What I’m Thinking: A Highway for God

Isaiah and John the Baptist had different ideas about the phrase “a highway for God.” Both ideas have use for us.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the fortieth chapter of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1-11) and about the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 1:1-8). The reason, of course, is that the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel introduces us to John the Baptist, and John quoted extensively from the fortieth chapter of Isaiah. But he made an interesting interpretive twist.

Isaiah forty was a prophecy about the return of the people of Judah from their exile in Babylon, and so the highway for our God was also a highway for the people to make their journey from Babylon back to their grandparents’ home in Jerusalem. But when John quoted those words, he had a somewhat different idea in mind. Yes, he did believe that the nation of Israel was going to be radically restored with the coming of a Messiah, but for him the highway of God was less a highway on the ground but more a highway in the soul.

I actually think the two of them cannot be separated from each other. If we are to remake our nation into one that blesses more effectively and much more broadly; if we are to reform our communities into ones that truly care for our citizens; if we are to see that the hungry are fed and the homeless housed; then the first step is always going to be to create a highway for blessing, for correction, and for renewal in the individual human heart.

John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in order that the people might be prepared to welcome the Messiah – the one whom John expected, the one whom he would identify in Jesus of Nazareth – to welcome that Messiah with an open heart and a righteousness of spirit, and a courage of the soul.

May that be our quest as well in this Advent. As we wait for better days, let us come into those better days also as people more wholly and deeply connected to our God.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on November 30, 2020

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