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“Then you will find your joy in the Lord and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land.” (Is 58:14)
It’s always wise, when reading scripture, to search out the meaning behind the words, and to discover the context of the passage. This is a verse from Isaiah, one of the great prophets who was chosen by God to tell His people what they were doing wrong and encourage them to repent. Isaiah does tell them, in very blunt words at times, that they are not doing what God wants them to do. He calls them to turn back to their God. It wasn’t a message the people wanted to hear.
But then comes verse 58:14. Now you could take this verse to simply mean that the people will be blessed and prosperous in the land where they live. But it means more than that. You see, the “heights” Isaiah is talking about are the “high places” – the places where they went to worship idols. The Hebrew people had allowed the religions of pagan nations to dilute and pollute their faith in God. They said they wanted to worship Yaweh but they were hooked. They couldn’t stay away from those “high places.” The pagan practices had become part of the very fabric of their lives. Tearing them down would have seemed impossible.
It would be like us going totally against our culture today – turning off our TVs, throwing away our cell phones, rejecting the constant barrage of entertainment that is in direct conflict with what we believe as Christians. It would mean ridding ourselves of and totally rejecting those things in our lives that take the place only God should hold.
Not easy. Perhaps you’ve noticed. Idols are not easy things to rid ourselves of. Usually it’s because they give us something we crave – some satisfaction, perhaps some special feeling of accomplishment.
It wasn’t easy for those Hebrews to give up their “high places.” But Isaiah promised them that God would help them do it. He would make the ordinary into the extraordinary. He would give them the strength and courage and yes joy that would allow them to follow God wholeheartedly, without reservation. He promised them victory in every way.
And that is a promise we can claim as well.
Listen to what the prophet Habbakuk says – “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19). That’s a beautiful picture isn’t it? Of an agile deer leaping and bounding wherever he wants to go. It’s a picture of true freedom and that’s what God offer us.
So, are there high places in your life? God will supply what is needed. And then, oh, and then, ‘you will find your joy!’
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has three devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.
Her most recent release is the first book in a fantasy series, The Ambassadors
Visit Marcia’s WebsiteSign up to receive her emailed devotional column, The Spur
Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded here.
Celebrate This Day is a devotional for special occasions.