“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness 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 mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’” — Isaiah 40:3-5
A long time ago it was common for a city like Jerusalem to prepare (get ready) for a visiting king or dignitary. City officials would send thousands of workers into the desert to smooth the path for the coming king. They would knock down hills and fill in holes until the path into the city was completely flat. This is the way they showed the visiting dignitary that he was important.
Between November and December we spend hours and hours preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We clean. We decorate. We clean. We cook. We clean. We shop. How many hours will you spend this month just preparing for Christmas? Given all that commitment and preparation, how many hours will you spend preparing for Christmas spiritually?
When John the Baptist began his ministry he went out into the desert to prepare the way for the Lord. He did not go out and knock down dirt hills and fill in earthen holes. He preached to anyone who would listen a message of repentance and spiritual renewal. He knocked down hills of spiritual ignorance and filled in holes of guilt and shame. He laid the foundation for the coming of the Messiah. Look how specifically Isaiah describes John the Baptist.
“And the glory of the Lord will be revealed.” John the Baptist — what a strange way to reveal God’s glory! How He used this camel-hair-clothed, locust-eating man preaching in the desert that the Kingdom of God was at hand! The Kingdom of God has been at hand from that day and is still at hand today.
May we all be willing to insert some time for spiritual preparation as we physically prepare. The Messianic Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom and it requires spiritual preparation.