“A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” — Isaiah 40:3–5 (NASB95)
This morning we remain in Isaiah chapter 40. We will be in this chapter for several days. I guess no one should be surprised that a prophecy concerning John the Baptist would find itself in what would be the first chapter of the New Testament if Isaiah is the Bible within the Bible. Look at the first four words of these verses: “A voice is calling.” This reminds me of the words in Proverbs that “Wisdom calls aloud in the streets.” God is constantly and continuously calling out to us to hear and to listen to His truths. The question is always, are we listening?
But this time the call is specific. The glory of the Lord (Jesus) was about to be revealed and preparation needed to take place. John the Baptist would be the one who would prepare the way for the Lord to come. He preached a message of repentance so that hearts would be ready to receive the Lord of grace when arrived. I am concerned when I hear modern Christians bypass the message of repentance and simply emphasize God’s love. We don’t like talking about sin and its consequences. We would rather focus on the warmth and fuzziness of love. Now listen! I am not at all playing down the importance of God’s love and grace. But it is important to understand that the depth of God’s love cannot be understood until we understand the depth of our sins and have repented of them. The message of sin and repentance is a necessary prerequisite to the message of the Gospel. Jesus Himself began His ministry with these words: “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
Only by facing our brokenness can we allow God’s Word to knock down our high places and fill our low places. God’s Word is a complete package. It has the ability to convict and repair our hearts. Today, let’s open ourselves up to the Word of the Lord. Let’s allow the law (as painful as it can be at times) to do what it needs to do so we can drink deeply of the grace and forgiveness Jesus offers in the Gospel.