Things which shall or shall not be

I went out for a walk the other day.  It was a beautiful morning; winter trees silhouetted against a clear blue sky; breezy, but not cold.  Passing one particular section of woodland, my attention was caught by a sound I don’t ever remember hearing before.  The breeze must have been blowing from just the right direction and at just the right strength, so that all the trees were swaying and knocking against each other.  It was a lovely sound, slow, deep, and sonorous, a stately rhythm on giant woodblocks.  I was reminded of the words of the Lord in Isaiah: And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

When I say I shall do something, there is always an element of doubt.  I may forget; circumstances may intervene.  But when God says ‘shall’ there is no doubt at all.  I once heard someone refer to the ‘beautiful shalls’ of Scripture, those statements on which we may utterly depend.

Here’s a sample:

In that day a fountain shall be opened… for sin and for uncleanness.  (Zechariah 13:1)

Jesus answered them, “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”  (John 8:36)

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 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.  (Isaiah 35:8,10)

And here, in addition to the things which shall be, are some things which shall not be:

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  (John 8:12)

Jesus answered them, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”  (John 10:27-28)

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  (Revelation 21:3-4)

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.  They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.  And there shall be no night there: they need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.  And they shall reign forever and ever…  He who testifies to these things says, “Surely, I am coming quickly.”  Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!  (Revelation 22:3-5; 20)

Jesus, my All, to heaven is gone,

He whom I fix my hopes upon;

His track I see, and I’ll pursue

The narrow way till Him I view.


The way the holy prophets went,

The road that leads from banishment,

The King’s highway of holiness,

I’ll go, for all His paths are peace.


This is the way I long have sought,

And mourned because I found it not;

My grief and burden long have been,

Because I could not cease from sin.


The more I strove against its power,

I sinned and stumbled but the more;

Till late I heard my Saviour say,

“Come hither, soul, I am the Way.”


Lo, glad I come; and Thou, blest Lamb,

Shalt take me to Thee as I am!

Nothing but sin have I to give;

Nothing but love shall I receive.


Now will I tell to sinners round

What a dear Saviour I have found!

I’ll point to Thy redeeming blood,

And say, “Behold the way to God!”

John Cennick