Want the height? Go down!

How do we get to heights with God?

“I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.

Isaiah 57:15

Some trust in their approaches to gods through going to spiritual places and performing spiritual exercises, the Lord says that the ones he is looking for are those who fall before him.

In order to go up to him, we must go down before him!

In Jesus’ story of the pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18, the pharisee was confident before God because of his spiritual exercises. The Tax Collector, whose standing in society would be like today’s loan shark, humbled himself before God. It was the tax collector whom Jesus says was made right with God.

Do we trust in our spiritual exercises and developing righteousness to reach the Lord, or do we humble ourselves, and give ourselves to him – maybe through spiritual exercises?

God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.”

Isaiah 57:16

The road to God from captivity is littered with obstacles –things we worship that are not God. In v6 Isaiah had mocked people who worshiped stones. Now, these objects of worship must be cleared from our lives so we can return to the Lord.

The problem with our idols is that we are attached to them. It requires humility to admit they even exist before we can take that step to remove them.

Obstacles to freedom

Obstacles

Who are obstacles God clears away?

God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.”

Isaiah 57:14

Stones in the Bible often symbolise people, in this case obstacles to true freedom.

The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live … with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I … revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.

Isaiah 57:15

We all become obstacles both to our own freedom and that of others. When we respond to God’s voice in humility and repentance, we are cleared as obstacles, and freed to live.

I was angry, so I punished these greedy people. I withdrew from them, but they kept going on their own stubborn way.

Isaiah 57:17

In greed we demand from others and take that earmarked for others, disrespecting God’s boundaries. The Lord quietly introduces griefs to give us a new perspective.

I will heal them anyway…. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips.

Isaiah 57:18-19

We, the greedy are brought to mourning so that the Lord can comfort and bring us to a place of praise!

 May they have abundant peace …

Isaiah 57:19

Resting in God’s peace frees us from the drivenness of greed.

“But those who still reject me are like the restless sea, which is never still …,”

Isaiah 57:20-21

Those who resist have no peace. Their restlessness drives people into captivity. These are the rocks still to be removed.