Isa 40:3-5 - A voice cries out: 'In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; and in the desert a straight highway for our God.'4. Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be lowered; the rough ground will become level, and the mountain ridges made a plain.5.Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all humanity will see it at once; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
The context of the above Scripture is God promising Israel deliverance after their captivity by the Babylonians. Israel, at this time, would have been taken as prisoners to Babylon; however, God promises a return of His people to their land of promise. This deliverance would be done by God. God would prepare and use all necessary agents required to get Israel back in her country of promise. The people of Israel were given a responsibility by God to prepare the way for the Lord who would accomplish this great work on their behalf.
Scripture has numerous examples of men who were asked by God to prepare before He would appear in His glory to them. Abraham was asked to prepare an offering for God before God would make a covenant with him concerning Canaan (Gen 15). Before Moses received his call to be Israel’s deliverer he had to take off his shoes. Moses was instructed to prepare Israel for a meeting with God - Exodus 19:10-12 - The LORD told Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. They must wash their clothes, 11 and be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.12. You are to set boundaries for the people all around: 'Be very careful that you don't go up on the mountain or touch the side of it. Anyone who touches the mountain will surely be put to death. In the New Testament the disciples had to wait in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This waiting for the Holy Spirit was a preparatory action by the disciples to meet with God.
The call to prepare the way for the Lord implies that His appearance is to be met with dignity. God is the King of glory. On earth we make preparation at our homes or businesses to meet distinguished guests. In ancient times when a king moved from one city to another, a herald (messenger/ announcer) was sent before the king’s arrival at a city to prepare the people and city to meet the monarch. To prepare for the Lord is to hallow Him. In other words it is to recognise God’s deity and holiness. To prepare for the Lord is also to show reverence to God. In ancient times when the herald announced the coming of a king, people made preparation to make the place fit for the reception of royalty. The request found in Isaiah 40:3-5 has a universal appeal. God always want to meet with His people to benefit them. God’s people does not consist of one nation only; God has people in every nation.
A voice is to cry out in the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord. Now of cause this can’t make sense because who lives in the wilderness. The wilderness is a place of scourging heat and sand storms, snakes and scorpions, dryness and a place of no shelter and where water is difficult to find. Isaiah uses metaphorical language which describes the condition of the hearts of the people of Israel. It is the condition in which the nation found itself that is described as a desert and it is from this position the prophecy is to be echoed. For example Israel was taken into captivity by the Babylonians due to their hardness of heart; their unwillingness to repent and their unwillingness to uphold the Law of God. Just before Judah received the final word of certain captivity, king Zedekiah ordered that all Hebrew slaves should be set free. This was done by the nation, however, after the Babylonians retreated these people were taken back as slaves by their masters. This behaviour was a violation of the Jubilee law which is a very serious law in the sight of God. This was a violation against their own fellow men and it was met with God’s judgment (Babylonian captivity).
In South Africa, the church has reason to prepare for God’s glory. South Africa has been implicated in many prophesies as a country from which a move of God will start that will go global. The nation currently finds herself in a wilderness of sin and wickedness which is unmatched by former decades and generations. Currently our streets are filled with lies, deceit, corruption, violence and murder, rape, gangsterism, disrespect for law and order by both ordinary citizens and people in government. The spirit of greed, selfishness and intolerance has become wickedness’s of our nation. We now have places called HOT SPOTS (these are places where car windows are smashed and anything are grabbed from the vehicle). Isaiah 59 describes conditions in our nation: "For our transgressions before you are many, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and as for our iniquities, we acknowledge them: 13 they’ve rebelled in treachery against the LORD, and are turning away from following our God; and they've spoken oppression and revolt, and are conceiving lying words from the heart. 14 I’ll drive back justice, and righteousness stands at a distance; for truth has fallen in the public square, and honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is missing, and whoever turns away from evil becomes a prey." (12-15).
The wilderness South Africa is experiencing should be seen by God’s people as an opportunity to prepare for God’s glory which will fill not just South Africa but the entire world. Here below is suggestion individuals can do as part of their preparations to have the gates of South Africa open for the King of Glory to enter:
- Every valley will be lifted up: Valleys are low grounds and to lift a valley means to fill it with soil until it is level like a road which is easy to travel on. God’s people at this time have a great opportunity to search the Bible for correct interpretation and for personal transformation. The Word of God is likened unto a mirror and it is the only mirror that will give you an accurate description of your appearing before you display yourself to the world. I believe that before we condemn conditions in our nation every child of God should take a look at him/herself in God’s mirror and make attempts to bring correction to anything and everything that is out of order which is reflected by the mirror.
- Mountain and hill will be lowered: Mountain and hill generally speaks of difficulty. Those things that make it difficult for us to walk faithfully before God should now be severed. Paul puts it this way: Therefore, having so vast a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, and throwing off everything that hinders us and especially the sin that so easily entangles us, let us keep running with endurance the race set before us (Heb:12:1).
- Rough ground will become level, and the mountain ridges made a plain: Rough ground is ground that is not conducive in its current state to receive seed for a harvest and mountain ridges are that part of the mountain that makes the mountain unreachable or untouchable. Jesus gives a parable of the sower who went out to sow seed on different grounds. He then explains that the different grounds on which the seed fell represents different types of hearts. A proud heart or a hardened heart is an obstacle that prevents God’s glory of being poured out on such an individual. Pride is a visible factor in our nation. Pride in many cases leads to an unrepentant heart; unforgiveness, disunity and a critical spirit which results in a dullness to hear the voice of the Lord. The situation in our country necessitates a heart that is conducive to hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying. The Word of the Lord says that God gives grace to the humble, but the proud He sees afar off. Prayer and fasting are signs of humility and it is these two acts that must rise in the midst of God’s people at a time such as this if we want to see the glory of God coming down on our nation.
For Moses to see the glory of God meant he had to hide in a cleft and wait for God to pass by. For Abraham to have an experience with God that assured him of an inheritance he had to bring a sacrifice to God and guard over it until God appeared to him. I believe for South Africa to see God’s glory means examining ourselves, repenting from our wrongs, walking humbly before men and God and an increase in prayer and fasting for the nation.
Written by Past. Terence Europa