YHWH’s redemption overwhelms human failure. Such is the nature of grace, not so much to take mercy’s captives by violence as to call them into something far better than they are. The history of theology has words for grace like this, ‘irresistible’ being one of them that is not universally endorsed but nonetheless makes the point of grace’s strong persuasion.
The beautiful vignette at the hinge-point of the long book of Isaiah sketches the unlikely drawing of a highway through the foreboding desert. It is a path that will carry YHWH’s band of redeemed captives from Babylon back to their homes. Around it, the parched ground blossoms as threat cedes its grip and a future moves in.
A tiny turn of phrase touches upon human vulnerability of the kind that is impossible to admire, now finding itself taken into the embrace of YHWH’s mercy.
A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. (Isaiah 35:8 NRSV)
Fools go astray by nature. They are clueless when passive, and rebellious when active. There is no good in a fool’s way, only dead ends and slow-motion train wrecks both large and small.
Yet in this snapshot of redemption the text allows that upon this highway to YHWH’s welcoming future not even fools shall go astray.
Grace persuasive, grace protective, grace that leads the clueless all the way home.