Section 3: The Light Dawns
Imagine it is your job to make a brand-new road for your town’s annual Christmas parade. All the cars and floats and bands moving slowly down the main street, with Christmas songs playing and everyone trying to stay warm. But this year, some dignitary was coming to join the parade. How would you prepare the parade route?
Before you answer, you need to know about a couple of problems. First, there’s a mountain in your way—right where the road should be. So some workers will need to flatten the high and low spots and others to straighten the curves. You’ll need to work until everything is nice and smooth and flat and straight—perfect for a parade. Second, like many Christmas parades, this one’s at night. In the darkness, the strings of multi-colored lights add festivity to the atmosphere and attract crowds from miles around. But those lights aren’t enough for gathered crowds to really see the decorated floats and navigate the sidewalks safely. You’ll have to make sure everyone can see. To do these things, you’ll have to lead the workers. You’ll need a foreman to give instructions, to work to make sure everything is ready.
This is what Isaiah 40:3–5 prophesied was going to happen before the birth of the Messiah. God fulfilled this promise and sent a man named John the Baptist to prepare the route for the King’s arrival, to give the needed instructions to the people. Except John wasn’t telling God’s people to straighten out the curves in a road, but to straighten up their hearts.
God also sent John the Baptist to shine the light on the true Light. Although Jesus had existed before His birth (John 1:15), when He arrived for His earthly ministry, John was already there, ready to point people to Him, to shine his light on the One who had come to rescue His people.
But how do you shine a spotlight on the sun? You don’t, after it has risen. But lesser lights are useful before its rising. And so God had sent many lights into the darkness of this broken world—His Word and the prophets, messengers like John (vv.6–8). But when the ultimate Light came, He would blaze forth and fill the horizon with the glory of the Lord (Isaiah 40:5).
When the true Light would come into the darkness of humanity, God would parade the brilliance of His glory and mercy as never before. And many, but not all, who saw would join this bright procession. And in the light of His rising, He would lead them in the way of peace (Luke 1:79).