Preparing the Way of the Lord
Preparing the Way of the Lord
Making a Highway for our God
o Note how many times the Word of God references this event – ‘all the earth will be filled with the glory’ – .
Psalm 72:19 (ESV)
19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!
o The psalmist speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit restates what the Lord spoke in Numbers 14:21.
Isaiah 6:3 (ESV)
3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
o In Isaiah, we see an angel speaks in faith. Faith is the language of heaven. Faith calls things that be not as though they were (Rom. 4:17).
Habakkuk 2:14 (ESV)
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
o The prophet Habakkuk speaking of the glory
o …’as the waters cover the sea’ indicates saturation (have you ever stood on the beach and looked out at the ocean? – it is a lot of water!!!).
Isaiah 40:3–5 (ESV)
3 A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
o You may ask the question, ‘Why doesn’t God just go ahead and do it now – fill all the earth with the glory?’
o In verses 3-4, the prophet Isaiah is speaking of the 1st coming of Jesus.
o In verse 5 though, he is speaking of elements connected to the Second Coming.
o In either case, a highway has to be built – valleys need to be lifted, mountains and hills need to be adjusted, uneven ground needs to be leveled out, and rough places made plain.
o Stuff has to be straightened out before manifestation comes. This works on many many levels.
o Personal Level:
o You may have to straighten some things out – make some adjustments – before the manifestation to your prayers comes. One sure thing, if it’s taking a long long time to get an answer to prayer – adjustments may need to be made before the answer comes.
o If I give you directions on how to get to a certain city and it takes you 16 years to get there and you still haven’t arrived, at some point it should dawn on you that you are lost!!! – and that you are going to have to make some adjustments in order to get to your destination.
o You have to build a highway for the manifestation.
o Look at things that hinder answers to prayer like unforgiveness, unbelief etc. – all the same things that hinder the manifestation of the glory hinders the answer to prayer.
o Build a highway for the answer.
Looking at Hinderances
Look at things that hinder faith and clog up the highway
Mark 11:24–25 (ESV)
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
o These verses are in the Bible for a reason. You will come to a point in life where someone somewhere will do you wrong and you are going to have to forgive them.
Look at things that hinder prayer
o Things like how you treat your spouse
o This is about keeping your love walk in order – it starts at home.
1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Philippians 4:6–7 (ESV)
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
o You need to get things in Bible order. In order to have the peace of God which passes all understanding, you are going to have to first ‘be anxious for nothing.’
o To pray and then continue to worry is to waste your time.
The Transfiguration of Jesus
The role of prayer in establishing the highway
Matthew 17:1–5 (ESV)
1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Matthew 17:6–10 (ESV)
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. 9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?”
o Note the word ‘vision’ here meaning that this was one of the gifts of the Spirit in operation (discerning of Spirits).
In the following scriptures, note the presence of prayer in connection with the manifestations of God.
Luke 9:28–31 (ESV)
28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
o Luke’s version adds the prayer element. Many God encounters happen or manifestations of the Spirit occur when you are praying – especially praying in other tongues.
Luke 1:10–11 (ESV)
10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
Luke 3:21–22 (ESV)
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Acts 1:14 (ESV)
14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Acts 2:1–4 (ESV)
1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 4:31 (ESV)
31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Acts 8:14–17 (ESV)
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Acts 9:11, 17–18 (ESV)
11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying,
17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;
Acts 9:36, 37, 40 (ESV)
36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity.
37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.
40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.
Acts 10:30 (ESV)
30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing
31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.
Acts 10:9–12 (ESV)
9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.
Acts 12:5–7 (ESV)
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. 6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. 7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.
Acts 16:25–27 (ESV)
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.
Acts 22:17–18 (ESV)
17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’
Acts 28:8 (ESV)
8 It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him.
o Here is the point, people that pray have encounters with Jesus. People that pray have manifestations of the Spirit. People that pray are used by God to prepare the way of the Lord. People that pray are highway builders.
o Let’s look at the highway that was built for the first coming of Jesus.
Prayer and the Coming of Jesus
The role of prayer in establishing the Second Coming.
Luke 2:36–38 (ESV)
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
o Anna was a highway builder! She prayed night and day. She was in the right place at the right time to see the answer to her prayers.
Luke 2:25–32 (ESV)
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
o Simeon was a highway builder. You see manifestations of the Spirit in his life. Though prayer is not specifically mentioned in connection with him, yet it is not a stretch to see that he was a man of prayer based on all what we have seen so far. I think you can see the prayer connection in that the Holy Spirit was talking to him. You see that he was devout man meaning reverent, God fearing and pious. He was a man that flowed with God which only happens with people of prayer.
o Both Anna and Simeon were highway builders (they were representative of all the people who were praying at this time). They helped prepare the way of the Lord for the first coming of Jesus. What about the Second Coming of Jesus? The way must be prepared. God is looking for present day highway builders.
o Will you answer the call?
Here is the point, people that pray have encounters with Jesus.People that pray have manifestations of the Spirit. People that pray are used by God to prepare the way of the Lord. People that pray are highway builders.