8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness.
The unclean will not journey on it;
it will be for those who walk in that Way;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
nor will any ferocious beast get up on it;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and the ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, we did lectio divina the other night with 7 children and 5 adults. There were varying reactions. LightBoy recognized elements of the Psalms in this reading which cheered his mother’s heart greatly.
It was very interesting to me that verse 8 rang out to me and LightHusband and LightGirl, but for different reasons and in different ways, but when we put all of our parts together the story became complete. LightGirl heard a command to holiness and was offended because no one can be completely holy in this life, so who could walk on this highway? I heard a promise that all will be kept safe from highway men and beasts. LightHusband heard a prophecy fulfilled in that we live after Jesus in a time and place when there are no unclean, and the lions and ferocious beasts are penned. We have been redeemed and walk in freedom.
Not all who live in the world are so blessed I reminded LightHusband. Those who live in the land where these words were originally spoken might disagree that they have been fulfilled. Then one of the other children wanted to know where they had been spoken, so we talked about that for a little.
This Highway … it made quite an impression on me. I’ve been pondering it. Isaiah’s prophecy is rich in description here. I went looking for his timeline and place. Isaiah is dated to sometime towards the trickly end of the Assyrian Empire, he did some of his prophesying during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah. This puts him close to 700 BCE and makes the capital of the Assyrian Empire, Nineveh. Ohhh … where have we heard about that city before? I wanted to know where Nineveh is/was. It’s about 2/3 of the way up the Tigris river in what is modern day Iraq. The ancient ruins were completely looted in 2003 and much of our common history was lost.
I found a map ..
… of the Assyrian Empire.
Now, if you look at that map, the red line indicates the path that the Hebrew exiles took out of Israel when the Assyrians overran them. Take a moment and ponder the idea of exile in 722 BCE. Let the stink and sweat of fear, loss, hunger and death permeate your bones for a few minutes as you consider a forced march and endless footsteps of dry, dusty desert to slavery.
Read Isaiah’s prophecy again. Read what he has to tell those Hebrew men and women about what God has in store for them. Wait, he says, wait. God’s road back will be filled with water, and safety and clean clothes, and good food to eat and there will be joy and singing at the end. You will come home. You will come home. And we will have a party. What faith. What hope.
Can we too hang on? Can we remember this? This road back to God … She promises it will be filled with good food and water and there is going to be a party at the end. We’ll be safe too. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, with our eyes on Him.