The punctuation of the wilderness

The punctuation of the wilderness

Luke 3: 4 “As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”

Luke is quoting from Isaiah 40:3 “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Can you see a difference?

The punctuation makes all the difference doesn’t it?

In Luke the focus is of John who is Isaiah’s lone voice in the wilderness with a message to prepare the way.

In Isaiah where John quotes from there is a voice instructing us that in the wilderness we need to prepare the way.

The punctuation marks have most probably been added centuries later and at times though they don’t change the text they can change its focus.

I don’t think the point is that John is a voice in the wilderness calling those outside the wilderness to repent.

The point is that John was quoting Isaiah in telling people to prepare a way in the wilderness for the Lord to come.

In a dramatic turnaround for the Israelites who had journeyed through the wilderness to the Jordan River and into the Promised Land he now calls for them to return to the wilderness at the Jordan. Generations later they were celebrating in many rituals the wilderness years and yet John sees they need to return to once again engage with God.

It is difficult for us Christians to appreciate the enormous impact the wilderness plays in a Jewish mind. The Christian runs from it for it is an enemy. For the Jew it was where God fed the people with miraculous food, where He gave them the instructions for living, where their culture was refined, He led them day and night with a cloud and a pillar of fire, He defended them from their enemies, He supplied water from the Rock, it was here where they truly experienced His Presence, in the wilderness.

They didn’t come out of the wilderness because they sinned and died there. Now John is calling them to return through Isaiah’s eyes because the Lord is going to appear again. This time they must repent and be forgiven of their sins and live.

It is in the wilderness where we discover His Presence, His Protection and His Provision.

If you describe your situation or your soul as a wilderness today then clear out the rubbish, make way, get ready for the Lord will come. He never leaves His children alone in the wilderness for them who want Him.

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