The wilderness becomes a garden of the Lord
‘The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.’ Isaiah 40:3–4
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Psalm 105:1–45
When the eastern monarchs travelled, harbingers [forerunners] went before to give notice that the king was upon the road, and proper persons likewise to prepare the way and to remove obstacles. Some of them, if we may depend upon history, in the affectation of displaying their pomp and power, effected extraordinary things upon such occasions. For man, though vain, would appear wise; though a mere worm he would fain be great. We read of their having actually filled up valleys, and levelled hills to make a commodious way for themselves or their armies through places otherwise impassable. The prophet thus illustrates great things by small, and accommodates the language and usages of men to divine truth. The Messiah is about to visit a wilderness world, and those parts of it which he blesses with his presence shall become the garden of the Lord. Till then it is all desolate—rocky, wild and barren. But his way shall be prepared, mountainous difficulties shall sink before him into plains, in defiance of hindrances and difficulties; his glory shall be revealed in the wilderness and all flesh shall see it, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.
FOR MEDITATION: They say the times are very dark: they seem so to us; clouds and darkness are about his throne, but light will in due time shine out. He is carrying on his work by a straight line. If you or I were engaged in a plan which we had much at heart, we would not suffer anything to hinder our purpose, if we could prevent it: much less he, who has all power in heaven and earth.… The times are dark; but perhaps they were darker in England sixty years ago. Some of those places were as a wilderness in my remembrance, and now they are gardens of the Lord. I am not sure that in the year 1740 there was a single parochial minister, who was publicly known as a gospel preacher, in the whole kingdom: now we have, I know not how many, but I think no fewer than four hundred.
John Newton to John Campbell, 18 July 1795
SERMON SERIES: MESSIAH, NO. 2 [2/4], ISAIAH 40:3–5