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Walk on the Way of Holiness

Please read Isaiah 35 in your Bible.

Life is a journey; the path you choose determines your destination.

Image by James Best, (C) 2020,

https://www.behance.net/gallery/90621713/Sermon-Illustrations-2020

Though it has been in the public eye for over three years now, I just recently became aware of a suicide device called the Sarco (or Pegasos) device. It sounded like the kind of “fake news” for which the Internet is infamous, but I’ve done my homework and gone to the website where the thing is publicized. Just last month they proudly announced the “suicide pod” is in the latest stages of testing and will soon be available to the public. Separating out the Internet fiction, here are the facts: this so-called “suicide pod” is a euthanasia device that can be 3D-printed by the consumer from free plans downloaded from t Internet. Access to the 3D printing program will be given only to persons who pass an online test to assess their mental fitness.

The top part is a detachable coffin-shaped capsule mounted on a stand that replaces the oxygen in the capsule with liquid nitrogen to cause death by asphyxiation. The designers claim that with the push of a button the person will not feel panic or a sense of suffocation before unconsciousness and death occur shortly thereafter. They claim death will occur in minutes.

The device was invented by euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke in 2017. It is portable because the inventor feels that "where you die is certainly an important factor". Nitschke says the design is intended to resemble that of a spaceship, in order to give users the feel that they are traveling to the "great beyond".

This is not God’s way. Instead, it is an example of a warning given in Scripture: “There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end, leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12.) The Bible makes it clear that human life is sacred because we have been created in God’s image. We have been offered a better way to live and it has been described in an inspiring way in Isaiah 35.

1. God’s way is the hopeful way. (1-7)

The first of two promises in this splendid chapter is that God’s way leads to a renewal of creation. The DESERT and WILDERNESS are the barren spots in creation and were used in the Bible as symbols of trials; of the times in our lives when we feel PARCHED or unfruitful or threatened.

On the other hand, the GARDEN is a symbol of renewal, of creation as the Creator intended it to be. God’s promise in vs. 1-2 is that the DESERT will become a GARDEN. LEBANON, CARMEL, and SHARON are mentioned; these were places famous for their fertility and lush produce. Though they had all been destroyed by the invading Babylonians, they would be restored by WATER gushing forth, IN THE DESERT, in STREAMS, POOLS, and BUBBLING SPRINGS.

In John 4:13+14, Jesus described Himself as the “Living Water.” He is our means to the renewal of life.

The second of two promises is that God’s way leads to personal renewal for all humankind. (The first promise is “macro,” the second “micro.”) Hope renews our weakness. Note the symbols of weakness in vs. 3-4: FEEBLE HANDS, unsteady KNEES, and FEARFUL HEARTS.

Enduring trials without God in your life causes weakness. Good suffering is wasted when we don’t learn from our experiences; if we don’t deepen our faith and walk more closely with our God.

We saw images of the renewal of creation in vs. 1-2, now we see images of personal renewal in vs. 5-6. These are all symbolic of the end of suffering.

THE EYES OF THE BLIND WILL BE OPENED.

THE EARS OF THE DEAF WILL BE UNSTOPPED.

THE LAME WILL LEAP LIKE DEER.

THE TONGUE OF THE [MUTE] WILL SHOUT FOR JOY.

Let us be encouraged by this promise: all who remain faithful in the DESERT will be renewed in the GARDEN.

In Luke 7:20-23 we see Jesus as the fulfillment of this promise. He is our renewal. Renewal started with Him personally at His Resurrection. Renewal continues with each of us as we love and obey Him in lifelong service and devotion. Renewal will be completely fulfilled in the New Creation that comes into being with His Second Coming.

2. God is our direction & destination (8-10).

The Way of Holiness directs us to God. Biblically, a WAY is a symbolic way of talking about lifestyle; the path we choose to take through life.

The Way of Holiness is God’s gift and our use of His gift of LIFE. HOLINESS is moral purity and exclusively devotion to God. HOLINESS is not something we achieve; it is God’s gift to us. We must receive it and maintain it as we walk through life.

When we sin we have stepped off the WAY. God has provided for those occasions with His gracious forgiveness of sin.

Isaiah gave five signposts on the Way of Holiness. The Way of Holiness is…

…a lifestyle of godliness = THE REDEEMED WILL WALK THERE.

…exclusively for God’s people = WICKED FOOLS WILL NOT GO ABOUT ON IT.

…a way of safety = NO LION WILL BE THERE, NOR ANY FEROCIOUS BEAST.

…a way of worship = THEY WILL ENTER ZION WITH SINGING.

…the way of joy. Joy is one of the main pts. of this passage:

EVERLASTING JOY WILL CROWN THEIR HEADS.

GLADNESS AND JOY WILL OVERTAKE THEM.

SORROW AND SIGHING WILL FLEE AWAY.

The end of the journey is God. The symbol of our destination is ZION, the city of God. ZION is another name for Jerusalem, the holiest place on earth, the physical symbol of fellowship with God. To Old Testament saints like Isaiah, ZION was synonymous with heaven. Used as it is in this passage, the prophet is looking beyond the earthly Jerusalem to the place John identified as the New Jerusalem.

In ZION we will have fullness of life. This is our hope, the point on the horizon upon which our eyes should be fixed so we navigate our days faithfully. Though the word HOPE is not actually used in this passage, it is nonetheless the subject of the vision Isaiah set forth. Hope is what Christians have to offer our unsaved culture. The world needs hope and if we are to offer it, we must have it first.

Life is a journey; the path you choose determines your destination.

Years ago, before the days of self service, a pastor waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a Labor Day long weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a pump. 'Reverend,' said the young man, 'I'm so sorry about the delay... It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.'

The minister chuckled and said, 'I know what you mean. It's the same in my business.'

How sad but true. This life is short; the next life is eternal. Yet, people live as though it were the other way around. I feel such sadness for anyone who has nothing more to look forward to at the end of this life than a “suicide party” and a one way “space trip” in a Sarco suicide pod.

Friends, we have so much more to offer the world. To counter all the negativity and animosity in our culture at the present time we need to keep the kind of hope Isaiah has pictured foremost in our minds and in our speech. We need to let the world know that neither science nor politics can be our hope (after all, they created this mess!) but God has a living hope that we inherit by faith in Jesus Christ. This week make it your goal to re-read Isaiah 35 every time you watch the news. Balance Isaiah’s good news against the world’s bad news.

RESOURCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarco_device

https://www.exitinternational.net/sarco/

http://www.clearvisionbiblestudies.com/Humor/humor_2.html

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