- Its three major phases
Isaiah makes several mentions of the highway of salvation.
- The historic way led straight out of Egypt’s enslavement for the children of Israel and through the Red Sea. ‘And there will be a highway … as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt’ (Isaiah 11:16). That was at the cost to each of them of the blood of a lamb openly displayed in testimony, and a baptism ‘into Moses … through the sea’ (1 Corinthians 10:1-2).
- The predicted way out of later exile (Isaiah 11:16). ‘And there will be a highway from Assyria [where the tribes of northern Israel had been taken into exile] and out of Babylon (see 40:3) where the southern tribes would be taken all too soon as a discipline due to their backsliding into idolatry.
- The messianic way foretold by John the Baptist in the Gospels that would lead his contemporary Jewish listeners to Jesus. Although they were descendants of forbears restored from that Babylonian exile, they were still captives to sin even in ‘the Promised Land’. John bade them: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight’ (Matthew 3:3). And they sealed that change of lifestyle by baptism in the river Jordan, re-enacting the memorable entry into Canaan under Joshua’s leadership.
- Its characteristics (Isaiah 35:8-10)
- It is Sanctified (= ‘set apart’) ‘the Way of Holiness.’
Those who have chosen to tread this road have devoted themselves to pleasing the Lord in their motives, thoughts, speech and actions.
- It is Safe
‘No lion … nor … any ravenous beast … shall be found there.’
- It is Straightforward
Compare 40:3, ‘make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’
- It is Smooth
‘Build up the highway; clear it of stones’ (Isaiah 62:10). Compare: ‘The path of the righteous is level’ (Isaiah 26:7).
- It is Song-filled
‘And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing.’
- Those who would walk in it must also be simple and straightforward
‘If they are fools, they shall not wander in it’ (3 Isaiah 5:8e, margin).
- It is provided by God, but must be prepared by his people (Matthew 3:8)
- Jesus is the way
In John 14:6, he is the way to God. ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.’ But in the book of Acts he is the inspiration and enabler within ‘men [and] women …. belonging to the way’ (Acts 9:2) – he is the way of the godly.
Back in the 1970s Christians from a hippy background devised a right-handed L-sign with an upward-pointing index finger and a sideways-pointing thumb as the capital initial of ‘Love’. Christians would greet each other with this sign and a cry of ‘One way, Jesus’. This gave rise to a legend about a driver pressing against a flow of approaching cars whose irate drivers were shouting, ‘One way, mate!’ which he mistook for a testimony of revival! Let’s major on lifestyle rather than on gimmicks.