It’s time for one of my favorite passages in the bible.
Isaiah 35:8-10 And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Over time, I have written other verses as notes in the margin. Let me share these with you.
Isaiah 40:3 A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Psalm 49:15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.
Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
Matthew 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
1 Peter 1:18-19 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from our forefathers, not with perishable things, such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Isaiah 51:11 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
I Corinthians 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
I think a theme is pretty evident. God has something very special for those he paid a great price for. The word “ransom” is so fitting. If the bible is true in what it says, and I am convinced that it is, then you and I were hopelessly lost in our sin. Satan was our father. We were his children. I don’t like to think of things this way, but the bible is clear – we either belong to God or we belong to Satan (see John 8:39-47, for example). God takes some of us to be his own through a specific process – the cross – that the bible compares to paying a ransom. We usually use this word in reference to a hostage situation. Isn’t that really what it is? The only thing is that in the spiritual realm, hostages are willingly held in bondage. Yes, it is true that we cannot break free of some sin once it has gone too far, but the overarching truth of the matter is that we all know that salvation is found in the Lord. All we need to do is call upon him. Most people will not. As Jesus says in Matthew 7:14, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
It’s hard for me to relate to the idea of ransom. I’ve never been in that situation. What would that be like? What if my daughter(s) were held hostage? What would I give to free them? I suppose the answer would be everything. Yet, experts in this seem to suggest otherwise, don’t they? The US government has a policy (supposedly) to never negotiate with kidnappers. Doesn’t law enforcement try to wear the bad guy down before giving in to their demands? In the movies, isn’t it usually a loved one who overrides the police and gives up the money? So, the answer isn’t easy.
Apparently, God had decided the answer for the redeemed long ago. For example, in Matthew 25:34 Jesus describes the final judgement. Here’s what he has to say to the one of two groups of people, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’” That, so it would seem, was before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit. The hostage situation and the ransom price was already decided upon before anybody was created let alone had an opportunity to sin.
This is a crazy story, folks. This price was huge. Jesus didn’t want to pay it. In fact, he asked to get out of it; however, he gave that decision over to God. It was God’s will to crush him (Isaiah 53:10). Indeed, he did just that. What is really crazy is that he paid a price for those who didn’t want to be saved. That’s the biblical record, folks. Paul covers this while rejoicing in the implications of all this:
Romans 5:6-11 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would even dare to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Read that all you want and you won’t find any redeeming qualities of man. Let’s face it, this whole redemption thing is a one-way street. Jesus paid the ultimate ransom for hostages that didn’t want to be freed.
This re-birth stuff straightens out one’s thinking. Only now can I see the Highway that Isaiah spoke of is a good thing. A very good thing. No wonder there is singing and everlasting joy! Every day is a good day whilst making our way to the Promised Land! Remember, our journey has already begun.
Father, I thank you for ransoming me. I didn’t at the time, but I do now. I don’t understand the immensity of what all this means, but it seems as if I catch glimpses. Father, what a fool I was. Thank you. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers