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.
This passage defines the ministry of John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord. He was to declare that when the Messiah came, his ministry would not only be one of reconciliation, but also one of reconstruction. He declared there would be a highway, built in the heart, on which God would travel. Four steps would be involved in the building process: Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. Construction engineers know that this is exactly how highways are built even today.
In this beautiful symbolic language the prophet is saying that this is what God undertakes when he comes into our lives. When we have received his forgiveness, the next step is that he begins to change us, to reconstruct our lives. Every valley shall be raised up. In the low places of life, the discouraging times, times when you feel crushed and defeated, there will be comfort and encouragement from the Lord. Also, Every mountain and hill made low. All those places where our ego manifests itself — our proud boasts, our grasping for power — these must be cut down. We find ourselves humbled in many ways. Then, the rugged places (made) a plain. In the gospels we read that Zacchaeus paid back fourfold all the money he had stolen from people. Our deviousness will be corrected. We will steal no more; we will report our income properly.
Ah, but it is more than that, as we see in Verses 6-8. It is a word of reassurance as well. What is man? All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. All the great things we boast about will fade away and disappear. All man’s knowledge and power will amount to nothing. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them … but the word of our God endures forever. What a comfort that ought to be to us. Our natural strength will never accomplish what we want; human help will fail us. But the word of our God endures forever.
Lord, I see that you are at work in my life, raising up valleys, lowering mountains, and making the rugged places plain. Grant that I might stay pliable in your hands as you shape me into the person you want me to be.
The choice for life’s adventure is my way or God’s highway. Whether valley, mountain, rough ground, etc., are we thankfully leaving the re-construction to the Chief Engineer?