Proud skyscrapers of yesteryear are shredded and in shambles. Abandoned cars line roads that are now succumbing to encroaching plants. Debris witnesses to a panicked exit, the last evidence of human habitation. What was once lively and thriving lies abandoned and decaying. The post-apocalyptic world remains a favorite scene in science fiction movies.
From the vantage point of Heaven this planet is in shambles. God created the world to be a place of beauty and perfectly balanced function. What is now the Sahara was to be as lush as the Amazon Basin. Animals that flee from us were to eat from our hands. The diseases that plague our days shriveled before a superior immune system. This is a post-apocalyptic world compared to the Eden of God’s design.
Isaiah 34 contains a frightening description of God’s judgment against the nations, particularly Edom. Their cities, villages and countryside were doomed, turned from thriving places to desert. But Isaiah 35 suddenly turns about face toward a restored earth that the future owns once God establishes His reign upon it with the return of Christ.
Centering on the nation of Israel, there are a series of contrasts as the prophet paints a picture of the new paradise.
|VERSE 3||Tired Hands | Weak Knees||Strengthen | Encourage|
|VERSE 4||Fearful Hearts||Strong|
|VERSE 5||Blind | Deaf||Eyes Opened | Ears Unplugged|
|VERSE 6||Lame||Leap like a deer|
|VERSE 7||Parched ground | Desert jackals||Pool | Marsh grass, reeds, rushes|
|VERSE 8||Deserted||Great road|
|VERSE 9||Lions, ferocious beasts||The redeemed|
|VERSE 10||Sorrow and mourning||Joy and gladness|
Isaiah acknowledges that the present state of affairs is a world that is not right, that has crashed tragically. While he calls on nature to describe the scene, the images were symbolic of the corruption that sin has wrought not only upon God’s creation but within the souls of humanity. It is all in desperate need of repair, of renewal.
But there comes a promise. God has not abandoned what He has crafted, He will not forsake the ones He has redeemed. The day is coming when He intends to reassert His claim upon this planet and when He does, deserts will evaporate, hurricanes will be blown away, earthquakes will tremble in submission.
Travelers will journey through the reborn earth on a highway, a highway of holiness (verse 8). But this is not an open road for just anyone. It is a turnpike for the holy. Isaiah is specific about who will not be admitted: “Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be for those who walk in God’s ways, fools will never walk there.” The issue of access will not be a question during Christ’s reign on earth. By then it’s a settled matter.
When Isaiah speaks of evil he means those who have made a deliberate choice to reject Christ as Savior. It is a heart self-absorbed that would not have Christ reign over it, choosing instead its own road of rebellion. Unlike the highway of holiness, that alternate road, while broad, leads only to destruction (Matthew 7:13).
Isaiah also says that “fools will never walk there.” He does not mean the uneducated – many who lack formal education are wise beyond the learned. Rather, these are people who just frittered away their opportunity to serve Christ. They weren’t necessarily against Him, but neither did they align themselves to Him. These banked on getting around to it eventually until all their tomorrows slipped away from them. One does not stumble blindly into the kingdom of God. It is a deliberate act of repentance toward God with a plea for His forgiveness. God receives us as we receive Christ.
Those who will feel most comfortable in the kingdom of God will be the ones who most prepared themselves to live there. If I were to decide to move to Mexico, I would prepare myself by learning Spanish, understanding the customs and studying the laws of that nation. And those most fitted for the kingdom of God will have learned the language of heaven in prayer, conformed their lives to the Word of God so they know the laws and customs of the redeemed. The highway of holiness will be a familiar route to those who live holy lives now.
How prepared are you for Christ’s kingdom? How fitted are you to walk on the highway of holiness? If you are not, ask God’s Spirit to sanctify you now so that on that day your feet will tread a familiar path.
Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee, Editor-in-Chief and National Literary Secretary