PREPARE THE WAY
ISAIAH 40:1-5 1 "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 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 prophesied from to a nation that had turned a deaf ear to the Lord. Instead of serving Him with humility and offering love to their neighbors, the nation of Judah were idolatrous in heart and defiled God’s temple at Jerusalem. They committed injustices throughout the nation. The people of Judah turned their backs on God and alienated themselves from Him, which prompted Isaiah’s pronouncements of judgment—declarations made in the hope that God’s chosen people would return to Him. The book of Isaiah has been coined as the "Bible within the Bible". The first half of the book (chapters 1-39) detail judgments against the people who have turned their backs on the Lord, showing us that the wages of sin is judgement and death. It is a historic prophesying and warning of the prophet to a stubborn people before their fall. After their Babylonian Captivity, a repentant people hears the word of the prophet beginning from chapter 40, wherein God announces comfort and rescue. God is just, but on the other hand, we also see God’s mercy and grace and His faithfulness to His promise. This is the story of the whole Bible and God's story in our lives as well. There is judgement to sin and it will not go unpunished. We are all sinners but through repentance, there is grace and forgiveness because mercy triumphs over judgment through the finished work of Christ for us on the cross. This passage of Isaiah clearly reveals the character of our GOD: 1. GOD is the GOD of JUSTICE 2. GOD is the GOD of MERCY
1. GOD is the GOD of GLORY (POWER, HONOUR, MAJESTY)
2. GOD is the GOD of COMFORT (COMPASSION, GRACE, LOVE) The book of Isaiah contains one of the clearest reflections of the gospel in all the Old Testament. Sin - Judgment - Repentance - Salvation. Salvation lies only in God—the only question is whether or not we will repent and accept His offer. The fulfillment of this passage occurred in the life of John the Baptiser (Matt.3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:3-6). He is the voice in the desert crying out and who prepared the way of the Lord. How did he do this? He preached repentance. This year's theme is a CALL for REPENTANCE - a U-turn, a yielding of our hearts, the renewing of our minds and the surrendering of our lives to the King of Glory. It is also a CALL to SERVE Him. Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord, we also are the ones in our time to Prepare the Way for the Lord - to our families, neighbours, classmates, workmates, cities, and nations.
The Church - you and me- IS THE HIGHWAY OF OUR GOD in this spiritual wilderness. And in order to prepare the way for the Lord, repentance is a must:
"4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. Repentance is not just for non-believers and not just once in a lifetime response unto the Lord. When we yield our lives to Jesus, He begins the process of transforming our lives and the movement of that is from one repentance to another.. Every valleys or low places of our hearts and minds, He raises up. Every high places or arrogance and pride in our lives are lowered and every rough grounds and rugged places in our soul levelled. When we yield to Him, we prepare His way. When we pray we prepare His way. When we worship and grow in His Word we prepare His way. When we serve others we prepare His way. Our transformed lives and testimonies is the reflection of His glory.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
CHRIST in you and me is the HOPE of Glory! He wants to reveal His Glory through our restored, redeemed and transformed lives! Let's PREPARE the WAY of the LORD! He wants to move in the lives of others and you are His highway towards them. Dear God, I repent of the things in my life that are barriers to your perfect will for me. I yield to you and ask you to use me. Let my life and our church be a highway fro you to reach others with the truth and power of your salvation. May I always be willing and prepared to receive your Word and serve you. In Jesus, Amen. Discussion Questions:
How does this passage reflect the character of God? His heart for His people? His regard for his glory?
What is REPENTANCE?
What does it mean to PREPARE THE WAY of the LORD? How can we do it?
"You are the highway of God in this wilderness" - what does this mean for you?
What is your story or testimony you can share to others so they see God's glory through your life?
What are the valleys, hills/mountains, rough and rugged places in your life that needs to be surrendered and be removed?