And so we begin the New Testament. Well, kind of. It has been pointed out that the book of Isaiah itself is kind of a Reader’s Digest version of the whole Bible.
Like the Bible, it’s divided into 66 parts. Of those 66 parts, we can group them into two larger sections, one composing of 39 chapters, and the second of 27, just as there are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New. As with the Old Testament, we see a lot of the sin of the people and the judgment of God in the first 39 chapters of Isaiah. But starting with chapter 40, we see the coming of Messiah and his work of salvation. And finally in chapter 66, we see the final judgment and a new heavens and new earth.
And so here in the New Testament…that is, the start of the second section of Isaiah, we find the words that John the Baptist used to open his ministry.
A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness 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. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)
The call that Isaiah made, the call that John the Baptist made as well, rings true even today. In a world that is a spiritual desert, in hearts that are a wilderness devoid of God, we are called to prepare the way for the Lord. To prepare the way for the Lord in our own hearts, and in the world around us.
How do we do that? Basically, we need to remember two things. First,
All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. (6-7)
In other words, we need to remember that our lives are temporary. That this life on earth is not all there is. And whatever glory we achieve here on earth will not last. And so to prepare the way for God in our hearts, we need to get our priorities straight. To put him first in our lives, and not ourselves. To seek him and his kingdom first, not our own agendas.
Second, remember that,
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. (8)
To put it simply, remember that God always keeps his promises. His Word never changes. So make that the bedrock of your life. Our lives are always changing. Trials come and go. Good times come and go. But God never changes. And as we make his Word the foundation of our lives, it keeps our lives steady as we go through the winds of change. Not only that, but we’ll be able to withstand the storms of life as well.
How about you? Is your heart ready for the Lord’s return? When he comes again, will he tell you, “Well done, good and faithful servant?”
When he returns, may our Lord find us faithful.