The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they 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;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. - Isiah 35:1-10
Over the past few decades we have become so accustomed to technology and its advances that nothing really surprises us anymore. I visited the Smithsonian Institution some years ago and looked at one of the first electronic computers ever used. It took up nearly a whole room, and probably had less computing power than my exercise tracker that fits on my wrist. With the advance of technology, especially cell phones, it's now possible to carry a computer with Internet access in a pocket. It comes complete with contacts, phone list, appointments, bank access, movies, games, whole books, and apps that direct us from point A to point B even if we've never been to point B before.
It used to be, years ago, that if you wanted to go somewhere you had never been, you either called AAA or you stopped at a gas station and got a map. For the map-challenged it was still no complete answer. Then companies like Garmin and Tom-Tom had little gizmos where you could plug in the address and it would give you turn by turn directions in a variety of voices — male, female, American or British. Having a vaguely James Bond- like voice telling you which way to go was definitely easier and more pleasant than looking at a map. Now we have cell phones that can do the same thing and don't require a separate device to get us from A to B.
Moses managed to get the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised lLand without recourse to maps, Garmin, or cell phone app. Of course, it took him 40 years, and there was no clearly marked Highway with direction signs pointing in the right direction. He still got there, but it took him a long time and God had to be consulted fairly frequently, I imagine.
In Isaiah's time, the captives had somebody leading them to Babylon which was a fairly well defined route. The way home would be similar, but there were still chances to take the wrong turn, face wild animals or robbers, and people having different opinions as to which way to go. The kingdom of God, however. Had a well-defined route, a more than competent guide, and no worries as to trials and tribulations. There was one caveat: the Holy Way was for the righteous and not for just every Tom, Dick, or Harry. Isaiah had already told them that their journey to righteousness would be guided by God, and that God would speak in their ear as to what direction to take and which to avoid. As long as they remained righteous, all would be well.
Advent as the season is a time to contemplate the journey ahead and plan the route. It's a time for listening and the time for action. The road may not always be smooth, but by actively listening and acting on what we are told to do will get us to our destination without resorting to Google maps or in vehicle directional devices.
I wonder if God comes with a selection of voices? Would I pay more attention if it was James Bond whispering in my ear?