The prophet Isaiah is talking about preparing the way for the Lord, our God. “A voice cries out: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” (Is 40:3-4)
It seems like nobody would listen, nobody would care, the voice ignored. How can we answer this voice’s call? Is it by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel? Could this voice eventually speak not only to Israel more than 2500 years ago? Could it actually speaking to us? Are we preparing the way of the Lord?
I personally do not believe timing behind Trump’s announcement was accidentally as we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ into our world at Christmas. I just think he and his advisers misinterpret Isaiah completely when they really think the new Jerusalem mentioned in the book of Revelation is this city in modern state Israel.
All of that leaves us with the question on how we actually read a text in the Bible. I personally believe that the Bible as a holy text inspired by the Holy Spirit is first of all timeless. So asking what the prophet actually meant by saying that might be of historic interest but theologically and much more spiritually useless. Of course there was a reason for that message of comfort and hope at the time of the Babylonian exile but this hope had nothing to do with Jesus or us today.
Mark starts his Gospel by quoting those verses and interprets them filled with the Holy Spirit: Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans and Mark seems to have no idea how everything could ever turn out to be good. So he remembers those verses written at the time of the biggest struggle for the Jewish people – the Babylonian exile. He tries to understand that he is in a similar situation. His hope, his dream, everything he lived for smashed when Jesus was cruzified but nevertheless the soldier standing at his cross confesses “Truly, this is the Son of God!” when he sees Jesus die. After Jerusalem was destroyed once again his hopes and dreams seems to be destroyed. But the message of Jesus himself puts new hope in him. Could it be that Jerusalem (the city of peace and fullness) is not somewhere out there but much closer to ourselves? Could it be that Jesus – when he talks about Jerusalem – is not talking about the physical city with its buildings and the temple but about our heart?
Just think about it: Jesus wants to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem in three days but he is talking not about the physical temple on Zion but about his body as the temple where the Holy Spirit dwells. Why is it so difficult to understand that the Bible is not talking about the physical city of Jerusalem but about our soul, our heart where God will take home in the book of Revelation. So preparing the way of the Lord, giving him a landing place – if you wanna call it – does not mean something outside but deep within ourselves. Preparing the way of the Lord might eventually mean to prepare ourselves for Christ becoming man in our midst, not socially but individually – in our hearts and minds, in our soul. Welcoming Jesus in my world (my heart, my mind, my soul and my body) puts enormous joy in me, transforms the world into God’s kingdom so that all the people I meet will see that there is a joy, a love, a desire fulfilled in the way we meet people. So yes it does change the outside world but God entering this is always via the hearts, minds and actions by his believers.