“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare 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 brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’” (Isaiah 40: 3-5)
Scripture is clear about where the glory of the Lord shall be revealed: “Unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever;” (Eph 3:21) or as Jesus Himself puts it: “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17: 22-23)
However, the highway by which He chooses to come is by way of the desert. The world is becoming more like a desert on a daily basis, but it is precisely when the world is in a desert place that His glory will be revealed in the church, and “all flesh” will see it. Luke quotes Isaiah to declare four areas in which the Holy Spirit will “prepare the way” while this is happening and before the world sees the Glory of the Lord.
Every valley shall be exalted.
Luke renders this as “every valley shall be filled,” when he quotes the prophet in Luke 3:5. What are our valleys? When we lose sight of the place that we have been lifted to; whenever our souls are cast down; when the Victory of the cross is on the far side of the mountains – these are that the Lord is going to fill. A particular valley we read about in Scripture is the valley of Achor, where Achan and all his family were executed for keeping back some of the plunder from Jericho. It’s the place of judgement, condemnation and death. It’s where the accuser will always seek to bring us. However there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), so Isaiah 65:10 says:
“Sharon shall be a fold of flocks,
And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down,
For My people who have sought Me.”
And Hosea writes:
“I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.” (Hosea 2:15)
In Christ, the valley of condemnation becomes the place of peace, hope, and the joy of our salvation. If we bring our valleys to the Lord, He will “exalt” them as He lifts us again, and He will fill them with His presence as we praise Him for our deliverance from bondage.
Every mountain and hill shall be brought low
Just as the Holy Spirit can’t “prepare the way of the Lord” until He has dealt with our valleys, we also need Him to deal with our peaks – our mountains and hills.
Proverbs 29:23 tells us exactly what our peaks are: “A man’s pride will bring him low.” When Mary magnifies he Lord, she says
“He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.” (Luke 1 51-52)
These and many other scriptures make it clear that the Lord will deal with any areas where we seek to exalt ourselves before His glory will fill our lives. The flesh wants to promote itself, protect itself, control and be noticed; the Spirit seeks only to Glorify God, love and serve. Our example of course is Jesus, who “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:8) If the Glory of the Lord is going to come in, there can be no peaks in the way. They have to die with Jesus on the cross.
The crooked places shall be made straight
Jesus calls The Holy Spirit “The Spirit of Truth,” and He Himself is, of course, the Truth. When Jesus saw Nathaniel coming towards Him, He said: ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’ (John 1:47). Revelation 21:8 says categorically that “all liars” are destined for the lake of fire. Satan is the “Father of Lies,” the creator of crooked places. The Spirit of Truth will come and purge every tendency to conceal the truth. Where we have believed a lie, He will reveal it; and where we have let others believe a lie He will bring us to repentance. Wherever the father of lies has brought his distortions into our lives, the Holy Spirit will make those crooked places straight, so that we can all, like Nathaniel, be “Israelites indeed.”
And the rough places smooth
What are our “rough places?” Where are we abrasive? Are we gentle in our dealings with others? Are our relationships made smooth by the fruit of the Spirit being manifest in our lives, or do we have rough places here people are hurt or damaged if they bump into us? If Christ is going to fill our lives with the glory of God, these rough places need to be confessed and submitted to Him. If people have been hurt by them we need to repent and seek their forgiveness. We cannot be rough with one another and love one another at the same time.
The Glory of God will fill the Church when He has dealt with judgement and pride in our lives and has made us pure conduits of truth and love. When that happens “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:6)