Isaiah 40:3-4 NASB

[3]A voice is calling, "Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. [4]"Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley;

After the call to clear the way for the Lord should the above text be understood in a literal sense?

  • "Is _____ meant to be understood literally?" – Probably not, especially when the literal meaning makes no sense.
    – 習約塔
    Jan 27 '19 at 3:53

The New Testament quotes Isa 40:3 in three places, Matt 3:3, Mark 1:3, John 1:23. In all cases they are interpreted as a prophecy of John the Baptist and the function he would serve in preparing the way for Messiah. this was fulfilled as follows.

  • John the Baptist called out and preached in the wilderness of Judea (literally)
  • John prepared the way for Messiah (Jesus) by "making smooth a highway" (figurative language here), that is, John did preparatory preaching so that people would better receive Jesus' message of the Gospel.
  • The quintessential Hebrew hyperbole then goes on to elaborate in typical Hebrew poetic style that this smooth highway would have no impediment - every valley would be lifted up and hills made low - that is the highway would be straight and flat (even and level) so is to provide a minimum impediment to travel. This is highly figurative language and suggests that John would make the reception of Jesus preaching easier to understand as symbolised by a smooth and level highway.

Therefore, I conclude that the language has both literal and figurative (or metaphorical) elements to it as explained by the inspired NT writers.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.