Read Luke 3:2-9
Over the past few years, I’ve attempted to play fantasy football. In doing so, I’ve learned an interesting thing about fantasy sports: you’re always at the mercy of real players and their real performance. You can attempt to predict how well a player will perform and decide who will start and who won’t, but after you select which players to include for a given week, it’s out of your hands.
The promises God made through prophets are a bit like playing fantasy football. We can try to understand what God’s up to, but we’re ultimately at the mercy of his actions. Our hope for success in life rises or falls depending on how much we trust God to perform as he said he would.
Now, fast forward from Isaiah’s prophecy to the time of John the Baptist. The people of Israel felt they were in a valley, looking for God to show up as he said he would. They had heard the ancient stories where God seemed actively involved in the lives of his people, and they were looking forward to the day when God would free them from the tyranny of other nations. When Luke references the prophecy of Isaiah 40, he’s pointing to this promise. God was the one who would make the mountains low and straighten the crooked places (Isaiah 40:4).
The only problem with John’s message is that he seems to change the rules of the game, pointing them to a new kind of fulfillment. The people wanted God to flatten the mountains of political tyranny, but instead, God flattens mountains of meaninglessness and confusion. He makes straight the road to a life consistent with His heart. The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prediction wasn’t just about a nation descended from Abraham. It wasn’t just about freedom from current political oppression or societal suffering. It was about the people of God bearing good fruit in every way, for all nations and all generations to see.
Reflection and Response
Christmastime can often magnify the valleys we feel – the areas where we feel lonely, discouraged, or absent of meaning. Use this time to consider those who are hurting this Christmas season and intercede on behalf. Today, reach out to one of those people with a phone call, text message, or brief visit.
By Aaron Bjorklund