For the week of August 16, 2008 / 15 Av 5768
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11
Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1-26
A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 40:3-5)
Isaiah paints a vivid picture of a lone voice in the midst of hostile uncharted territory crying out: "Prepare the way of the Lord". God, having been absent from his people for a long time, is coming back to be among his people again. The ancient paths have become rough and overgrown. But get ready! Smooth out the terrain! Level the mountains! Raise the valleys! Build the passage way! God is coming! The glory of God will be seen by all. Who God is, his character and his power, will be displayed for everyone to see. But first, prepare! Do what it takes to remove the obstacles to his coming. It'll be hard work, but it's worth it! "Prepare the way of the Lord!"
Isaiah spoke these words well over 2600 years ago. Much has gone on since then. You may not be aware that these words have been essentially fulfilled. Another prophet arose about 600 years after Isaiah. His job was to prepare the way for God to return to his people. God was to be revealed in a way never before seen: the sick healed, the blind seeing, the dead rising, the afflicted and oppressed filled with joy and gladness, ungodly religious and political structures confronted - the Messiah had come, God returning to his people.
Since then the Messiah's work has continued. As in the days he walked the earth, even though it has not worked out as expected, the glory of God has been revealed throughout the world. Maybe you haven't seen it, but that's another story. There's something else I want to address.
We are two thousand years since the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah's words were fulfilled by Yeshua. Yet it seems to me that his presence has become obscured. The level paths have become unusable again. Did we not realize that the highway through the wilderness upon which God travels, needs to be maintained?
In fact those entrusted with maintaining God's highway have focused on other roads. Instead of investing in the infrastructure of God, we have been spending our energies on the values of the surrounding culture: self, success, money, pleasure, and so on. Dressing up the world's ways with spiritual talk and God's name doesn't make them anything but what they really are: distractions, emptiness, and sin.
If we stopped to take a look at the actual state of things, we would see that we are in the wilderness again. Unless we take the time to do the hard work of clearing the way again, we will miss out on the power and presence of God.
I am aware that there is much fuss being made about "what God is doing today." While it is not my place to determine the validity of various claims of marvelous happenings, I ask only that whatever may be happening be compared with the Bible rather than with people's opinions.
How do we prepare the highway for God? By practicing truth, holiness, godliness, righteousness, and honesty. All these must be rooted in faith in the Messiah, but a faith that is not expressed in these things is illegitimate. Prepare the way of the Lord!
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