Isaiah was called to prepare the way of God into the history of Israel. The Jews had become lost and in their fear and anger had wandered from the Lord. They would be led away to distant lands. The promise of God for peace and prosperity had perished from their presence.
Isaiah spoke to them in wonderful images to regenerate hope. The light of the Lord would shine from Zion bringing back the wandering Jews and all peoples from the ends of the earth.
Isaiah spoke of the situation of darkness, division, despair and death that had enslaved the people, the day of the Lord would dawn. There would be no more enmity, hurt or destruction. The lame would walk, the deaf would hear, the blind would see, mute tongues would sing and the poor would have good news proclaimed to them. The desert would come to life. A garden would sprout and an orchard would bear many fruits.
Isaiah saw one anointed by God leading the people to God. This one would be of the shoot of Jesse and would be gifted in the Holy Spirit (ch 11). He would have the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight would be the fear of the Lord. – How many of us have put these gifts on our Christmas lists. He would sit on the chair of David. He was the son of David.
Then there would be a great banquet a wonderful feast on the peak of God’s mountain, Zion. All people would share in rich food, well-aged wines and succulent meats. God would destroy the shroud over all. Death would be abolished and God would dry all tears.
I have summarized the first thirty-nine chapters of Isaiah. Isaiah reiterates the promises first given to their ancestors. He gives them hope. In His book Isaiah begins talking to the Israelites as they begin their return from exile. These words also invite you to prepare for your coming to Jesus in the wonderful Christmas feasts.
(Ch 40) Isaiah prophesized the presence of God as the Israelites began their journey home to the Promised Land. “Comfort, O comfort my people,” the Lord said and Handel put to music. They are prepared for the arduous passage into freedom. A voice says, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his path.” We hear this sung by John the Baptist in the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar.” The way is opened as the road is built. The Jews again pass through a desert to find the Land of Milk and Honey.
Jacob the worm and Israel the insect prepare for the journey. The Holy One of God will lead them and they prepare a way for Him to come to them.
In this day and age we can hear John the Baptist sing out to us to prepare the way. It was John who prepared the way for Jesus to come and to begin His ministry. He calls to us to come, to come to the feast in order to celebrate Jesus the Christ who has made it possible for us to have received all the promises of God.
Prepare, prepare for the fullness of life.
Father Lawrence Heiney is minister at Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church in Mount Airy.