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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 35:8-11

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 18, 2008

8 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.

The word “Christian” occurs only three times in the Bible. We’re told that believers were first called “Christians” in the city of Antioch (Acts 11:26; see also Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16). Before that, our belief was known as “The Way” (Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14 and Acts 24:22). That was based in part on what Jesus said in the Gospel: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) and partly on this passage of Isaiah.

The way is Christ, and Christ is the Way.

9 No lion will be there,
     nor will any ferocious beast get up on it;
     they will not be found there.

Isaiah might be thinking of Job 28:8 here, “Proud beasts do not set foot on it, and no lion prowls there,” a comment about the deep places of the earth where miners dig in an analogy for the way mankind digs for wisdom. Wisdom can only be found where the Lord is—and where the Lord is, there is no danger for those who trust in him. There is only forgiveness, hope, and eternal life.

But only the redeemed will walk there,
     10 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. (NIV)

Isaiah quotes this very passage himself later in the book, where he says, “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 51:11).

There have been a few times in the history of the church when critics have wondered whether one man wrote all of the book of Isaiah. Based on the way the prophet turns a phrase and the ways he uses certain rare words, it would be proved critically that the whole book has one single author. But we don’t need to prove Isaiah’s authorship that way, since Jesus quotes from all the different parts of the book and proclaims “This is what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah,” (See John 12:39-40 and compare Isaiah 6:10; see John 12:38 and compare Isaiah 53:1; see Mark 7:6 and compare Isaiah 29:13; see Matthew 12:17 and compare Isaiah 42:1; and see Luke 4:18 and compare Isaiah 61:1).

Getting back to Isaiah’s words, “the redeemed from the earth” is a phrase that takes us right into the joy of judgment day (Revelation 14:3). We have been bought at a price, and this is what God promised to do all along: “The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:22).

Our salvation is secure in Jesus. His blood has covered over our sin and our guilt, and the God’s wrath has passed over us. Through the Lamb of God, we have the certain promise of eternal life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.