Monday, January 14, 2008


Last Sunday morning, I woke up at my usual 5am time to spend another 90 minutes “praying in” my message for that morning. Around 6:30 I sat down with a cup of coffee, the Tyler Paper, and turned on Headline News.

It must have been a slow news morning because the featured story was about a group of Christians in the Dallas area who believe that Interstate 35 is the “Holy Highway” prophesied in Is 35:8 (Is 35 = I-35, get it?) The HNN report showed a group of Christians standing beside I-35 praying fervently for the people traveling on the highway. To be honest, they came across as a bunch of “crazies” which is probably what the producer of the news piece wanted.

In case you haven’t heard or seen the story, Isaiah 35:8 says, “A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it. But it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray.” (That’s KJV which is the only one they’re using).

Three years ago self-described prophet and God Channel regular Cindy Jacobs was preaching in a Texas church when she said she made the first public connection between the interstate and Bible verse.

"It's amazing that there's a scripture that talks about the highway of holiness and there's an actual one," said Jacobs, who co-founded Generals International ministry in Red Oak, Texas, which leads the Light the Highway movement.

Cindy has enlisted other pastors and churches along I-35 from Laredo, TX to Duluth, Minn. to join her in her quest to Light the Highway. One of the pastors who has joined her is Austin’s Promiseland Church pastor Charlie Lujan. His quote is interesting. He said, “Everything we do, we want to make sure scripture is backing us up. I-35 being Isaiah 35, it just matched.”

Many of the I-35 Highway of Holiness proponents believe that the collapse of the bridge on I-35W in Minneapolis last year was a warning sign from God that more prayer is needed in our nation.

Not every pastor is convinced this if from God, however. Bob DeWaay, pastor at the Evangelical Twin City Fellowship in St. Louis Park, Minn. scoffs the effort saying, “God isn't going to determine how He works based on the highway system.”

My first reaction was that these are religious nuts, the kind that give all Christians a bad name. But being the optimist that I am, I see some positive things about the “light the highway” movement.

1. It’s good to PRAY anytime and anywhere. Any movement that mobilizes people to pray for our nation and travelers on any highway shouldn’t be discouraged.

2. These people take the Bible seriously – if not correctly – at least seriously.

3. These people believe that God is still active and real in our world and that His Word is to applied to our time – even to something as seemingly mundane as a highway.

However, there are a few sound arguments against what they’re doing.

1. Reputable Biblical scholarship cannot justify using the number of a Bible chapter to correspond with a highway number. I believe that God’s Word is totally without error, but the original text of the Old and New Testaments didn't even have chapter or verse divisions. The present chapter divisions in our Bibles were invented and inserted in 1205 by Stephen Langton, a professor in Paris who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury. He followed the chapter divisions of the Old Testament used by Jewish rabbis in 1330 for the Hebrew Old Testament.

2. There is always a danger of taking scripture out of context to “match” a personal belief (called "proof texting"). I’ve said many times that “a text without a context becomes a pretext.” This is an extreme example of this.

3. It’s always dangerous to “play God” and try to announce that God was repsonsible for tragic events. Blaming God for the bridge collapse on I-35 falls into the same category as those who agree with Pat Robertson’s statement that the 9/11 attacks were sent by God as punishment for homosexuality and abortions in America.

So is this legitimate? Only God knows. But since I live closer to I-20, I feel left out, actually. The travelers on I-20 need prayers too.
Hey, I may have found an I-20 verse! Is 20:2 says “Go and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so walking barefoot naked and barefoot … for three years.” On second thought … never mind.

This reminds me of when I was a pastor in Alabama. A rabid Alabama Crimson Tide fan drew me aside and took his Bible to PROVE to me that ‘Bama was superior to Auburn. He opened his Bible to Ezekiel 20:29 and read, “What is this high place to which you go? So its name is called Bamah (which he prounonced ‘Bama) to this day.” I laughed when he finished reading it …. Only to look at his face and realize HE WASN’T KIDDING! Oh well.