Advent Devotion for Tuesday, December 10

By Paul Dickerson

Read Isaiah 40:1-5

It just wouldn’t be Advent without hearing these familiar verses about John the Baptist. All four Gospels identify John as the “voice calling in the wilderness.” But Isaiah’s prophecy about John begins with God’s instruction to “comfort” His people and “speak tenderly to Jerusalem.”

At first blush, there doesn’t seem to be much that is comforting about John. He wore strange clothes and had a stranger diet (Mt. 3:4). He picked fights with the religious leaders and even the king (Luke 3: 7-9, 19-20). He meets a grisly end (Mark 6:14-29). But the people flocked to him nonetheless because he had a message they were longing to hear: a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3).

We still need the same message today. Look again at where the way is made straight, where the rough ground is made level, and where the glory of the Lord will be revealed: In the wilderness. The bad lands. God-forsaken country. We all have those places in our hearts that we feel like God has forsaken.

Maybe it’s pain from a broken relationship. Maybe it’s a sin we return to no matter how hard we try or how many times we repent. Whatever it is, those seemingly God-forsaken areas are precisely what God is addressing through Isaiah. And our Lord says that even in those areas the war is over and the sin has been forgiven. And that is a great comfort.

We pray: Lord Jesus, forgive us for the times we have doubted Your desire and ability to forgive all of our sins, even the ones that to us seem unforgivable. Thank you for bringing your love and power into the wilderness of our hearts. Make our rough places smooth so that Your glory will be revealed in our lives. Amen.