Prepare the Way of the Lord

Updated: May 12, 2021

Mark 1:3 - “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”.

Here Mark is quoting from Isaiah 40:3 - “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God”.

Have you ever stopped to consider the importance of punctuation marks? If I wrote the statement, 'Let's stop to eat, Grandma!', then it would be understood that I was telling Grandma that we needed to stop and eat. However, if I wrote the statement, 'Let's stop to eat Grandma!', then it would mean that I wanted to stop and eat and Grandma was to be “what's for dinner”.

Likewise, in the Bible punctuation marks are oftentimes placed in the wrong places because they were not in the original Hebrew manuscripts but were added later. Even the Greek manuscripts were not punctuated like our English.

According to the Masoretic text, copied and edited by Jews, and the Hebrew language grammar layout, the above verses should read:

Mark 1:3 - “The voice of one crying, in the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” and

Isaiah 40:3 - “ The voice of him that crieth, in the wilderness prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

In fact, the Complete Jewish Bible has these scriptures punctuated in this manner.

When we change the commas we actually change the whole meaning of the verses. John and the Prophet Isaiah were not calling out in the wilderness for someone to make the paths straight, they were calling out for people to make a path for Yahweh in the wilderness, to prepare for Him a highway in the wilderness. Total difference! We are to prepare, in the wilderness, a place for the King to pass through.

Clarke commentary gives us a great understanding for this analogy:

“The idea is taken from the practice of eastern monarchs, who, whenever they entered upon an expedition or took a journey, especially through desert and unpractised countries, sent harbingers before them to prepare all things for their passage, and pioneers to open the passes, to level the ways, and to remove all impediments”. He goes on to say, “The writer of the apocryphal book called Baruch expresses the same subject by the same images, either taking them from this place of Isaiah, or from the common notions of his countrymen: “For God hath appointed that every high hill, and banks of long continuance, should be cast down, and valleys filled up, to make even the ground, that Israel may go safely in the glory of God.” Baruch 5:7.

As the harbinger (a person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another) of Messiah at His first coming, John the Baptist was proclaiming with a loud voice, calling out to those who would come, to level and prepare the roads, in the desert, by which the Messiah was about to march. You see, the first century congregation or church was dry and in a desert, spiritually. John was calling out to them to prepare for Messiah's coming. The first step is still the same step in making the paths straight for the coming of Messiah - repentance.

Repentance always comes first. After that, discipleship is necessary. This making a path for Him in the wilderness, preparing a highway for Yshua and His people to pass behind Him, is not about a physical wilderness preparation but a spiritual preparation.

Isaiah 43:19 - “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” In this scripture Yahweh is promising that He will make a way back for His people from the Babylonian captivity. Again, the making a way in the wilderness analogy is used.

There are three questions that I would like for you to consider about the wilderness: Who calls individuals into the wilderness, why are they called into the wilderness and how do they exit the wilderness?

I would like to use three examples to answer these questions. First, the example of the children of Israel in the wilderness, John the Baptist calling people out to the wilderness, and Y'shua (Jesus) when He was in the wilderness and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.

Who calls individuals into the wilderness?

No one comes into the wilderness unless they are called by Yahweh. No one enters the wilderness unless they have already been delivered or set forth by Him. The wilderness is not intended for unbelievers who have not been called out or delivered. If you feel that you are in the wilderness then you were called there by Yahweh. Yahweh spoke by the prophets of old that it would be in the wilderness that He would gather His children and speak to them.

The Children of Israel were called into the wilderness by God after He delivered them out of Egypt. (Book of Exodus) A journey that should have taken only a very short time ended up taking 40 years, but He called them to that wilderness for a reason. The people that went out to hear John did not go out by accident. They were called by God to go out and hear this crazy wild man preaching repentance in the desert. True enough some of them might have went out because they were curious, but they would not have repented, the ones called into the wilderness by God would have repented at the message of John. We also have the example of Y'shua in Matthew 4:1. The Bible records that He was "led" into the wilderness "by the Spirit" of God. This is at the beginning of His ministry.

When Yahweh calls us into the wilderness, He wants us to learn at least 4 things about Him. These 4 things can be seen when looking at the example of the children of Israel and their wilderness journey. I have called these four things the 4 "P's" of the wilderness journey.

The first one is His promise of Divine Presence. In the wilderness He was a cloud by day and a fire by night. Yahweh wants us to trust His guidance, He wants to direct our paths. Many times we come to a crossroads in our life. We must learn to let Him give direction to our path.

The second one is His promise of Divine Protection. He is our Yahweh Nissi (banner or emblem). In Exodus 17:8-16 (key verse 15) we read where the Israelites were fighting against the Amalekites. As long as Moses kept his hands raised, Israel would win in the battle. We find that he had help keeping his hands up by Hur and Aaron. Moses tells us in these verses that Yahweh is our banner (Nissi).

In America, we have the Star Spangled Banner as our National Anthem. One stanza says, "and the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” When nations are fighting, the side that is winning has their flag waving overhead. However, when they are defeated their flag is brought down.