Robert Morris - Streets
So, we're finishing up a series this weekend called, "A Way in the Wilderness", Isaiah 35 is where we've been, we've already gone through the first seven verses. If you want to turn to that, we'll now go through the last three verses, 8, 9, and 10, and talk about how the Messiah fulfilled this. So, this week the title of the message is "Streets". So, I did this because all of them begin with "S" that way, you can remember them. You know, I've said that before to my wife and she said, "You know, that doesn't help me at all". But, "Strength", "Signs", "Streams", and "Streets", alright?
So, Isaiah 35:8-10, "A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; it 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, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away".
So, here's three things about this street in the wilderness. Number one, it's a street of grace. Now, this may be different than the way you thought I was going to take it, because when I first read this about a Highway of Holiness and the unclean can't walk there, I actually felt condemnation. Now, let me explain that to you. That's not God. And yet, sometimes when we read the Bible, the enemy's attacking us. Think about that: when Jesus is fasting and praying, Satan's attacking Him. So when you feel condemnation, that is not from the Lord, because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And Jesus said I didn't come into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.
So, I knew this was from the enemy, but there's something there and so I read it again, but let me just show you. This is the way I was reading it, this is Verse 8 again, says, "A highway shall be there, and a road, it shall be called the Highway of Holiness". Well, as soon as I saw the word "holiness", I thought, uh-oh, I'm in trouble. And then it said, "The unclean shall not pass over it," and I thought, yeah, that's me, talking about me again. And then it said, "But it shall be for others," and I thought, yeah, that's people like Debbie. The people who never jay-walked and you know, never done anything.
You know, I was saved at 19, she was saved at 9. I was delivered from drugs, she was delivered from bubblegum. But, the next verse gave me some hope! Look. "Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray". Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, I got included! But here's what hit me: that I did not get on the road because of my works. There's A Way in the Wilderness, and that Way has a Name. His name is Jesus. I got on the road because of Him. Remember, when you exegete the Scriptures, when you pull truth out of Scripture, it must be cohesive with the whole of Scripture.
And let me say it another way, with the nature and character of God. Our God's a God of grace, and so, when it says "The unclean shall not pass over it," you need to understand something. I'm clean now because of grace, because of grace! So it's not that, you know, I had a good week and so I'm in God's good graces. I had a bad week, so I'm in God's bad graces. Listen, there's no such thing as bad grace, but only good grace. So it doesn't matter what your performance was, it matters what His performance was. And so, we're on the road because of grace. It is a street of grace, it's a highway of grace.
I want you to just think about when it says, "The unclean shall not pass over it". I have been made clean by the blood of Jesus, so I get to walk on this road too. I remember thinking, again when I read it, I thought, well, Debbie can walk on it, but I have to walk beside it. And I'll have to walk in the briars and all of that stuff, but maybe I'll get to hold her hand, you know, but I'm going in the right direction, I'm going to heaven, but you know, because of my past, I'm unclean. No, I'm clean because of the blood of Jesus, and so are you, no matter what your past is and no matter what you did last night. You're only clean because of the blood of Jesus, not because of whether you did a good job or a bad job.
So, there's a really good picture of this in the New Testament. The Gentiles were considered unclean by the Jews, and there's a Gentile named Cornelius who worshipped God and gave alms to the poor, and he's crying out to God, and so, God sends Peter to him in Acts 10. This is when the gospel goes to the Gentiles. But, Peter goes up on the rooftop to pray and it says he actually fell into a trance. And a sheet came down, a sheet, like a bedspread, a sheet, okay? So, it sounded like "sheep" when I first said it, but what you sleep in, okay, came down from heaven, and it says it was full of unclean animals.
So, it was full of, you know, pigs, and shrimp, and lobster, all of the things I like. And this voice said, "Rise, kill, and eat," and then that's where we pick up the story, Verse 14. "But Peter said, 'Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.'" Just notice the word "unclean". "And a voice spoke to him again the second time, 'What God has cleansed you must not call common'". Or, we could say "unclean", because if you look down then at Verse 28, when he's explaining this to the Gentiles, he says, "God has shown me that I should not call any man," or any person, "common or unclean".
And then in Acts 15 when they're having the council to decide what to do with all of these Gentile believers now, Peter says, Verse 8, "So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying", now, I underlined it so I could come back to it, "purifying their hearts by faith". That word, most of the time, is translated "cleansing". He cleansed them just like He cleansed us, so I'm telling you, we're cleansed. So, this road, this Way in the wilderness, as I said, has a Name, and His name is Jesus, and you will remember it, because Jesus actually told us that.
In John 14, when He's telling His disciples He's going away, He says in Verse 4, "And where I go you know, and the way you know". Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we don't know where You're going, and how can we know the way"? Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me". But, "I am the Way", by the way, did you know that the church, before they were called "Christians", do you know they were called "the way"? Five times in the Book of Acts, the church was called "the way", Jesus is the Way.
Now, again let me say it's because of grace, okay? So, Debbie gets saved when she's nine. I start trying to straighten my life up when I'm 16, and then we start dating. We get married when I'm 18, but I'm not saved yet. I get saved nine months later, and I saw a genuineness in her, even though I had grown up in church, but when I got saved, it was radical, because I had been involved in a lot of sin. Well, she actually started doubting her salvation. She started thinking, I don't remember that. I didn't have that type of conversion that Robert did, and so, Lord, I need You to show me. And she literally, she didn't mean it in a wrong way, but she said, you know, I wasn't this big, bad sinner like he was. She might have said 'like he is', I don't know, but like he was, and then just radically get saved in a motel room.
You know, I wasn't in church when I got saved. I don't know if y'all know that, and you don't have to be in church when you get saved, you know? You're not going to die in a funeral home. It's convenient, but it probably won't, so, anyway... So, I wasn't in church when I got saved; I was in a motel room. But I got radically saved, and so she started, you know, just kind of saying, Lord, I need You to show me, because this is a radical change in him and I don't remember that radical of a change in me.
So, one day in worship she had a vision. Now again, she didn't lose consciousness, she just saw a picture in her mind, okay? And God does that, it's all through Scripture. But, here's what she saw: she saw herself in a white wedding dress, and she saw Jesus, and she knew this is the marriage supper of the Lamb. I'm the bride, and the Bible says we're the bride of Christ, and she was going to see her groom, and she started running toward Him, and she fell in a mud puddle, and she said she was covered with mud. There wasn't one part of her dress that was still white. And she was on all fours in this mud puddle, and she realized how dirty she was in the presence of Jesus. And she said, "I started remembering attitudes I had growing up, and secret, like, private rebellion; being mad at my parents for something, or being mad at someone in school, or unforgiveness".
See, I was involved in a lot of sins of the flesh. She was remembering sins of the heart. But, what's the difference? You know, Jesus came and He spoke to the prostitutes who had sins of the flesh, and He spoke to the Pharisees who had sins of the heart, and He didn't make any distinction between them. Okay, so, she just saw all of this, you know, and she just wept because she was so filthy in the sight, in the presence of Jesus. And all of a sudden, in the mud puddle, she saw a foot in like a sandal, and it had a nail print in it, but it was standing on top of the mud and it wasn't muddy.
And then she saw a hand reach down with a nail print. She put her hand in His hand, and the mud just began to go off of her. And He lifted her up, and as He lifted her up, she became completely clean again and she knew she would been forgiven for everything she would ever done. And the mud puddle became gold, like a street of gold, and they danced like a groom and a bride at a wedding. But she realized, even though Robert did all of those things, I was still in need of a Savior, too, I was a sinner, too. So, she's telling me about this later on, and then she said, "He even brought something to my mind that I had forgotten, something horrible that I did as a young person that I have been ashamed of ever since".
Okay, now you've got to remember something: Debbie is a saint. So when she said He brought something to my mind, something horrible I would done, something I've been ashamed of my whole life, I said, "What"? Now, the reason is I wanted to know if she was human. And so, it wasn't like I was going to find out something horrible and then get mad at her, I just wanted to know: you've done something you're ashamed of? You know, I've never heard this in my life, you know? So, tell me, tell me!
So, she said, "Well, you remember, when we were growing up, everyone had a 3-ring notebook, and sometimes one of the holes in your paper, would tear. And at the store back then, they had these little white circles," some of you remember this, "and you could put it on your paper and repair that hole". And she had one hole on one of her pieces of paper. One hole on one piece of paper, and she wanted to get one of those. So, she's at the store, she asked her mom, can we buy these, and it was a package, you know, of 20, or 30, or 50 of them, and she only needed one, you know? And, her mom said, "No, we could just put tape on it when we get home". Did any of you, you know, grow up with, okay, tape instead?
Alright, So she said, "Well, just put some tape on it and it will be fine". But she said, "When my mother wasn't looking," now, she's telling me this and she's crying. And she said, "And when my mother wasn't looking, I opened the package and I took one of them out, and I've been ashamed of that my whole life". And I said to her, "That's what you've been ashamed of your whole life? That doesn't make me feel any better at all"! I was waiting for this, matter of fact, it makes me feel worse for my life, that that's the worst thing you ever did was you stole one little 29-cent, and it's not even 29, 2.9 cent thing from Wal-mart? So anyway, grace covered her sin, too, she was a big, bad sinner too. She was a kleptomaniac, so, all right. It's a street of grace; it's also a street of safety.
Verse 9, "No lion shall be there". Obviously it's not talking about the lion of Judah, it's talking about the roaring lion. "Nor shall any ravenous beasts," see the context? "Go up on it; it shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there".
Psalm 91:13, "You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample under your foot". Jesus backs it up in the New Testament.
Luke 10:19, "Behold, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you". So, no lion, no ravenous beast is on this road. But, let me say something very clearly. Don't wander off the road. Now, I'm not talking about saved, lost, saved, lost, saved, lost, because we get to heaven by grace. But even as Christians, we can see something and wander off the road, and when you get off the road, you're in Satan's territory. You start looking at something on the internet that you shouldn't look at, you get into his territory.
If you start flirting with someone, and you're married and you start flirting with someone else, you're in his territory. If you start going to the bars and drinking too much, you're in his territory, you follow me? Don't get off the road, because the lion's right off the road, because here's what the Bible tells us: you would better beware, because your adversary is like a roaring lion, roaming about seeking whom he may devour. He's right off the road, but he can't get on the road. That's what the Bible tells us, he can't get on the road. But, we live in a fallen world. That doesn't mean that we don't get attacked or tempted by the enemy, and in fact, think about this. He attacked Jesus Himself.
I remember being in a church one time, and the pastor said, "There's a couple here. They're upset because their son is, like nine years old, and he is saying that he hears Satan, that Satan's talking to him. And, I don't know what to tell them". And I said, "Well, could I talk to them and their little boy"? And they said yes. So I said to the little boy, I talked to him for a while about sports or something, and then I said, "So, I heard that you can hear that Satan's talking to you," and he said, "Yes". And I said, "Man, you must be a great guy with a great destiny on your life". And he said, "Why would you say that"? I said, "Well, because Satan talked to Jesus, didn't he? He talked to Jesus. Jesus wasn't a bad person, and He had a great destiny on His life". And I remember this boy's face just brightened up.
So, Satan can still attack you, but that's why we do spiritual warfare. That's why we pray every day in the daily prayer, "Deliver us from evil today". So, just because it says no lions shall be on this road, don't think that you're never going to get tempted in this life, because we live in a fallen world. So, it's a road of safety, and here's the third thing, it's a street of joy. Now, Isaiah 35:10 says, "The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away". That might be familiar to some of you, it depends on your age.
This is in another place in Isaiah, but let me read it to you in the Old King James, Isaiah 51:11 says, "Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion". Any of you remember this? This was a worship song. "And everlasting joy shall be upon their head; they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away" They're going to come with singing, everlasting joy. How long is everlasting? Remember grace, salvation, is everlasting life.
And, I love the Old King James says, "Sorrow and mourning shall flee away," and I wanted to say that because I feel like that's for some of you here. Mourning attacks you, like, I got attacked with fear every year. You've lost someone, and you might get attacked every year with mourning. And I just want you to know, because of Jesus, it's okay to miss a person. That's okay, because it says we grieve. This is what it says in the Bible: we don't grieve as those who have no hope. But we do grieve, but just not as those who have no hope. So, you don't have to mourn, so that can pass away. I can sing because I've been cleansed.
So, I was just looking, you know how I love words. I was looking at the word "cleansing", look at the word "cleansing," now, when I looked at it, now, this isn't how it breaks down, grammatically. I understand that, but, I just saw the two words. Look, "clean", "sing" clean-sing. And so, then I added some punctuation and I did it like this. Are you clean? Then sing. If you're clean by grace, sing; you can rejoice. But, why don't people rejoice?
So, this is the last thing I'm going to share with you, alright? In Luke 15, there's the story of the Prodigal Son, but there are three stories in Luke 15. There's a shepherd who had a hundred sheep and lost one, right? Left the 99 and went and found that 1. There's a women who had ten coins, lost one, went and found that one. There's the father that had two sons and lost one, and found that one, okay? The son comes home, but he says he's now found.
Let me just read it and then I'm going to ask you the question, I'll go ahead and tell you the question: What's the first thing that each of them did when they found what they were looking for? Luke 15:6, "And when he comes home", this is the shepherd, "he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'" The woman with the coin, Verse 9, "And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!'" Luke 15:23-24, the father said, "Bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive; he was lost and is found".
So, what's the first thing they did when they found what they were looking for? Rejoice... Okay, no, that's not right. The first thing they did was they stopped looking for it. You never find something and keep looking for it, right? In other words, have you ever made this statement? I know it will be in the last place I look. Of course it will! You never find it and keep looking, right? Why am I saying this? Because you were born looking for love, looking for forgiveness, looking for acceptance. And what I need to tell you and you need to hear in your spirit, you've found it, you can stop looking for it, and now there's only one thing to do, and that's rejoice! You don't have to keep looking for it, because you don't find favor with God by works; you find favor with God by receiving the Way in the Wilderness whose Name is Jesus Christ.
Because Jesus has come, we are now walking on streets of grace. The Bible calls it, "a highway of holiness", but it's not a highway of holiness because we everything right or because we're perfect, because we're not perfect. It's a highway of holiness because we've been set apart, by the blood of Jesus. I want to remind you of that; it's Jesus' blood that cleanses all of your sin. It's not Jesus' blood that helps you be perfect, because none of us is perfect, but Jesus' blood cleanses us from all of our mistakes, everything we've done. You might be like my wife, and you didn't do much wrong, but you know you've done things wrong. You might be like me, and you know you've done a lot of things wrong, but the same blood that saved my wife, saved me, and saved you. And I'm so grateful that the Messiah came and made a Way in the Wilderness.