Making a Way for the King

Robert Wurtz II


A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 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. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5). 


Whenever and wherever the LORD comes, the path must be made straight. When He appears, just as when the Temple was dedicated, His glory is revealed. In other words, men no longer fear continually falling short of the glory of God–for He works in them to will and do His good pleasure. Yet we have a glaring failure among multitudes who neglect to prepare the way for God to enter their life. When God breaks into human existence, He must travel “the way of the Lord” and that path is a straight and smooth one. Figuratively, the obstacles must be removed, the crooked made straight, every mountain made low, and the uneven ground leveled out (see Luke 3:5). This is a way of describing the process that God works out in a person as they respond to His word in the power of the Holy Spirit prior to receiving the Spirit.  



A Straight Path into You


If God is going to enter a person they have to prepare themselves. This preparation is a common theme in scripture as we read in Isaiah 40:3 above. It continues to be a theme even in regards to the second advent where we learn, “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes” (Luke 12:47). A group of Puritans revived this theme of “preparation” in the American Colonies, but it was short-lived and fell on hard times. It’s a vital doctrine but one that is exceedingly unpopular. 


God requires a straight path. Isaiah 40:3-5 is referenced concerning John the Baptist’s ministry who had been sent by God, full of the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, the second greatest man who ever lived, to make “straight” the way of the king of Kings. The Greek word for straight as used in Isaiah 40:3 (LXX), Matt. 3:3, Mark 1:3,  and Luke 3:4 is euthus. The cognate word euthuno is used in John 1:23. 


To understand euthus we have to look at how it’s used in the Acts. In Acts 8 Simon the Sorcerer tried to “fly under the radar” and enter the church. After asking to buy the power to administer the Holy Spirit by laying on of hands, Peter diagnosed his problem, “You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:21). The Greek word here for “right” is euthus (straight). In other words, he went through the process of salvation without first repenting in the “John the Baptist” sense of the word. He was in the bond of iniquity and perishing, but wanted the Holy Spirit. Amazing. 


When John the Baptist made the path straight, the people repented and kept on confessing their sins as he baptized them (Matt 3:6f). He gave them instructions that they should bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. This is hard evidence. Some were to give away possessions, and others were to stop mistreating people. In other words, there were positive and negative (do this or stop doing that) instructions depending on if “the mountain needed to be brought low or the valley filled in.” The Jews codified the OT law into 365 negatives (don’t) and 248 positives (do) commands. So the Jews understood this principle of making low and leveling up. 


When Saul (Paul) met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was sent to a road that was called “straight” (Acts 9:11). This is the same Greek word euthus. Saul was in the throws of a total mind change (metanoia repentance). He was in the process of preparing himself to receive the Holy Spirit by lining up parallel (if you will) with what God has said about Jesus Christ and everything else. All his life he had resisted the Spirit so he needed this process to turn things around. No person can receive and resist at the same time. Saul (Paul) fasted food and water for three days. This fast was according to Isaiah 58:5-9. It utterly afflicted him and broke him down before God. When it was over, he called on the name of the Lord, received the Holy Spirit, and was a new man in Christ. 


Receiving the Spirit Without a Fuss


Paul’s receiving of the Holy Spirit was so utterly without a struggle that the scripture implies merely that it happened. There was no fuss or failure. No seeking the Lord for months. He prepared himself, got the path of God straight INTO him, and he received the Spirit. So this is the crucial thing, “preparing a straight path.” Repenting of all known sin, humbling ourselves utterly before God, and stopping resisting the Holy Spirit when He deals with us. Saul became Paul and applied this EXACT pattern everywhere he preached (see Acts 26:17-21).


After Paul’s conversion and transformation, he preached Jesus and repentance boldly. Our first record is regarding his confrontation with a sorcerer named Bar-Jesus (Elymas) who tried to turn Sergius Paulus out of the faith. Paul confronted him saying, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10) That is a straight statement that would get a Christian rebuked by his peers in the 21st century. However, notice what was happening. A straight path was being made INTO Sergius Paulus, and Elymas was trying to impede it. This is frequently the strategy of the enemy. He will often use a false teacher to twist the straight path made into a person. He typically does it by saying that “all this repentance stuff is not necessary.” Or “Don’t you think you are taking this ‘Christianity’ thing too far?”


God give us men like John the Baptist and Paul who understood the necessity of preparing the way of the Lord and making His paths straight. This was the basic message of two of the greatest men of God who ever lived. Yet multitudes of ministers overlook this fact. Perhaps it’s because the people who preach in this way typically lose their head for it? We know John the Baptist was beheaded according to Matt. 14:11. Tertullian in his Prescription Against Heretics (200 AD) records that Paul was likewise beheaded. Long before Paul’s martyrdom, he revealed to us that when he preached “John the Baptist style” repentance that, “For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me” (Acts 26:21 NKJV). Is this the price for preaching what Paul preached? If it is may God grace us with the Spirit that we might be that kind of voice.  


A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 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. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5). 

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