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Isaiah 40:3-4 – Prepare the Way of the Lord

17 May on Logos VOD Commentary, Old Testament   Tags: , , , ,


When I read this passage, the 1st thing that comes to mind is John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus just before he baptizes him (Matt 3:1-3). I also think about how we as Christians today are here to prepare the way for Christ’s return by fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt 24:14 & Matthew 28:16-20). The dessert represents a parched land full of lost souls and a highway represents a smooth plain leading straight to salvation. In verse 4 I see the power or God being able to raise valley’s and move mountains; which could represent obstacles that need to be removed during the preparation of the Highway of the Lord. Or it can represent God’s ultimate power being fulfilled during the end times and Christ’s return. I like verses like this, that can have multiple meanings. Let’s see what others have to say about this passage…


Henry Morris Apologetics Study Bible

3. Voice of him. This prophecy was fulfilled 700 years later when John the Baptist came to “prepare the way” for Christ (Matt 3:1-3).

4. Rough places plain. A remarkable change in the very shape of the earth’s surface will take place during the tribulation, preparing the earth for the glorious kingdom age. The terrible earthquakes (among other geophysical catastrophes that are coming) will destroy the great mountain masses of the world (Rev 16:20) and fill up the ocean deeps, smoothing out the topography so that the earth’s lands will be pleasantly inhabitable, as in the beginning.

1599 Geneva Bible Patriot’s Edition Commentary

3. To wit f the prophets. That is, in Babylon and other places, where they were kept in captivity, and misery. Meaning Cyrus and Darius which should deliver God’s people out of captivity, and make them a ready way to Jerusalem: and this is accomplished, when John the Baptist brought tidings of Jesus Christ’s coming, who was the true deliverer of his Church from sin and Satan, Matt 3:3.

4. Whatsoever may let or hinder this deliverance, shall be removed.

Archaeological Study Bible Notes

“Preparing the way” was idiomatic for clearing away obstacles from the road (Isa 57:14, Isa 62:10). It was customary in the ancient Near East to dispatch representatives ahead in preparation for a king’s visit.

ESV Study Bible Notes

3. A barren landscape, which God’s people had become (Isaiah 64:10), is where he comes to them with refreshment (Isa 32:14-16; Isa 35:1-10; Isa 41:17-20; Isa 43:19-21; Isa 51:3). John the Baptist found here his own calling to his generation, implying promise of these chapters had yet fully come to pass (Matt 3:1-6 par; John 1:23).

4. These are metaphors – based on the rough terrain as one approaches Jerusalem from the east – for personal repentance and social reformation, remaking the world as a place fit for a coming King.

Constable’s Notes (Net.Bible.org)

40:3-4 Isaiah announced that someone was calling out to prepare a highway in the desert because the Lord was coming to His people’s aid (cf. Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23; 3:30). It was customary to construct processional avenues for approaching dignitaries and for idols carried in parade. The wilderness and desert represent the barren waste of Babylon where God’s people dwelt, complete with obstacles and impediments to overcome, and through which He would come to them with refreshment, as He did formerly at Mount Sinai. The idea is that He was certainly coming and His people should prepare for His appearing.

HCSB Study Bible Notes

A herald rallied his hearers to prepare a road that would make quick and easy access for God to return to the promised land in order to restore His people. The wilderness was difficult to cross because it had deep wadis and high mountains, but in preparation for the return this rough terrain would become like a plain, easy to travel. The fulfillment most immediately in view is the return of Jewish people after the end of the exile, but the ultimate fulfillment of these verses is in the work of Jesus Christ as signaled by the quotation of verse 3 along with Mal 3:1 in Mk 1:2-3 and the identification of the voice as that of John the Baptist.

Matthew Henry Bible Commentary

The time to favour Zion, yea, the set time, having come, the people of God must be prepared, by repentance and faith, for the favours designed them; and, in order to call them to both these, we have here the voice of one crying in the wilderness, which may be applied to those prophets who were with the captives in their wilderness-state, and who, when they saw the day of their deliverance dawn, called earnestly upon them to prepare for it, and assured them that all the difficulties which stood in the way of their deliverance should be got over. It is a good sign that mercy is preparing for us if we find God’s grace preparing us for it, Ps. 10:17. But it must be applied to John the Baptist; for, though God was the speaker, he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, and his business was to prepare the way of the Lord, to dispose men’s minds for the reception and entertainment of the gospel of Christ. The way of the Lord is prepared,

I. By repentance for sin; that was it which John Baptist preached to all Judah and Jerusalem (Mt. 3:2, 5), and thereby made ready a people prepared for the Lord, Lu. 1:17.

1. The alarm is given; let all take notice of it at their peril; God is coming in a way of mercy, and we must prepare for him, v. 3-5. If we apply it to their captivity, it may be taken as a promise that, whatever difficulties lie in their way, when they return they shall be removed. This voice in the wilderness (divine power going along with it) sets pioneers on work to level the roads. But it may be taken as a call to duty, and it is the same duty that we are called to, in preparation for Christ’s entrance into our souls. (1.) We must get into such a frame of spirit as will dispose us to receive Christ and his gospel: “Prepare you the way of the Lord; prepare yourselves for him, and let all that be suppressed which would be an obstruction to his entrance. Make room for Christ: Make straight a highway for him.” If he prepare the end for us, we ought surely to prepare the way for him. Prepare for the Saviour; lift up your heads, O you gates! Ps. 24:7, 9. Prepare for the salvation, the great salvation, and other minor deliverances.  Let us get to be fit for them, and then God will work them out. Let us not stand in our own light, nor put a bar in our own door, but find, or make, a highway for him, even in that which was desert ground. This is that for which he waits to be gracious. (2.) We must get our hearts levelled by divine grace. Those that are hindered from comfort in Christ by their dejections and despondencies are the valleys that must be exalted. Those that are hindered from comfort in Christ by a proud conceit of their own merit and worth are the mountains and hills that must be made low. Those that have entertained prejudices against the word and ways of God, that are untractable, and disposed to thwart and contradict even that which is plain and easy because it agrees not with their corrupt inclinations and secular interests, are the crooked that must be made straight and the rough places that must be made plain. Let but the gospel of Christ have a fair hearing, and it cannot fail of acceptance. This prepares the way of the Lord; and thus God will by his grace prepare his own way in all the vessels of mercy, whose hearts he opens as he did Lydia’s.