Road building

“Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth” (Isaiah 40:3-4).

Roads through mountains or high hills have always fascinated me. The sheer amount of labor involved in cutting a way through a rugged range, not to mention the engineering skills and material required, is staggering. Yet wherever I travel it seems that someone either already has or is in the process of making a better route.

In Nepal’s Himalayas, there are now roads to villages where only a few years ago I walked for days to reach. These roads are certainly not highways, yet travel by car and truck is possible, and their number is increasing steadily. One cannot imagine a paved road to the top of Mount Everest, but it is incredible what has already been accomplished.

The prophet Isaiah envisioned a much different road, yet one that was even harder to achieve. That is the road which God would travel in order to bring salvation to his people. It would have to traverse many deep valleys and climb countless high mountains. It would navigate around crooked places and over rough terrain. Those obstacles included human pride, unbelief, uncontrolled desire, and sin.

No human agency could prepare that way. Overcoming sin and guilt is a divine task, one that only God possesses sufficient power and wisdom to achieve. God prepared the way through his son, Jesus, who provided the only possible redemption for mankind. As the Spirit declares, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared in the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

In another passage from his book of oracles, Isaiah wrote beautifully:

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 it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; it shall not be found there. 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).

No place on earth is so difficult to reach as the precious fellowship of God. Without his grace and mercy, it would be impossible to be reconciled to the one against whom we have sinned. But God has prepared the way. The path to eternal salvation is both beautiful and secure. All may enter it who will submit to him in obedient trust.

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