The important connection between building highways and depression – Advent 2022, Week 4, Part 2

Editor’s Note: This post is written by guest blogger, David Hundert. David is a current Master of Divinity student at Evangelical Seminary.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the meaning of Advent is connected to an ancient phrase from the Hebrew prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way for the Lord…” What was Isaiah talking about, and why is that phrase connected to John the Baptist in Matthew 3? Let’s take a look at the context of “prepare the way for the Lord.”

Isaiah 40:1-5 reads,
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 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. A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert 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 people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Since it was rare for the common person to read and study a written Bible back then, the people of Israel were really good at memorizing Scripture. The Word of the Lord was passed down orally from generation to generation, so when John made this reference, it would have been understood in it’s context. The kindness and tone starting in verse 1 speak of compassion normally expressed in those days to someone who is grieving over the death of a family member.

In addition, these are words spoken to “my people” by “your God.” Unmistakably, this is the language of the covenant. This is something they would understand. Also, keep in mind there were approximately 730 years between the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist’s ministry.

Isaiah long before had prophesied about someone who would make straight in the desert a highway for God. What would a highway through the desert look like back then? Are we talking 2 lanes or 4? Would there have been an express lane or a camel pool lane?

The Hebrew word that we translate as “highway,” is the Hebrew word pronounced, “mesillah” which means quite a few things. One dictionary defines it as a “track firmed with stones or fill; road, highway.” Another defines it as a main road, or “an open-country thoroughfare used much, that is relatively wide and maintained.” Maintenance of a road back then would have looked a lot different than it does today.

Also, consider what Isaiah and John were saying this road would be used for. They were saying that it would be a highway for our Lord. In verses 3 and 4, the one thing the people can do is to prepare the way for the coming King. This could be seen as a reflection of the kind of road building engaged in prior to the triumphal tour of a conquering king.

But in any case it speaks of an act of faith on the part of the people. They don’t yet see the King, but they dare to believe that he is coming. It also speaks of some kind of activity on the part of those who had formerly been seized by discouragement and hopelessness.

Do you know of anyone, especially at this time of year, that might be seized by discouragement and hopelessness? Do you know of someone that might need to have someone to dare to believe in?

Photo by Shane McLendon on Unsplash

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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