An ancient voice keeps calling out, “In the wilderness, prepare the way of Adonai; make straight in the desert a highway to our God” (Isaiah 40:3). The prophetic call to be God’s trail blazers has been passed down through the generations—from Elijah (see 1Kings 18:36-37), to Isaiah, to John the Immerser/“Baptist” (see Matthew 11:10-14)—and it will continually resound until the Day the Master Yeshua triumphantly returns (see Malachi 4:5-6). Yet for today, “the way of Adonai” goes woefully unprepared. In our generation, we have misunderstood the instruction and wandered far from the path of our prophetic purpose. We have wrongly imagined “prepare the way” as a call to build, when it is, in fact, just the opposite.
In our fervent and well-intentioned efforts to expand the Reign of our King, we repeatedly give of our time and resources to the construction of buildings, programs, events, movements, institutions and more, in the hope that they will carry the wayward multitudes back to God. And we suppose that the more appealing we can make our creations, the more accessible and relevant our custom-made Salvation Highway will become. But according to the Scriptures, preparing the way for God does not require us to construct anything at all. On the contrary, speaking to the people of God—who had fervently turned to idolatry—the prophet proclaimed, “And it will be said, ‘Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstacle out of the way of my people’” (Isaiah 57:14, cf. 57:12-13).
Come with me for a moment, and envision this new “way”: At first, it doesn’t look like a pathway at all. At our feet are all the things we’ve worshipped—our idols—the things we’ve placed our trust in and allowed to come before God in our lives. They are stored up everywhere in every direction, and we have no place to go. And where there aren’t mounds of misplaced trust and false, useless religiosity, there are pits—deep pits—where one false step could mean our endless entrapment, or possibly even our death. But then, we hear the voice crying, “Prepare the way!” and suddenly, we find ourselves bulldozing those heaps of refuse and filth—we’re pushing them into the pits to fill them up, and we’re piling them off in huge embankments (“build up!”) to the side. The next thing we know, we’re looking up and seeing a path before us. The way is clear, lined with the things that used to keep us in bondage… the things we used to trust and love.
“Prepare the way,” then, is not a call to construct, but to deconstruct. It is a call not to assemble, but to demolish. It is not a call to build a road, but to clear a path, so that nothing will stand between us and our God.
The Master is calling us today not only to pile up our idols of sin and the ways of the flesh, but to heap our affections for and preconceptions about religion and religiosity off to the side of the road. We need to take His simple, clear and perfect Word at face value, and not allow the Scriptures’ plain teachings to become shrouded by contentious debates, creative strategies, or man-made traditions. It is time to shove everything aside that obstructs us from the pure Word of God, so that we may have a smooth, level, and trustworthy path to walk in the way of our Master.
In the face of our own idolatrous ways, this is the prophetic purpose to which we are called: to “remove every obstacle” that keeps us from a clear path to our Master, and to be the steadfast voice that keeps crying out, “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:9, cf. Isaiah 62:11).
This “Word from Kevin” was previously published in Messianic Jewish Issues.