And whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way [ha-derek]. Walk in it.”
Derek, meaning (the) Way, is a noun that shows up over 700 times in the Hebrew Bible. The Biblical writers implored people to walk in the way of God. Even YHWH commissioned His people to walk in His path and to stay focused on His way by seeking Him and studying His Word.
The path was like a roadway that led to God, but it was more than that, it was a lifestyle… a way of living that would ultimately place the follower in the Presence of YHWH when their time on earth was done. The way led towards life and away from death:
See, I have placed before you today life and happiness, and death and adversity, in that I am commanding you today to love YHWH your God, to walk in His ways [bi-d’rakaw] and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, so that you may live and become numerous, and that YHWH your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to take possession of it.
But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but allow yourself to be led astray and you worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you will certainly perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and take possession of it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have placed before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live…!”
Simply put, there was a path. In one direction was life and the other direction was death. The Bible implores us to choose the way that leads to life.
The prophet Ezekiel reflected YHWH’s words in his scroll. YHWH pointed out that many people tried to convince themselves that His way was, actually, not the right way. And so God challenged His people with the question, “who is right? Me or you?”:
[YHWH:] “But the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord [derek adonai] is not right.’
Are My ways [ha-d’rakai] not right, house of Israel? Is it not your ways [ha-lo dar’kekem] that are not right?
Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, each according to his ways [ki-d’rakaw],” declares the Lord YHWH. “Repent and turn away from all your offenses, so that wrongdoing does not become a stumbling block to you. Hurl away from you all your offenses which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why should you die, house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord YHWH. “Therefore, repent and live!”
In other words, turn around before it’s too late. Stop, pivot, and head the right way… the way to life! It’s the way God wants everyone to go. He takes no pleasure in those who are turned around and heading in the direction of death. He desperately wants us all to choose life.
The prophet Isaiah saw this forward path as a grand roadway which he called the Way of Holiness. At the end of this road there would be no sorrow, but rather endless joy:
And there shall be a roadway, a highway, and the Way of Holiness [wa-derek w’derek] it shall be called. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for the one who walks that way [derek], and fools will not wander on it…
…But the redeemed will walk there, and the redeemed of YHWH will return and come to Zion with joyful shouting, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Walking in God’s way meant sharing His path and being willing to be led by Him. It was a simple concept with profound meaning. Yeshua said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Yeshua’s the guiding light on the pathway to God’s Kingdom, and He is the shining example of what Kingdom-Living looks like.
The story of Yeshua feeding the four thousand gave us a hint into Yeshua’s heart on the matter. He recognized that the people needed sustenance:
“If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way [Greek: te hodo]. For some of them have come a great distance.”
To survive on the path that leads to YHWH we need sustenance. We don’t just need physical nourishment, we need spiritual nourishment as well. We need to seek and study God’s word; we need to pray and connect with YHWH. If we don’t, we will faint along the way; we won’t make it.
Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused and stay on the path. It’s easy to wander off and get turned around, but YHWH promised to lead His people home, for all who have searched for Him with a sincere heart:
[YHWH:] “But if you return to Me and keep and practice My commandments, then even if your exiles have been banished to the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for My Name.”
If your heart is open to YHWH, then no matter how far you stray from the Way, He will gather you up and place you back on the path to His Kingdom. The way of YHWH has an end. At the end of your journey you will see God’s face and you will be home at last!
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Next week: Homeless