakes. What a scene it was. In the one classroom, on the tables was 50-60 cakes of all flavors. Some were professional looking. Some were kind of funky. Some were round, others were square. Some were one layer, some two and a few were 3 layers thick.
This morning we are going to study Isaiah 35 together. If for a moment, we can compare Isaiah 35 to a cake, rest assured it is not a single layer cake. Neither is Isaiah 35 a double layer cake. Isaiah 35 is like a triple layer cake. This is so because the prophecy of Isaiah 35 relates to: a. Judah’s near future b. The first advent of Jesus. c. The second coming of Jesus.
I trust you came with an appetite to learn this morning. Let’s dig in and turn now to Isaiah 35.
Things to note before reading the text
It’s important to enter into a reading of Isaiah 35 with the images of destruction in mind. Can you do that? Can you picture in your mind a ruined, ravaged, wrecked, judged world? Can you build a scene in your head of toppled buildings, the bones of dead lying unburied, overgrown properties, stuff strewn and broken everywhere and wild animals on the prowl? This is pictured and announced in Isaiah 34. It is the backdrop to Isaiah 35. READ TEXT
1. What is the mood of Isaiah 35?
Joy, gladness, rejoicing, celebration, hope.
Do we have cause for joy and gladness? YES we do.
Why? Because God is awesome! We have an incredible Savior in Jesus Christ. God has given us some amazing promises. Forgiveness. Peace with God.
2. What does Isaiah 35 describe? An incredible reversal engineered by God!
A desert blooming. A joyful earth. Instead of fear, confidence. Instead of oppression- deliverance. Laughter instead of tears. Joy instead of sorrow. Sight instead of blindness. Hope instead of despair. The lame leaping. The mute shouting for joy. Burning sand becoming a pool of water. Safety instead of danger. No longer will Jerusalem be a place of bloodshed, violence, and unfaithfulness to God.
What Isaiah speaks of here cannot be merely limited to the days that were to follow Israel’s captivity. It is more than evident that many of these elements refer to Jesus in his first coming and second. Hence these verses of hope and promise are very much for us today. They are for us a source of great excitement and hope.
3. In evil times how are the followers of God to live? v.3-4
Do we live in evil times? Sure we do……
Please take a closer look with me at verses 3-4
a. These words first served as an encouragement to Isaiah’s hearers.
b. Through the centuries these words have been a refreshing source of hope
c. For us and particularly for those who are severely persecuted for their faith in Jesus, these are very timely words
What’s the message:
The wicked are not going to get away with their evil deeds. They will be punished. Justice will be done. God never forgets his children. God is coming to put an end to the wicked—so hold on to your faith.
What will our response be? We shall say as the saints of Revelation 16:5-6 “”You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”
Jesus warned us ahead of time that the Christian life would be tough. We need to stay faithful.
4. To whom do the good and true promises of Isaiah 35 belong?
a. They belong exclusively to the redeemed!
b. They belong exclusively to those who are walking on the Way of Holiness!
Have you been redeemed? Are you one of the redeemed? Do you know what it means to be redeemed?
There is a hymn that has these words
Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever I am.
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
His child and forever I am.
Redeemed and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.
I think of my blessèd Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long:
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.
To be redeemed means to be set free:
The Bible says that apart from Christ that one is in bondage to sin and Satan and hence their destiny is Hell and judgment. In Christ one is set free and forgiven. Heaven is now ones home.
A person’s redemption comes at a great cost. Forgiveness does not cheap.
The price: The shed blood of Jesus as a sacrifice on the cross. The holiness and justice of God demanded it. The wages of sin is death and judgment. Jesus paid the price. He was judged. He was punished that we who repent of our sins and believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord may be saved.
Jesus is the only Redeemer
He the perfect sacrifice for sin and the only mediator between God and man
Are you walking on the Way of Holiness? Are you striving to live a holy life?
To aid me in this point I will now read from a sermon that J.C Ryle wrote in the 1800’s entitled “We must be holy”
We must he holy on earth before we die, if we desire to go to heaven after death. If we hope to dwell with God for ever in the life to come, we must endeavour to be like Him in the life that now is. We must not only admire holiness, and wish for holiness: we must be holy.
Holiness cannot justify and save us: holiness cannot cover our iniquities, make satisfaction for transgressions, pay our debts to God. Our best works are no better than filthy rags, when tried by the light of God’s law. The righteousness which Jesus Christ brought in must be our only confidence,—the blood of atonement our only hope. All this is perfectly true, and yet we must be holy.
We must be holy, because God in the Bible plainly commands it. "As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15,16).
We must be holy, because this is one great end for which Christ came into the world. "He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:15).
We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we have a saving faith in Christ. "Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:17,26).
We must be holy, because this is the only proof that we love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. What can be more plain than our Lord’s own words? "If ye love Me, keep my commandments." "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me." (John 14:15,21).
We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we are God’s children. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." "Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God" (Rom. 8:14; I John 3:10).
Lastly, we must be holy, because without holiness on earth we should never be prepared and meet for heaven. It is written of the heavenly glory, "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:27). St. Paul says expressly, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14).
Would you be holy: Would you be partakers of the Divine nature? Then go to Christ. There is not a brick nor a stone laid in the work of our sanctification till we go to Christ. Holiness is His special gift to His believing people; holiness is the work He carries on in their hearts, by the Spirit whom He puts within them. He is appointed a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance as well as remission of sins: to as many as receive Him He gives power to become sons of God. Holiness comes not of blood,—parents cannot give it to their children; nor yet of the will of the flesh,—man cannot produce it in himself; nor yet of the will of man, —ministers cannot give it you by baptism. Holiness comes from Christ. It is the result of vital union with Him: it is the fruit of being a living branch of the true vine. Go then to Christ, and say, "Lord, not only save me from the guilt of sin, but send the Spirit, whom Thou didst promise, and save me from its power. Make me holy. Teach me to do Thy will."
Do you know that you are either on one of two highways?
In Proverbs 7:21 it speaks of how the house of the prostitute is a highway to the grave and ultimately Hell. Here in Isaiah by contrast there is the Way of Holiness.
Which path are you on?
If you have confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior. If you have with a repentant heart gone to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. If you are now striving to live out the commitment that you personally and consciously made to Christ, then you are on the path to Heaven.
1. As mentioned, this prophecy has 3 layers to it.
a. Some of this prophecy refers to the exile that the inhabitants of Judah were soon to experience.
b. Some of this prophecy refers to the first coming of Jesus
c. Much of this prophecy, as I have pointed out, refers to the glorious second coming of Jesus and the events that will surround this time and day.
2. The good and true promises of this text belong exclusively to the redeemed, to those who are on the Way of Holiness.
Have you been redeemed? Are you on the Way of Holiness? Are you able to lay hold of these promises and claim them as your own?
If the answer is yes: Praise the Lord
If the answer is no: What’s stopping you from becoming a follower of Jesus in the manner he prescribes? What’s hindering you from repenting of your sin and committing yourself to living no longer for self but for Jesus? Don’t delay in turning to Christ.