Preparing for Glory
by Bob Sorge
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; 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).
The passage describes how God prepares His people for Glory. He builds a highway in the hearts of His people by filling in the valleys, bringing down the high places, making the crooked places straight, and the rough places smooth. These are all operations of God upon the human heart, preparing us for His visitation. Let’s look at the first three phrases individually.
THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS
God took John into the wilderness to nurture his voice (his message). The principle remains true: You have to go to the wilderness to get a voice. Some who desire to gain a voice may go to theological seminary, but that’s not where you get a voice. Seminaries produce echoes (those who can echo the many voices from which they’ve gleaned). John the Baptist had to go to the wilderness to get his voice. To produce a voice requires the solitude and forsakenness of the wilderness.
God will be leading some of His servants into the wilderness in this hour to equip them with a voice for this generation. He will give them a message that will help the church prepare for Glory. They will be mouthpieces of God’s heart to His end time Bride.
It can sound a bit sensational-to be a voice with a message that prepares God’s people for Glory. But to garner that voice will require an unusual degree of consecration to God’s purposes as He takes you through the wilderness.
A wilderness is by definition a place where few people dwell, primarily because conditions are not conducive to the everyday lifestyles of most people. Thus, it is a place of aloneness, of imposed confinement, of personal inconvenience, of social ostracization, of unfriendly surroundings. It is the place where God meets with His man or His woman. It’s the one-on-one meeting ground of profound spiritual formation. This is where God gives a man a message that is formed from his life rather than his library.
John the Baptist had no mentor. Nor did Elijah. Nor did Job nor Abraham nor Jacob nor Joseph nor Moses nor Naomi nor David nor Paul for that matter. You must do the wilderness by yourself. It’s the voice of “one”. Nobody else but you and God. God designs the wilderness in such a way that nobody can mentor you through it. Nobody else has answers for the unique dryness of your desert. You’re on your own. Those who are given a voice to a generation do not find their message through a mentoring relationship, but rather in the solitude of the wilderness.
To give you a voice, God must first snuff out all the other voices. There is time for study and reading and gleaning from many voices, but then the time comes when the books are put away and a man (or a woman) meets alone with his God. He begins to be shaped by nothing but the Word and the Spirit.
And the journey is long and arduous. That’s why it says the voice of one ‘crying’. A cry is an expression of pain. The loneliness itself is one of the sources of pain. It’s through the crucible of the wilderness, with its attending tears, that a cry is birthed deep in the heart that no amount of resistance or distress can snuff out. The intimidation of Pharisees cannot silence these lips. Although this voice will be controversial, the cry will compel men to stop and listen. The message will be a call to repentance that prepares the way for the Glory of God. What does the voice say?
PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD
The voice cries, “Get ready-the Lord of Glory is coming!”
So what must we do to get ready? One of the first things on God’s heart is that we come to know “the way of the Lord.”
God is always self-consistent and true to His way. He works only through man, but He demands things be done His way. Those who try to do kingdom business their own way will soon discover that God is no longer doing business with them. God refuses to act unilaterally without man, for that would violate His intention for man’s participation. However, He waits to work alongside man until man conforms to His way.
Since His ways are a universe above our ways, (Isaiah 55:9), God must exert great energy to get us to align with His ways. Hence, the wilderness. The wilderness is God’s method of awakening us to the beauty and wonder of His ways. God took John the Baptist into the wilderness, not only to give him a voice, but also to conform his ways to God’s ways so that the message would not be compromised by the iniquities (hidden shortcomings) of the messenger.
When those with a forerunner message emerge in God’s time from the wilderness they will help God’s people to align with God’s ways and they will foretell the coming of God’s Glory.
MAKE STRAIGHT IN THE DESERT A HIGHWAY FOR OUR GOD
God likes to travel in the desert (see Song of Solomon 3). It’s in the desert that human hindrances to His purpose are starved out. With that statement I am referring in part to the human devices that naturally attach to the operations of the kingdom when times are good. Devices that seemed to be adequate in better times are found to be powerless in the dry seasons. The driest times cause our human mechanisms to shrivel and die, and thus the desert becomes the greatest conduit for God’s visitation.
The Hebrew word for ‘make straight’ in the phrase above means, “to be straight, right, upright, pleasing, good”. The same word (yashar) is translated as the English word “direct” in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct (make straight) your paths.” In other words, God will straighten out the path of His devoted servants who trust in him.
The enemy is constantly seeking to twist the straight ways of the Lord in an attempt to hinder Glory’s free flow. On one occasion, Elymas, a sorcerer, tried to hinder the kingdom’s advance by twisting the truth. That’s why Paul said to Elymas, “You son of the devil…will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? (Acts 13:10).
It’s very important to God that His servants represent His ways accurately to others, and that they can discern when His ways are being violated. It’s possible to utter right words in a wrong way so that God’s ways are misrepresented. God jealously yearns for His passionate heart for mankind to be accurately conveyed to the peoples. We must speak properly of His ways if we desire to be visited by His Glory. Let me share an incident that makes this truth personal for me.
For years I have struggled with a long-term physical affliction, seeking the Lord fervently for healing, and on one occasion someone said to me, “Bob, even if you’re never healed in this life, this affliction will have been worth it because of what if has produced in you.” When I prayed about that statement I thought of the words, “Do not pervert the straight ways of the Lord.” Because the straight ways of the God are this: He wounds, but then He binds up: He kills, but He makes alive; He imprisons, but then He liberates His captives. So I am committed to declaring the straight ways of the Lord because I am desperate for a visitation of His Glory. The straight way of the Lord is this: Not only has God changed me profoundly in this crucible of affliction, but He is also going to deliver me in His time and way. When God imprisons one of His servants in a furnace of affliction for the purpose of character formation, His highest purpose is to release that prisoner in the fullness of time into deliverance, freedom and increased fruitfulness.
If God has brought you into a desert, His heart intention for your desert is that a highway of holiness might be built in your heart upon which He can ride as He comes to you with deliverance power. I am convinced that this is the straight way of the Lord. And to whatever degree my understanding of His way is wrong, I fervently desire for the Lord to straighten out every crooked thing that remains in my heart and understanding.
(From Glory: When Heaven Invades Earth by Bob Sorge ©2000. Published by Oasis House. Used with permission.)
Bob Sorge served for thirteen years as senior pastor of Zion Fellowship in Canadaigua, NY. He now bases his writing and traveling ministry in Kansas City, MO, where he lives with his wife, Marci, and three children. Bob has written numerous books including, Exploring Worship, The Fire of Delayed Answers, and Secrets of the Secret Place.