The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.…
We shall find, with very little seeking, a threefold application for these words:
(1) a primary one in the restoration of the Jews to Jerusalem;
(2) an historical and human one in the advent of our Lord and the founding of his kingdom;
(3) a future one in the restoration of the race to the likeness and the favour of God. The keystone of the passage we find in the fifth verse; it is the idea of the manifestation of God's glory, which all mankind is to witness. We have, then -
I. THE MANIFESTED GLORY OF GOD. This was to be displayed and has been shown in two illustrations which are now historical.
1. The faithfulness and the power of Jehovah in the accomplishment of his people's redemption from exile.
2. A more striking instance of Divine faithfulness, wisdom, and power, in the giving of the gospel of his grace, in preparing the nations of the earth for its reception, in its actual initiation and inauguration, and in its early and widespread diffusion among men.
II. THE GLORY WHICH WAITS TO RE REVEALED. Christ has come, and we celebrate his advent with joy and gratitude. But it is also and equally true that he is coming. He is still "the Coming One." Across the arid wastes of indifference, and over mountains of opposition and gulfs of apparent impossibility, he is coming, and in time we shall see him - the present, reigning, triumphant Lord. It is a glorious spiritual advance he is to make, and presence he is to confer, and power he is to exert; but it will be none the less glorious or gracious for its spirituality. That, indeed, will immeasurably enhance its worth, for it will be the grander, the truer, the more lasting achievement.
III. THE STRENGTH OF OUR ASSURANCE CONCERNING IT. "All flesh shall see it: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." There may be many indications that Jesus Christ will one day secure a glorious victory over the disbelief, the vice, the superstition, the selfishness, the indifference of the world; but the strongest assurance we can take to our striving, yearning, sometimes wondering and doubting hearts is that "the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it:" "I, if I be lifted up," etc.
IV. OUR CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS ITS COMING. "Prepare ye the way," etc.; "make straight a highway," etc. The Christian Church has to ask itself the urgent, practical question, what it can do to quicken the coming of its Lord in his redeeming and regenerating power. And it may find its answer here.
1. Fill up the gulfs of unbelief; let not lack of faith on the part of Christian men hinder the putting forth of Divine power (Matthew 13:58).
2. Remove the hills of inconsistency; let not profession and exhortation be neutralized by immoralities in life, by wide departures from the will and Word of God.
3. Take up the stones of blemish; make a patient effort to cast aside lesser evils which, if not serious obstacles, do yet trouble and impede.
4. Lay down a highway by prayer and zeal. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.