The Highway of Holiness

2836068414_0cc65cdf8eI get very sentimental about certain passages in the Bible.  It is rare to go a day without certain words jumping off the pages of my Bible, landing right before my eyes as I ingest them with wonder and awe.  No doubt you will eventually hear about most of them on this blog.

Today I was reminded of Isaiah 35 – a glorious passage of hope and promise.  It follows a much harder chapter, though.  Chapter 34 says some very hard words to Israel and to all nations, in fact.    It tells them that God is outraged at His people — it tells us that God can be outraged at us.  It tells us that there were consequences for their actions – that God will require consequences for our actions.

So when we flip the page and read chapter 35, our eyes are drawn away from wrath of God in chapter 34 and are then transported into a world of God’s love, which seen so abundantly in chapter 35.  Here we can rest.  We can breathe.  We need to see both God’s wrath and God’s love if we are to fully understand who God really is, don’t we?

The history of Isaiah is revelatory of our past but also illuminates the contemporary soul.  It uses rich imagery to draw us deep within its pages.  We see the history of a disobedient Hebrew people.  We watch them walk through each page because the imagery is so beautifully painted by the author that we find it hard to close the book.  We hear the condemning and encouraging words of a faithful prophet who warned God’s people time and time again to repent of their disobedience.   Isaiah continually reminded God’s people to be faithful.

If we stop here, however, and simply view Isaiah as a history book, we lose something of extreme value, because as we turn each page, we see Isaiah’s finger pointing right back at us.  If we are honest, we must see our own lives in these words and wonder if we are the ones being disobedient….if we are the ones being unfaithful.

We are reminded in  Isaiah 56:12 that “Tomorrow will be just like today!”  It’s such a universal truth, isn’t it?   Our generation is not unique.  We are not more enlightened than the Israelites.  We are very much like our ancestors.  We choose sin over good – it is our nature.  Almost three thousand years later, the words of Isaiah still have the power to convict today.

So here’s the verse I love so much.  Isaiah 35:8.

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.

What a promise!  Unlike the promises of today’s politicians who promise change — who lack integrity — purposely choosing to forget promises that have been made, God’s promises are a sure thing.  God is faithful.  We are not.

We can relate to the struggles of the early Hebrew people because their struggle is not unique.  They disobeyed.  We disobey.  They failed.  We fail.   They chose to sin.  We choose to sin.  Their hearts were not humble before the Lord….and neither are ours.  Both generations choose willingly to let the contemporary culture of their era not only attract them, but entrap them.

God’s path to holiness belongs to those He has chosen.  Even if we have become fools (and we have), we will not go astray.  God will use whatever means required to present justice to us in such a way that we can recognize the Hand of God.  We have the Holy Spirit living in us — God living in us.  Many times we must place our feet on the rocky road to see that Hand, but how sweet it is when we take the fork of the road that leads towards the smooth path of righteousness — for His namesake, not our own.

Image by Cindytoo (Creative Commons Attribution License)

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