In chapter thirty-five, Isaiah mentions a “highway” for the third time (see also chapters 11 & 19). In all three cases, it stands for a way paved smooth to God. In previous texts, it is not just for the Jews, but for everyone who undertakes to serve and obey the Lord.
In this chapter, the writer begins with Exodus language. Though the journey begins with a call to the desert, God will open the way for those who seek Him and the desolate path will widen to a smooth road. Notice that the call to God does not begin with a call to a smooth road, but to a desert road.
God’s people have always struggled with this: “Hear my righteous plea” and “Judge me according to my righteousness” David wrote when going through difficult times. Even Job didn’t understand why he was having so many difficulties. When we acknowledge our transgressions and turn to the Lord, shouldn’t life get easier.
The answer, in Isaiah 35, is “no.” It’s not that simple. The highway of God is not a decision. It is a lifestyle; a lifestyle known as holiness. As we begin to live that life, the desert road takes on new vistas. The view gets better and better, but the life of holiness must be begun, and it must be lived for that to happen.
In other words, the way to the smooth straight road is often winding and uncomfortable, but it must be taken to reach the highway of God.