Isaiah uses the prophetic metaphor of a Holy City to describe the new creation people.
A walled city speaks of refuge and protection. God’s family live in a fortress city called Salvation. You have entered into and live with God. He has saved you. And what do you do as you enter your Hometown? You pass through the gates of praise.
Praise is a condition of the heart; an attitude of love and belonging that welcomes the presence of the ‘Other’. Praise is our way of saying to God, “I’m home! I’m back where I belong. I’m here now.”
The violence, ruin and destruction in our world will be left outside when we enter into the city of Salvation. Later, the prophet continues the city metaphor and says:
What are the gates into the city? Praise is the door you pass through when you enter into Salvation City. There is also a work to prepare for others entering into this Sacred Space with God. There is a highway being built that leads people to the City Gates. There are many obstacles and barriers that keep people from getting to the City.
Mark’s Gospel echoes this storyline when he refers to John the Baptist’s mission.
When we worship God and get close enough to hear His Heartbeat, we are changed from people who stumble to people who remove stones in the path. Worshippers become road-builders who fill in low places and blow up mountains.
How is the road in your wilderness? Is your worship and praise providing you with safe passage in spite of the surrounding harsh conditions?
Jesus is our path home.