The nation of Israel had turned their backs on the Lord. God had given them strong warning and had revealed to them their future captivity because of their sin. But, God being rich in his mercy did not leave them hopeless but looked forward, to reveal hope, mercy and grace and forgiveness for the nation of Israel.
So, God moves from a place of condemnation because of sin that would result in their physical captivity to a place of hope because of the spiritual rescue from sin. God’s plan was focused on the root of the nations’ problems (their sin) and not as much the physical consequence of their sin.
In this post, we will focus on Isaiah 40:3-5 —
3 A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the LORD in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. 4 Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD will appear, and all humanity together will see it, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
A forerunner in ancient times was someone who would go ahead of the king’s procession to clear the roads, repair potholes, and make sure the path was safe. They prepared the way so that the king could be seen and be praised by the crowds. In modern times, the term forerunner is still used in some sporting events, including the winter sport of bobsled. Beginner athletes slide down the bobsled track in their sleds right before the competition begins to make sure the track is safe, the timing equipment is working properly, and the track is ready for the race to begin. They prepare the way so that the race competitors can be seen and praised for their victory!
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ.
1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” 3 For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight! 4 John himself had a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. (Matthew 3:1-6)
John’s purpose, as the forerunner of Jesus, was to prepare the spiritual landscape of people’s heart so that they could be prepared to believe in Jesus when He came. Just as Isaiah prophesied to a group of people whose hearts were hardened, so it was with John the Baptist. His message of repentance prepared the way for people to see Jesus and praise Him.
What about you? Are you willing to be a forerunner for Christ, in a similar way to John the Baptist? Will you allow God to use you to prepare the way in people’s hearts to hear the message of salvation that is available through Christ?
As the Holy Spirit empowers you, He uses your attitudes, your words, your decisions, your very life to point people to Jesus. May God use you to point many people to Him.
a special thanks to my friend Keith Savage for his contribution to this blog post