Thy Kingdom Come
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, April 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003, P. G. Mathew
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.
In the book of Isaiah, especially beginning with chapter 32, we are introduced to God as King: "See, a king will reign in righteousness" (32:1). It is speaking about the Messiah, who alone reigns in righteousness. Unlike Ahaz or Hezekiah or other kings of Judah, this King is the thrice-holy God whom Isaiah saw in his vision of chapter 6, when he said, "My eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." Isaiah is pointing us to the fulfillment of the prayer, "Thy kingdom come."
In Isaiah 33:17 the prophet declares that our eyes will see this King in his beauty, and Isaiah 33:22 further describes him as the Lord-our Judge, Lawgiver, King, and Savior. Isaiah 41:21 tells us that he is Jacob's King and in Isaiah 43:15 we read that he is the Creator, the Holy One, the Lord and the King. Finally, in Isaiah 44:6 we read that not only is this One Israel's King, but he is also his Redeemer.
Who Is the King?
Who, then, is this King? He is none other than the virgin-born Son of David, Immanuel, the God-with-us, whom we read about in Isaiah 7. Concerning him we are told in Isaiah 9:6-7, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders." He is the "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace," of whom Isaiah says, "Of the increase of his government and his peace there will be no end."
This King will reign on David's throne with justice and righteousness forever, and the glory of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, and in Isaiah 33:19 we read that during his reign no arrogant people will remain. If you are arrogant, I want to warn you about this King: he always wins. He will cut you down to size because his government shall always increase and no one shall replace him because he will never die. But concerning God's elect Isaiah says, "No one living in Zion will say 'I am sick'; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven" (Isaiah 33:24).
The Kingdom of God Has Come
Who, then, is this King who heals all our diseases, forgives all our sins, and brings total salvation to us? It is the Lord Jesus Christ. When he came into this world, the kingdom of God came with him. In fact, he said, "The kingdom of God is in the midst of you," and "If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you." He is the kingdom of God and he is the King. And as a result of Christ's first coming, his kingdom has now come into our hearts. By the Holy Spirit God birthed in us and brought out the confession, "Jesus is Lord." Thus, we are in his kingdom and he rules our lives, if we are humble before him. But those who are arrogant are still outside of his kingdom.
Yet we do not see the kingdom of God in its full extent and manifestation today. Thus, there exists arrogance both outside and inside the church, and people mock Jesus Christ and Christianity. But this will change when Jesus comes again. That is why we pray, "Thy kingdom come." Our desire is that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The Coming Kingdom of God
Isaiah saw not only the first coming of Jesus Christ, but also his second coming, which is what we read about beginning in Isaiah 32. In Isaiah 35 the prophet describes the beautiful conditions existing at Christ's second coming. No longer cursed, "the desert and the parched land will be glad." There will be a sudden transformation as streams begin to flow and the desert begins to bloom, all as a result of divine action.
Before Christ's first coming, our condition was that of a blind, lame, mute and deaf man, as we read in Isaiah 35:5-6. This tells us something about our depravity and total disability to recognize and obey God. As slaves of the evil one, we did not know God nor hear his voice. Because we were lame, dumb, and mute, we could not walk in his ways nor sing his praises. But because of Christ's death on the cross, we have been liberated. Now the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame leap for joy, and the mute not only speak but sing by the power of the kingdom of God. So when the disciples of John the Baptist were sent to Jesus, Jesus told them to go back and tell John, "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."
The King's Highway
What was the good news Jesus spoke about? "Thy God reigns!" This King reigns for our benefit-saving us, healing us, raising us from the dead, humbling us, forgiving all our sins, cleansing us, and defeating all our enemies. And, as we read in this passage, he provides us a highway to the eternal city of the heavenly Jerusalem: "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" (Isaiah 35:8). God places us on the highway that leads from the city of sin to the city of God.
On this highway the people of God will walk until they arrive in the city whose builder and maker is God. After we arrive, we will be with God forever, celebrating the never-ending festival of salvation. When we arrive there, we will see our King of righteousness in all his beauty.
Let us then examine this King's highway. The Bible tells us there are only two roads all people must travel on. One is straight and narrow and leads to eternal life; the other is broad and winding, leading away from God to eternal destruction.
How many people travel on the broad way! They may claim to be Christians, but it makes no difference. Our claims have no value unless God claims us as his own. The Bible clearly proclaims that few shall be on the first road that leads to life, and many shall be on the wide road that leads to death. But all will travel on one or the other road, and we will arrive at our final, eternal destination at our death.
A Highway from God
What do we know about this highway described in Isaiah 35? First, verse 8 tells us, "And a highway will be there." This means that this highway is not of human origin, design, or construction. It is designed by God from all eternity and built by him at a very high cost for our benefit. Scripture says he did not spare his own only begotten Son, but gave him up for our salvation. In other words, this highway was constructed by the death of Jesus Christ. The price of building it was not silver or gold, but the precious blood of Christ.
A Highway to Zion
This highway is the way from the city of sin to Zion, the city of God. It is the way out of Egypt through the wilderness to the land flowing with milk and honey. As the ladder Jacob saw reached from heaven to earth, so this highway reaches down into our pit of sin and brings us out of it. Isaiah 11:16 tells us, "There will be a highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt." This highway begins from Egypt and Assyria, meaning from the place of our hell and exile. God sent his Son all the way down to where we were. He sought us, found us, and set our feet upon the path to heaven.
Jesus Christ Is the Highway
Who is this highway to heaven? The Lord Jesus Christ. In John 14:6 he told us, "I am the way and the truth and the life." There is no other way to God. All other ways are lies and figments of human imagination.
Jesus Christ alone is the way to God the Father, to heaven, and to eternal life. In Acts 4:12 Peter tells us, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Jesus Christ alone is our atonement and propitiation. He alone is the one who turned the wrath of God away from us by his death. He alone is the one who laid down his life for his sheep.
Jesus said all other saviors are thieves and robbers. They are like blind guides who lead the blind into the ditch of eternal despair.
The Ancient Way of the Scriptures
This highway is called the ancient way, meaning it is the ancient way of the Holy Scriptures. In Jeremiah 6:16 we read,
This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'"
Modern man, in all his sophistication and education, hates this ancient path of God. He asks, "What is the latest and the most progressive path I can go on?" But here we are told, "You are standing at the crossroads and do not know which way to go. You should ask someone who knows." Whom should we ask? A true minister of the gospel. Tell him, "I want the ancient path, the old paths, the old-time religion. "Ask where the good way is," God says, "and when you find it and walk in it, you will find rest for your soul."
We will never find rest in philosophy, sociology, science, or in the latest intellectual fad. The ancient way has been there for a long time, but the arrogant will never get on it. Such people will never experience rest for their souls.
What is the ancient path? It is the way of the word of God, on which believers meditate day and night. As Isaiah said in Isaiah 8, it is the law and the testimony, which God's people neglected in favor of the mutterings and whisperings of mediums and spiritists. The ancient way alone is able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
The Plain Way
This highway is a plain way. It is so plain that we do not need to be educated, cultured and sophisticated to find it or walk in it. The Bible says the common people heard Jesus gladly, and sinners and publicans rejoiced in his teaching. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 1 we are told not many wise, not many influential, and not many of noble birth find this way to be delightful. Those who walk in it are mostly ordinary people, but they are people of divine election. God has chosen the weak things of this world to shame the wise.
The Way of the Holy Spirit
This highway is the way of the Holy Spirit: those who walk on it are led by the Spirit of God-the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of grace, and the Spirit of holiness.
The Way of Holiness
This highway is the way of holiness, designed and built by the thrice-holy God; therefore no unclean person will be permitted to travel on it. Why do people not want to get on this way? Because they want to sin. They want to remain stubborn.
Isaiah 35:8 says, "The unclean will not journey on it. . . . wicked fools will not go about on it." This is a high way, meaning it is above the muck, mire, filth, and garbage of this world. Those who travel on it are called saints-holy ones. Such people set their affections on things above, not on things below.
No one can make himself clean, but no one can get on God's high way unless he is clean. Thus, God himself had to make us clean, and he does. The God tells us, "Be ye holy, for I am holy," also says, "I am the one who makes you holy." He lifts us up out of the miry clay of our sin, washes and cleanses us in the blood of Christ, and puts us on his way of holiness.
Those who walk on this highway are those who are cleansed by the blood of Christ. We find this point very clearly illustrated in Isaiah 6:5-7. As he saw the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cried out, "Woe to me! . . . I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty" (v. 5). Then he said, "Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, 'See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for'" (vv. 6-7). That is the application of the redemption which is ours in Christ Jesus. When God cleanses us, our guilt is taken away, our sins are atoned for, and we are justified, sanctified, and soon to be glorified.
Jesus saves his people from their sins. Those who experience trouble getting on God's highway and walking on it love sin more than Jesus Christ. (PGM) They want to drink from the cup of pleasure, not from the cup of salvation. Those who want to remain unclean will not travel on God's highway.
The Safe Highway
This highway is safe. "No lion will be there," we read in verse 9. No lion will be on the highway to tear us apart. Yes, we will hear the sound of the roaring of the lion, but do not fear: We can overcome him by faith in the Lion of Judah, who destroyed the devil by his death on the cross.
This Lord is going to be a wall of fire protecting us. Yes, we may go through the valley of the shadow of death, but fear not. The shadow of the lion cannot bite us, the shadow of a sword cannot wound us, and the shadow of death cannot kill us. So we cry out with Paul, "'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are given eternal life. Secure in the mighty hand of God, we shall never perish. Thus, when we are tempted on this highway, we have a guarantee that God himself will make a way out for us. We will be victorious, for God is with us!
Who Walks on God's Highway?
Who travels on this way? We already have learned the unclean will not walk on it; here we are told only the redeemed will walk there. But in order to be redeemed, we need a redeemer-one who is related to helpless, miserable people who cannot help themselves. We need a Boaz, whose legal right it is to redeem us, and who is willing and able to do it.
We have such a redeemer in the person of God's eternal Son, Jesus Christ. He took upon himself human nature so that he could be our kinsman/redeemer. Having shared in our humanity, and being able and willing to redeem us, he redeemed us by his death on the cross. Our sins have been forgiven and we are given his righteousness.
This Jesus Christ meets our every need. It is he who took us out of the miry clay and placed our feet upon the highway of holiness. It is he who is leading us to Zion. As the King's children we now walk on the King's highway, making daily progress in our journey to the Celestial City. All the saints of all times travel on this highway, because there is no other way to salvation. Some have already arrived and are waiting for us to arrive. Soon I will die and arrive, and I hope to see you arrive there also.
The City of God
What, then, will happen when we arrive at the city of God? We will see the King in all his beauty.
In Matthew 8:11 Jesus describes this final arrival of God's saints: "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." Everyone whom Jesus placed on this highway will travel the full length of it. None will fall off and be lost. All will arrive at the gates of Zion and be admitted to his banquet.
How will we come? In Isaiah 35:10 we read, "[T]he ransomed of the Lord will return . . . ." That word "return" speaks about the prodigal returning to his father's home. Isaiah continues, "They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads." God's people will arrive at the city of God with great singing and gladness. Earlier, Isaiah said the desert and the parched land will rejoice and blossom. The whole creation will experience the liberty of the children of God, but it has to wait until we arrive.
God's people will arrive in heaven with singing, gladness, and everlasting joy "crowning their heads." In God's presence there is fullness of joy and on his right hand pleasures everlasting.
So God's people will arrive with great celebration. Oh, there will be great freedom in their walk. Just as the Israelites came to Jerusalem three times a year to meet with God in the temple, so now we are going to come to heaven with singing, gladness, and everlasting joy crowning our heads. What will be the reason for all this joy and celebration? The kingdom of God will have come in all its fullness. All curse will be reversed, the arrogant will be destroyed, all sin will be removed, and we shall be glorified. The desert and parched land will be singing and bursting forth into bloom. There will be streams in the desert. There shall be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. We will enter God's gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, and celebrate the Lord's festival unendingly.
Finally, Isaiah says, not only will "gladness and joy . . . overtake them," but "sorrow and sighing will flee away." There will be no more sorrow and pain in heaven, as we read in Revelation 7:13-17:
Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes-who are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
We find the same idea in Isaiah 25:7-8, where we read,
On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.
What, then, will we do when we arrive in God's city? With our own eyes we will behold our King in all his beauty. This is the life that God designed us for: creatures enjoying fellowship with their Creator and God. Moses was permitted to see only the backside of God, but then we along with Moses shall see God, no more through a glass darkly but face to face. There we shall dwell in eternal bliss, there we shall sing "Amazing grace!"
My fellow travelers, I want to appeal to you, first, "Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong and do not fear; your God will come'"(Isaiah 35:3-4). In the Hebrew it is, "Do not fear; behold your God." The antidote to feeble hands, feeble knees, and fearful hearts is beholding our God. That is why the writer to the Hebrews said, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." "Behold, your God is coming," Isaiah is saying, "with vengeance to destroy his enemies and save us."
Second, if you are already on God's highway, I urge you to continue on it for the rest of your life. We are told we must not turn to the right or to the left. Follow Jesus, rather than wasting your life by being entangled with the Vanity Fairs of this perishing world.
Third, I appeal to you to open your mouth and proclaim to those who are perishing the way of redemption. As you speak to your children, your wife, your husband, your neighbor, or your friends, may those who are blind have their eyes opened, may those who are deaf have their ears opened, may those who are lame leap for joy, and may those who are dumb and mute sing God's praises with you.
Additionally, I urge you to pray for those who are apostate. God can still save them.
Finally, if you have never gotten onto this highway, I urge you to get on it today. If you ask, "What must I do to be saved?" the answer is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." If you are still on the broad way of destruction, I plead with you to get off of it and get onto the highway that goes to the city of Zion. Then you can walk with us and sing with us the songs of Zion until we all come to the city where we will live and enjoy God's company forever.
May God have mercy on those who are on the way of destruction and save them! May he perform a miracle, that they would say goodbye to evil, sin, filth, misery, and death and be made alive. May they put their trust in him and get on the highway of holiness and travel with us until we all come to the fullness of the blessing that the gospel promises. And may we are on this highway love holiness and declare the way of the gospel to all people. Amen.
Thank you for reading. If you found this content useful or encouraging, let us know by sending an email to email@example.com.
Copyright © 2003, P. G. Mathew
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® (1984 version). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The "NIV" and "New International Version" are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™