Isaiah 33:10-35:10; Galatians 5:13-18; Psalms 64:10; Proverbs 16:28-30
OT: “Strengthen the weak hands, steady the shaking knees! Say to the cowardly: “Be strong; do not fear! Here is your God; vengeance is coming. God’s retribution is coming; he will save you.” Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the parched ground will become a pool, and the thirsty land, springs. In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs, there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus. A road will be there and a way; it will be called the Holy Way. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for the one who walks the path. Fools will not wander on it. There will be no lion there, and no vicious beast will go up on it; they will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk on it, and the ransomed of the Lord will return and come to Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy. Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee.” (Isaiah 35:3-10 CSB)
Isaiah was living and writing during a time of God’s discipline and correction of His covenant people. Assyria had conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and had basically laid waste to much of the southern kingdom of Judah. The people living in Jerusalem were relatively sequestered within the city walls, because to leave the protection of the city was to put your life in danger. God allowed Isaiah to see beyond the current circumstances of the day and encourage the weary inhabitants of Jerusalem.
With prophetic vision, there is often an initial fulfillment, subsequent fulfillments, and then an ultimate fulfillment. To the weak and weary inhabitants of Jerusalem, Isaiah gave encouragement of an initial fulfillment. God’s vengeance and retribution was coming. Assyria and the neighboring nations would not run roughshod over Jerusalem forever. God would bring justice. But beyond the initial fulfillment, Isaiah had a vision of a new and glorious kingdom to come.
In Luke 7:18-23, we read the story of when John the Baptist was a little unsure of Jesus’ Messiahship. John sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was indeed the Promised One. Jesus’ response came right out of this prophetic passage from Isaiah. Jesus said, “Go and tell John that the eyes of the blind are opened, the ears of the deaf are unstopped, the lame are walking, the gospel is being preached and people are responding.” Basically, Jesus was saying that the kingdom that Isaiah saw was now present through Him. After Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to be with us, abide in us, and fill us with His life. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit within us, the promise of the coming kingdom took on a new level of fulfillment. Through the Holy Spirit, believers in Christ have access to a never ceasing, ever-abundant stream of life. In a way, walking in the power and leadership of the abiding Holy Spirit is a fulfillment of the “Holy Way” (or in other translations, the Highway of Holiness).
Through faith in Christ and the filling of the Holy Spirit, we are living now in the “Year of the Lord” – the year of jubilee where all our debts have been forgiven and we are free. The ultimate “day of vengeance” has not yet come. There will, however, come a day when God’s vengeance and reckoning will fully come. Then, after that reckoning, Isaiah’s prophecy of a kingdom of peace and joy on the earth, inhabited only by the redeemed and righteous, will fully be realized.
NT: “For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another. I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:13-18 CSB)
Though we have been set free from the burden and requirements of the law through faith in Christ, it does not mean that we have license to live any way we like and do anything we want. By placing saving faith in Christ, we make Him our Lord. By being redeemed by His shed blood, we are no longer our own, but His. Our Savior and Lord has called us to be holy as He is holy – to no longer live according to the desires of our flesh, but to live according to His desires, and do everything from a motivation of love for God and love for one another. Though we live in the flesh, we do not live according to the flesh. The only way to do that successfully is to walk by the Holy Spirit within us. Walking by the Spirit is the Holy Way… it is the Highway of Holiness that has been made available to us by faith. As we allow ourselves to walk by the Spirit and be led by the Spirit, we will not carry out the desires of the flesh, and will not be under the confining restraints of the law. As we walk by the Spirit and allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit, we will walk in holiness and be made more and more holy as we are transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ from glory to glory.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that through faith in You I am made free… not free to do whatever I want, but free to live for You fully in the life that You have called me to live. You call me to live in holiness, but You do not expect me to be holy in my own strength and abilities. Thank You for providing a way to holiness. Thank You for providing Your Holy Spirit to live in me, empower me and lead me on the highway of holiness. I commit to walk by the Spirit in Your holy way and not according to my flesh. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.