Isaiah 35:8-10 “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. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, 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.”
We can travel this highway safely. We can tell just by looking around at our fellow travelers. Isaiah says none of them are unclean. None of them are wicked fools. Only those who have had their sins washed away in Jesus blood travel this road. Only those who place their faith in him, who walk in that Way, will make this journey. This highway of faith leads in only one direction, and everyone on it is going the right way. We travel in good company.
Nor do we have to worry about any obstacles along the way. Isaiah assures us that no lion or other wild beast can attack us on this road. When we are walking the walk of faith, we are walking in the only safe way to heaven. Some people try to get there by a way of their own making. They won’t go even a step before sin has stopped them in their tracks.
But when we cling to our Savior in faith, then the entire way to heaven has been cleared for us. We could even say that the entire way to heaven has been traveled for us. No sin can stop us while we are in the faith. Satan can’t accuse us. When we follow our Savior, when Jesus himself is carrying us along, the way ahead is always clear.
We don’t travel this highway of faith just for the sake of travel. Our destination is what gives us joy. Our Savior is leading his redeemed to their home, a home Isaiah calls Zion. “But only the redeemed will walk there, 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.”
When the Old Testament Jews heard of Zion, they thought of Jerusalem and the temple. When the prophets mention the future Zion, they often had in mind something more. In part, they were writing about the New Testament Church in which we live today. And in part, Isaiah’s description here fits the Church as we experience it. When God called us to faith, he started us on this walk, and he led us into his Church. It is a spiritual home for us in this world. In it we enjoy forgiveness and spiritual growth. In it we already possess eternal life.
But ultimately, coming to this Zion means joining with all believers across the great span of time in heaven. That is where “everlasting joy” will crown our heads. That is where sorrow and sighing will flee away. When we have reached that Zion, we can truly say our Savior has led us home.
As we approach Christmas this Advent season, remember: Christmas isn’t a deadline. It’s our Savior’s birthday. It is the beginning of his saving story. Keep your eyes fixed on him in faith, and let him lead you home to joy.