A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
Isaiah 40:3-5 (NIV)
These verses from Isaiah 40 are generally used in connection with the life of John the Baptist and his preparing the way for the coming of Jesus’ ministry:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea. This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”’ (Matthew 3:1, 3 NIV).
Knowing that the verses apply to John the Baptist, it would be very easy for us to think that we have no part to play in preparing the way for the Lord. However, it should be obvious that although Isaiah’s words were a prophecy, fulfilled in the life of John the Baptist, there is a wider application that we can take on board.
Ask yourself what you should be doing to prepare the way for the Lord. The imagery used in Isaiah is of preparing a road and the engineering works that need to be carried out to fill in the hollows, reduce the height of hills and mountains, so that the finished road is as level as possible. If you have ever seen the construction of a major motorway (or highway), you will know how much preparation is needed before the road can be used. In any ministry or work for God a lot of preparation is needed. Examples might be things like writing study materials, translating scriptures, language training or evangelism training. Even forming friendships with those you wish to share the message with take time and effort. When these are being undertaken they should be seen as necessary preparations, not as distractions from spreading the Word. Rushing ahead in ministry or evangelism often comes unstuck for lack of preparation. Of course, we can’t use the excuse of preparation to avoid getting stuck in to sharing the good news with others.
Notice Isaiah’s words:
‘And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
While the preparation is necessary, the glory of the Lord will not be revealed through the preparatory work that has been done. It might be great preparatory work, but it’s purpose is to point people to Jesus. The glory of the Lord will only be revealed by the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who hear the message.
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