Isaiah 35 Verse 8
THE HIGHWAY FOR THE REDEEMED
“And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; and the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for the redeemed: the wayfaring men, yea fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up thereon; they shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: and the ransomed of Jehovah shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
One of the most glorious passages in all the Word of God is these three verses. “The glory of this passage is enhanced, if that is possible, by its setting as an oasis between the visionary waste of Isaiah 34 and the history of war, sickness and folly in Isaiah 36-39.”
Another glorious thing about this chapter was pointed out by Kelley who wrote:
“Attention has often been called to the numerous parallels between Isaiah 35 and those found in Isaiah 40-66. The themes shared in common include: (1) the transformation of the desert into a lush oasis at the appearance of God, which appears also in Isaiah 41:17-20; 43:19-21; 51:3,10,11; 55:12:13; (2) the coming of God as a source of comfort and strength, found also in Isaiah 40:9-11; 52:7-10; (3) the restoration to health of the weak and infirm, appearing again in Isaiah 42:16; 61:1; (4) the preparation in the desert of a highway for the redeemed, predicted again in Isaiah 40:3-5; 49:8-11; (5) the joy of the redeemed as they return to Zion, mentioned also in Isaiah 43:5-7; 49:12-13; 51:11.”
Important as these comparisons are, Kelley’s conclusion is even more important: He wrote, “The close similarities between the two sections argue for a common background and origin.” Yes indeed! This is not only “an argument” for a common origin, it is proof of the same; and that proof has been available for all generations and is still so. Near the end of the last century. Dr. George C. M. Douglas published a book in London, entitled “Isaiah One, and his Book One!” It has never been any other way with truly intellectual and thoughtful scholars. It is wonderful to see this same thought in a Broadman Commentary!
How many “ways” are visible in this passage? The answer is, only one. But, does not the text say, “A highway and a way”; and does not that make two? That second “way” which appears here is an error. “A Hebrew word was added by mistake to the first member of the sentence.” It does not read like this in many ancient manuscripts and in the Syriac version.
The proof of Lowth’s position on this is seen in the manner Jesus Christ treated the teaching here. We already know that Christ, and only Christ, is the Highway of this passage; and yet he did not say, “I am the Highway”; but that “I am the Way” (John 14:6). The truly accurate understanding of the scriptures by Jesus is seen in the difference. For Christ to have said “I am the highway,” it might have been interpreted as an implication that there was also another way, or a low way. We have seen that some critics are unwilling to allow the comments of Christ on the Old Testament prophets as the truth, because some of such critics vainly think they are more learned than was Christ; but the truth is, none of them of whom we have ever read, is even in a class with Jesus, but far inferior to him.
“The whole atmosphere of this passage is supernatural.” This passage is not referring to any kind of an elevated roadway through a desert, but to the way of Salvation in Jesus Christ. He alone is “the way.”
Some of the language here has long been misunderstood. “Wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein” has been thought to mean that even a fool can enter the “Way” without making an error; but what is meant is that, “Fools are not permitted to enter it.” The word “fools” here carries a moral rather than an intellectual significance, “Here they stand for the irreligious, and they shall not go to and from in that way of holiness. The English Revised Version (1885) is singularly unfortunate here, since it has been commonly taken to mean that `not even a fool can miss it.'” Throughout the New Testament. the term “fool” always implies wickedness. The foolish builder who built on the sand, the foolish virgins, the rich fool who mistook his stomach for his soul, etc. were always morally deficient persons.
As Hailey summed up the lines about the wayfaring man, though a fool, “The prophet is not saying that the way is so simple that an inexperienced or unlearned person cannot miss it, but that the man who despises wisdom, being wise in evil instead, will not make the mistake of walking in it.”
Isaiah 35:10 is the glorious climax of the whole prophecy. Fortunately, we have a New Testament glimpse of some of those redeemed souls coming unto Zion in these words: “Ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable host of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).
This is not a picture of Jews coming back from Babylon, but a picture of sinners (Jews and Gentiles alike) leaving their sins and coming home to God through Christ. May we come with “songs of everlasting joy” upon our heads, as Isaiah here said. Just think, we are the “heirs of all things through Christ!” As an apostle expressed it, “Eye hath not seen, nor has ear heard, and neither has it entered into the heart of man, the good things that God has prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9). This subject was also covered by Isaiah himself in Isaiah 64:4 and Isaiah 65:17.
James Coffman once preached a sermon on this chapter; and many details of the occasion have remained in his memory ever since. It was preached outdoors in Bowie, Texas, the night of August 15,1935, the night of that day when Will Rogers and Wiley Post were killed in the “Winnie Mae” in Alaska. The response included W. T. Hamilton, one of the greatest preachers of this century, who was baptized that night at the age of 10. Also another was baptized. He was Mose Fowler, the founder of the city of Stoneberg, Texas, and the man whose oil well, “The Mose Fowler No. 1” brought in the Burkburnett Oil Field in the second decade of this century. It was a producer that yielded 365,000 barrels a day at $3,00 a barrel (and there was no income tax)!
The outline of the sermon, adapted from one originally preached by N. B. Hardeman in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville was as follows:
THE WAY TO HEAVEN ISAIAH 35:8
I. What is that WAY? It is Jesus Christ.
A. John 14:6
B. It is the way of holiness (which is described here).
C. It is the way of eternal life.
II. First, one must come TO that way. No man has ever entered a way
yet without getting TO it first. How does one arrive AT the way?
A. Faith brings one TO it; not INTO it (Romans 10:10).
B. Confession also brings one “to it.”
C. Repentance brings one “to it.” (Acts 11:18)
III. Then one must ENTER the way. How does one enter Christ?
The Word reveals the answer:
A. Romans 6:3-5
B. 1 Corinthians 12:13
C. Galatians 3:27ff
IV. Then one must continue in the Way, all the way home.
A. Revelation 2:10
B. James 2:21-22
C. 2 Peter 1:6-8MONO>LINES>
(The end of Division IV)