Summary: Through Jesus is the only way to heaven. All other ways are dead ends adn we need Him to lead us through the journey of life.
Isaiah 35:3-10 reads, “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, be strong, do not fear! Behold your God will come with a vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; It 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, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Blessed be the reading of God’s Word this morning.
In 1981, a Minnesota radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California. Police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief. On the front seat of the stolen car sat a box of crackers as rat bait. Now the police and the owner of the VW Bug were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to get the car back. So often when we run from God, we feel we’re trying to escape His punishment. But what we are actually doing is eluding His rescue.
So it is with this morning’s Scripture. It begins by telling us about how God is coming to take vengeance. It also talks about how everything will be made new. It especially talks about a special road we can all choose to take and the benefits of staying on that road. The question is – will we, like the car thief ignore the call to come back or will be take this Highway to Holiness that Isaiah talks about?
But in order to take this Salvation Superhighway, this Highway to Holiness we have to, like Isaiah, we have to acknowledge the weakness in others and especially the weakness in ourselves. The things we say to encourage or lift others up with we must believe and be encouraged by them ourselves. We need to give out real hope. You see, there are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.
The author, Isaiah the prophet, often seemed to have no hope about the situation that Israel was in. Much like today, we look at Israel and see no peace, no solution, no hope for a country that has terrorism and war every other day. Isaiah prophesied that Israel would be severely judged along with the other nations. He writes in the previous chapter, “He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to the slaughter. Also their slain shall be thrown out; Their stench shall rise from their corpses, And the mountains shall be melted with their blood.”
Isaiah was not just a prophet of doom and gloom. He knew that the people always had a choice. Just like us today we have a choice of how we will encourage each other. Verses 3 and 4 do that. They talk of strengthening weak hands and shaky knees. Isaiah talks about helping those who are in fear all the time. He encourages them by saying that God will come with justice and a vengeance on the enemies of God.
I know that is not always popular to talk about the vengeance of God, His divine justice. Most of the time we would rather hear about how God is loving, forgiving and compassionate, ‘slow to anger.’ But without justice there can be no peace. Without justice there is no truth. If there were no justice behind the law then everybody would do what they wanted because there wouldn’t be consequences for things like robbery, rape, and murder.
Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray once told a man who had appeared before him in a lower court and had escaped conviction on a technicality, “I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and there you will be dealt with according justice and not according to law.” Later, surprised while robbing a house in Belgium, the thief fled out the back door, clambered over a nine-foot wall, dropped down on the other side, and found himself in the city prison.