What is it that catches your attention?
Maybe you’re on the way to work and you notice a bright orange sign that signals construction will be rerouting your way. Perhaps you’re sitting peacefully indoors and a loud clap of thunder frightens you. Many things may catch our attention throughout our day.
Pay attention, “Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:11-12).
Perhaps we think, “Isn’t that for the remnant of Israel that would remain in captivity?” Certainly! But there is a secondary consideration for those afar off. Again listen to Isaiah, “And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant of His people who will be left, just as there was for Israel in the day when came up out of the land of Egypt.” (Isa. 11:16) This “highway” reminds us of another highway Isaiah speaks about. “A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, and fools will not wander on it.”
Yes, Isaiah is primarily addressing God’s initial chosen people, but is that all? The only time that the Bible mentions this kind of language is when it is speaking about the Gentiles. “And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isa. 11:12). Again we can see that the “highway from Assyria” that Isaiah was speaking of isn’t limited only to the Jews (Isa. 11:16). Further, “And the ransomed of the Lord will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion…” (Isa 35:10”. Now certainly that is not limited to the remnant of Israel; Zion is spoken of many times in the New Testament. The Highway of Holiness was certainly for the remnant of Israel, but it also is for us today.
Not only is there a “highway” but there is also a standard that will be lifted up. The word standard is often translated as “ensign, signal, banner”. The standard was designed to catch the attention of the people and draw them to that standard.
Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). This is the standard, signal or banner Isaiah tells us about. Whenever Jesus died on the cross, that was the point where He was truly “lifted up”. He is the standard that would draw all men to God (John 6:44-45). Above all we face today, He must catch our attention.
Additionally consider, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Don’t miss the point. Jesus being raised up from the earth should be our banner because He breaks down barriers (Eph. 2:13-18). Isaiah spoke of the barriers between Jew and Gentile. Jesus’ horribly beautiful demise is what makes it possible for those “who were once afar off” to now be near. He makes us a “royal priesthood and chosen generation”.
Jesus’ death allows all men to be saved. No matter the background all men can be united. Before His death only the Jews could receive salvation. But now because of His death there is a Highway of Holiness. There is now access to heaven for all.
Jesus truly is our one and only standard. A standard which breaks down barriers, unites His people no matter the differences, and draws us to Him.
by Dillon Adams