Matthew 3.3 cont.
3 For this is the one having been spoken about by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “A voice calling out in the wilderness; prepare the way of the Lord; make His ways straight.”
It was usual for citizens to be called to prepare a road for the coming of a king. Indeed, it is often true that roads were built so that a king could travel along them.
We live in days of relatively good roads, although a lot of moaning is done at the appearance of pot holes. However, generally our roads are firm and reliable, capable of taking heavy vehicles travelling at speed.
I remember one time we were in Cyprus; we had hired a car. One day we set out on a journey that was to take us up Mount Olympus. We got there all well and good. We had a map and we decided to follow the map and take a different route home. This was fine until we left one village to discover that the tarmac road ran out and we were on a rough track that was no more than impacted mud. Lizards ran across the road, jumping over the ruts that had been made by other vehicles.
This road appeared to go on for a long time, about nine miles, until we came into another village where the roads were tarmac. We were very relieved to be able to drive on a much better prepared road.
In ancient times the roads would have been no more than mud tracks, although W Barclay, (quoting Josephus, the Jewish historian) tells us that Solomon laid a road of black basalt rock along the roads that led to Jerusalem. Barclay also says that there was a proverb, which said that there were three states of misery: sickness, fasting, and travelling.
Sadly some people get travel sickness and are forced to fast. Some would say this is complete misery.
With the advance of the Roman Empire the roads would have improved a lot as they built stone roads, complete with cambers to aid drainage.
In this we can see that God was using the Romans to build roads that prepared the way of the Lord. Later these roads would enable the spread of the gospel of Jesus.
The call of John for the people was that they needed to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus by repenting and confessing their sins.
The same call is for everyone today.
For everyone the truth is that Jesus is going to return, and we all need to be ready.