Isaiah 40:1-8

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: “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. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:1-8

In the old days, when we were in the car, running late to get wherever we were going, it was almost inevitable that an argument would ensue.

“Why don’t you just stop and ask directions?”

“I don’t need to ask for directions, I know where I’m going. (unspoken thought….I just don’t know exactly how the road we are currently on will get us there but I am certainly not going to admit that to you!”)

And so it would go, back and forth, until you finally got where you were going or gave up and just went home in a huff.

Thus the old joke that the children of Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years because Moses refused to stop and ask for directions.

Today, we just plug the address into the GPS and follow the yellow brick road.

Here in Isaiah, the promise of the new freeway through the desert, valleys lifted up, and mountains brought low, is spoken as a word of comfort to Israel. It is speaking, of course, of the promise that the exiled community will be released from bondage and allowed to return home. We tend to forget that.

When these words come to us through the voice of John the Baptizer, we assume that God is going to make a way for us to get to some place new. But I think the promise remains what it is – that God will take us back home down a road that makes the low spots bearable and the high spots surmountable.

We will get there, not by feats of marvelous engineering, but by trusting the God Positioning Spirit that whispers directions and invites us to courageously follow.

Or, as T.S. Eliot put it:

“We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

Let us pray: Dear Lord, light the path before us, that we might walk as you lead the way, bringing us back to a place of freedom, justice, and the beloved community you would create among us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Isaiah 40:1-8”

  1. kirk921 Says:

    A Men

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