In those days, and in that time, said the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together…
Our human nature is like a ruined temple in which the echo of old hymns and prayers still lingers and where a spectral Levite walks and murmurs of a lost glory. Hence our longing to return. All souls in their lowest depths are troubled to know the way of everlasting life. This universal consensus of aspiration led to speak of the "wings of our pre-existent state." The world is full of men and women who as Jesus passes by are half moved to throw themselves before Him as the young ruler did, crying, "What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" It is our vocation, as ministers of the Gospel, to point out the way to Zion. A grave responsibility rests upon us. Not long ago a signalman swung a white lantern as the railroad train swept by. On it went with impetuous speed until, on a sudden, there came a shock like a thunderbolt, and the train plunged down an embankment. The cars were piled one upon another, and oh, the shrieking and praying then! Who shall depict the anguish of that scene t Its record will be told on grave-stones and in the sable garments of the mourners who go about the streets. It was all because of the mistaken signal Who is sufficient to stand in this sacred place and direct souls into the way of spiritual life? No one of us could dare do this thing were it not that we have a sure oracle. At the outset we are admonished in these Scriptures that there is only one way to Zion. It used to be a proverb, "All roads lead to Rome." In the centre of the Forum was a golden mile-stone, Milliarium Aureum, whereat all thoroughfares converge. If a traveller even in a distant province should ask, "Which way to Rome?" the answer would be, "Keep on and you will reach the golden mile-stone." There are those who seem to think that all ways, in like manner, lead to heaven's gate. If you are only sincere, keep on and you will get there. But alas, the Scriptures speak with a different voice. "There is a way which seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof is death." All roads lead out into the wilderness save one, and that is the King's highway, whereof the prophets slake. "A highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness."
I. THE KING'S HIGHWAY LEADS DOWN THROUGH THE VALLEY OF BOCHIM, THE PLACE OF TEARS. Repentance is prerequisite to an entrance into life. To repent is to make a frank acknowledgment of sin and to forsake it. Is there aught unreasonable in this? If I have wronged a fellow-man do I not count it a point of honour to make amends to him? Shall we not observe as high a rule of honour and manliness in our attitude to God as we do in our human relationships?
II. THE KING'S HIGHWAY RUNS OVER THE HILL OF ATONEMENT. It is the royal way of the Cross. The law speaks on Calvary. It says to the sinner, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." Nor is it possible to exaggerate the dreadfulness of that death. The Lord spoke of it under the figure of fire and the undying worm To Christ also the law speaks, Thou mayest expiate the sinner's guilt. The sword awakes against the Shepherd. The only-begotten Son of God, assuming our place before the law, is wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. He dies that we may live. But between the sinner with the death sentence resting upon him and Christ suspended upon the shameful Cross there is a mighty chasm. How can the innocent suffer for the guilty! and what avails it for the sinner that Jesus dies ? Over that chasm faith springs a mighty arch. By Divine appointment the exercise of faith on the part of the sinner is made the sole condition of salvation- He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.
III. THE KING'S HIGHWAY RUNS THENCEFORTH ACROSS THE OPEN COUNTRY TO HEAVEN'S GATE. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the lips confession is made unto salvation. If I have found a Saviour, and the joy of the great discovery has come into my heart, I cannot but sing my hosannas. The power of godliness is like ointment in the hand, which ever bewrayeth itself.
(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.