I was in a mini-bus, travelling from Jerusalem, through the Negev Desert, to Eilat, in Southern Israel, a port on the Red Sea; it was hot! There was sand on both sides of the ‘highway’ as far as the eye could see, and the dry, dusty journey seemed endless. It was impossible not to think of travelling this way on foot! Or to muse on the logistics of living in the desert! Or to consider the possibility and horror of getting lost! We didn’t see much traffic, and the ‘highway’ was nothing special [this was in the 60’s], but we did know that if we followed it precisely it would lead us to Eilat, for it had been created to do so.
It was equally impossible not to consider the magnificent prophecy in Isaiah 35, which begins by telling us that the desert will ‘burst into bloom’ and ‘blossom like the rose’ [v1: New Living Translation & Amplified Bible], and goes on to say, “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way.” [v8: New International Version]. In ancient times a road to facilitate travel was made by removing obstacles and preparing ‘a way’. Often representatives would be sent ahead of a visiting Monarch to do this. Conversely, our Monarch came to earth [visited us] to remove the obstacles that would hinder our journey, clearing a highway for us to find Yahweh for ourselves. We will not get lost in the deserts of this life if we follow Yahshua precisely.
I love the picture Isaiah gives us that ‘in the desert’ is a highway of holiness that only the ransomed and redeemed are allowed to walk on. [35: 9-10]. In ancient times certain roads between temples were only open to those who were ceremonially pure, so this is a very clear statement that the Highway of Holiness leads to a place of worship, to Zion, the dwelling place of Yahweh. There the pure in heart will find a place of victory and rest, of ’everlasting joy’, where sorrow and sighing will be no more, and gladness will ‘overtake’ us! [35:10].
Photo by GidoPico