Tuesday 08 December 2009

Bible Book:

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'" (v.3)

Isaiah 40:1-11 Tuesday 8 December 2009


It is rare for a verse in the Old Testament to be quoted in allfour New Testament Gospels, but verse 3 is one of them (Matthew 3:3,Mark 1:3, Luke3:4 and John1:23). Psalm22:18 is the only other one a quick check turned up forme. So this is quite special.

Clearly it was important for the Gospel writers to connect John theBaptist with this verse, yet at first glance, the connection is notobvious. This passage starts with a request for comfort and thenthree voices tell of the comfort to come:

  • Voice 1 (starts verse 3) points to the ancient Near Easterncustom of sending representatives ahead to prepare the way for amonarch to visit and with preparing a processional highway for theLord's coming to Jerusalem.
  • Voice 2 (starts verse 6) reminds the reader of the differencein constancy between people and God. It may be a reference topowers such as Assyria and Babylon fading away.
  • Voice 3 (starts verse 9) looks to the return from exile (theJewish people had been captives in Babylon since 586BC) with theLord coming to Jerusalem.

To connect verse 3 with John the Baptist there has to be achange of understanding. John came to prepare the way for Jesus notby sorting out the arrangements with the king, not by building aprocessional route, but by demanding a change of heart - repentancein order to receive forgiveness (Luke 3:3)and this to be shown in deeds (Luke3:7-14).

This season of Advent is a preparation for Christmas, whichwas once a preparation in the style of John the Baptist in lookingat our hearts and our lives to see if we are ready for Jesus toreturn. Maybe it has now become more of a sorting out of thearrangements for the feast when we celebrate the coming of theKing.


To Ponder

The three voices offer comfort by saying:
a) get ready because God is coming
b) God is consistent, unlike us
c) God is returning as shepherd.
In what ways do you think these might (or might not) bring comforttoday?

If John prepared people for the coming of Jesusquoting the above verse from Isaiah, then how should you preparepeople today for the coming of Jesus again?

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