They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Walking the Path II

To further expand on my first story on “walking the path”, I found more notes on a lesson we had while climbing Mt. Katarina in Egypt. We discussed the word, life, or to live, being the Hebrew word halak (Strong’s 1980), which is to walk. If life is a walk, then there must be a path to walk on, and obviously more than one path. So there are some choices of path to be made. Just in the book of Deuteronomy, I found five references to walking the correct path, or the Lord’s path (5:32 and 33, 6:7, 8:6, 10:12 and 13, 11:19, 11:22, and 26:17). Deuteronomy 5:32-33 says it the best. “Do not turn to the right or left” — walk in the way that God has commanded you. Also Jeremiah 6:16 says “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it” — so it is definitely saying, it’s a choice to walk on God’s path.

Psalm 23 says, “He guides me in paths of righteousness”, Psalm 25:4 says, “teach me your paths”, Psalm 27:11, “lead me in a straight path”, 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”, Proverbs 3:6 – “…he will make your paths straight”, and 4:26 “Make level paths for your feet”. Isaiah 2: 3, “…so that we may walk in his paths.” The idea of the path being life in the Bible is everywhere. He wants us on His path, the path of life.

We had a guide on our trip up the mountain so that we wouldn’t get lost. In the same way, the word is our guide, (Psalm 119:105), so that we don’t lose our way. Scripture is also full of examples that God is our guide in life and in fact walks with us on the path.

In Genesis, God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. Genesis 5:24 says Enoch walked with God and Hebrews 11:5 said Enoch pleased God. In Genesis 17:1 God told Abraham to “walk before me and be blameless”.

A great example of how the phrase “to walk” or walking is used in the Bible is found in the New Testament in the Gospels. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming, he said, “Behold, look, the Lamb of God”. The Greek word for (coming) there is actually,” walking”. If you use that like a Jew would have, when he saw how Jesus was walking, or how he was living, then he knew he must be the Messiah. How Jesus was walking (living) convinced John that he was the Messiah.

When you walk, does anyone see Jesus in your walk? Does your walk have a familiar Jesus look to it? We are to imitate the walk that Jesus walked. 1 John 2:6 says we must walk as Jesus did. It’s not just enough to know the path; even the devil knows the path. But do we know how to walk it and are we traveling it with passion?

The picture of life as a path is also good in that it gives the idea that it’s not always easy walking. Life is not a paved sidewalk. It has some steep inclines and there are plenty of rocks in the way. There are little stones, things that are annoying and cause you some problems, but don’t stop you. Then there are bigger stones, you lose your job, you kids have problems, etc. Then there are the huge stones that bring you to your knees and you’re not sure if there’s even a way over them. The huge problems of life such as death, disease, children leaving the faith, are problems that there is no way over or around. What does God do about the huge boulders in our path? Psalm 81, says if you are on my path, I will satisfy you with honey from the rock. The same rock that brought you to your knees has enough of God in it to give you a taste to take one more step. We know God most intimately during these huge rock moments. When you hit the rock there will be a taste of God to get you through. Only make sure you are on his path, because the promise of honey is only good if you are on the correct path. One other thought is to be careful when you ask for honey; God may put it in a rock.

The last metaphor on the path of life is to leave it in better shape than you found it. These paths are thousands of years old and have been walked by many saints before. Their job and ours is to make the path a little cleaner, a little easier to find for the next person to follow us down the path. Paths are kept clean by walking them, if not they get overgrown.

The desert and its paths are a great picture of life — they are tough and sometimes the conditions are harsh, but they have a beauty all their own. Life is certainly much more like the desert than it is Hawaii, which we have a tendency to make believers think that’s where they’re going after they become a Christian.

Walking the Path

Ancient Paths

Ancient Paths

One of the neat metaphors we begin to see as we walked the wadiis (arroyos or canyons) of the Egyptian desert was the concept of walking the path of life.

First of all, we learned that to a Hebrew, life is a walk. The word that is often translated in the Bible as live, in Hebrew, (halak) is really “walk”. 1st Peter 2:12 says, “Live such good lives among the pagans that they will see your good deeds”. The word, “live” in that verse is the Hebrew word for walk. Hebrews don’t say live, like we do, it’s experiential, they say, walk like we walk – live it out. 2 Corinthians 5:7 – we live by faith, not by sight, is also actually the verb in Hebrew “to walk“. So life to them is a path that you must walk. It’s experiential, much more so than the word live, indicates. If life is a walk, there must be a path or more than on and there must be some choices in what path to follow. To summarize, life is a path that must be consciously followed and there are many choices to make in order to walk it out properly.

One metaphor that mirrors life’s walk, that we noticed while hiking, was that often you can’t see very far ahead of you. The trail goes around the bend and the path is not in sight. You have to trust whoever is leading you that you are on the right path, thus “We walk by faith, not by sight.” And God promises, “if you are following me, I’ll be around the next bend, even though you can’t see me from where you are now”. He may be around the bend in the form of a broom or acacia tree, a place for you to get some shade from the heat, or he may be a spring of water for a drink.

The Old Testament actually does not talk about heaven that much. We are supposed to walk (live) hard for God now, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick – walk hard now then at the end will be heaven. You can expand on this metaphor a lot more. Look at these verses.

Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
— Isaiah 2:3 [Emphasis mine]

This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
— Jeremiah 6:16 [Emphasis mine]

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
— 1 Peter 2:12

For in the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
— Romans 1:17 [Emphasis mine]

Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”
— Galatians 3:11 [Emphasis mine]

But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.”
— Hebrews 10:38 [Emphasis mine]

“See, he is puffed up;
his desires are not upright-
but the righteous will live by his faith
— Habakkuk 2:4 [Emphasis mine]

So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left
— Deuteronomy 5:32 (indicating that you are on a path)

Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him.
— Deuteronomy 8:6 [Emphasis mine]

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
— Micah 6:8 [Emphasis mine]

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
— Deuteronomy 10:12, 13 [Emphasis mine]