“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The King’s Highway, by Randall D. Kittle

General Dwight D. Eisenhower was known for his courageous leadership during World War II. His battle-tested skill and thorough planning equipped the allied troops to reclaim Europe. Soon after returning to the US as a hero, he was elected president of the United States.

While in Europe, Eisenhower had experienced the danger and difficulty of troops trying to navigate their narrow, twisting roads. Because of his concern for our national security, one of President Eisenhower’s first undertakings was to commission a network of highways. Eventually this became the nation’s interstate highway system. Mountains were tunneled through, hills were dug out, and mammoth bridges were erected to traverse valleys. This great American leader undertook huge projects at a great expense so we, as a nation, could be more secure.

America’s Highway Need
America needs another kind of highway building program in these days. We may have belted the nation with four-lane highways from coast to coast and north to south, but never before in American history have we so desperately needed a highway for the Lord to be established in our land. We need our hearts and homes properly prepared for a visitation from the King of Heaven and Earth.

In ancient times, a conquering king secured his newly acquired territories through highways commissioned by the king and built for his troops. Isaiah had this in mind when he declared,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken’” (Isaiah 40:3–5).

All four Gospels identify John the Baptist as the one of whom Isaiah prophesied. In all the Gospels, the ministry of John preceded and prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus. John the Baptist’s job was to announce the imminent coming of the Christ, declaring, “The King is coming! Prepare the King’s Highway, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Fill in the valleys. Level the mountains. Smooth out the rough ground, because the King is coming.” In other words, John the Baptist was the “spiritual civil engineer” for building God’s highway of visitation.

Transforming a wilderness into a highway means undertaking a huge civil engineering project. Highway building is destructive before it is constructive. The wrecking crew precedes the construction workers. It requires blasting and demolition, bulldozing and scraping, as vast sections are cleared to make room for a superhighway. During the process, it sometimes looks as though a tornado has struck or a bomb has been dropped on the area. Homes have been demolished; residents have been relocated. Hillsides have been carved out, familiar landmarks have disappeared, and nothing will ever be the same again. It is destructive, disturbing, and expensive … but there is no other way to do it. You cannot build a highway over or around everything. There is no undestructive, undisturbing, or inexpensive way to do it.

God’s Forerunners
John the Baptist lived up to the advance notices of Isaiah as God’s forerunner. He was a disturbing preacher calling God’s people to awaken from lethargy. He was not out preaching friendly, fragrant sermonettes on how to succeed. John the Baptist called his congregation a “brood of vipers” (Luke 3:7), and he didn’t just prune, he laid his ax to the root of the tree (see Luke 3:9). He bulldozed and blasted, demanding, “… fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8). As Vance Havner put it, “He was no mild-mannered man standing before a congregation of mild-mannered people, exhorting everybody to be more mild-mannered.” People came from all around to hear this rugged, outdoor preacher … the first prophetic voice in more than 400 years.

The Church in America needs a healthy upheaval. We need a company of believers cut in the mode of John the Baptist in America today to call the nation and Church to repentance … to be a voice in the wilderness. We have plenty of wilderness, but where are God’s forerunners to make a way for the Lord! As we draw near to the close of this age before our Lord’s return, we need a release of forerunners to prepare the way for the Lord’s presence to be with His people. In these days, the Spirit of God is raising up a new generation of forerunners those who, like John the Baptist, will declare the King is coming to His Church and help prepare the way for Him.

A Disturbing Business
Highway building is disturbing. It is the same when we make a way for the Lord. We cannot build a highway for God amidst the wasteland and wilderness of carnality. We cannot superimpose it over worldly living and unconfessed sins. It calls for a heart cleansing and housecleaning — a bonfire removal of everything that impedes our way to God.

The Word of God is called a hammer, a fire, and a sword — and all three are disturbing! The true message of the kingdom is not a lullaby to relax us and induce sleep, but a reveille to awaken out of sleep. It says:
“Awake, you who sleep … and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14); “… it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13:11); “Awake to righteousness and do not sin” (1 Corinthians 15:34). How can we expect an awakening without disturbing the sleepers?

Through the centuries whenever the gospel has broken through, it has always caused a commotion. Luther shattered the peace of institutionalized religion. Church history is filled with the names of those who have helped make a way for God through the wilderness of their day. Names like Knox, Fox, Bunyan, Wesley, and Edwards are remembered for building a highway for our King. Every outbreak of New Testament Christianity has been a holy disturbance … but it has ushered in a fresh visitation from God.

In Isaiah 40:3–5, God gives us the blueprints for His highway-building program. The Lord speaks through Isaiah and gives instructions on how to pave the way for an encounter with Him. God tells us how to get from the place of wilderness to the place of visitation — a highway so God can come visit us.

An Appropriating Process
Building the King’s highway begins with a “voice crying in the wilderness” (Isaiah 40:3) — an appropriating process. Before any modern highway is built, a declaration of intent to build is issued, and then laws must be passed to both approve the plan and appropriate money to finance it.

For years, in the state of Illinois, lawmakers proposed, debated, and even passed laws to build a north-south highway. But year after year these plans fell short of the mark and no such road was forthcoming. This was because even when a law was passed that approved the new highway, it did no good because they never passed an appropriations bill — a law setting aside money for the project. Once the highway bill was appropriated, the plans began to move from design to completion.

In the kingdom of God, we appropriate God’s promises by believing them, declaring them, and praying in faith for them to come to pass. We need to be praying for the King’s highway to be established in our lives, our churches, our city, and our nation. We must declare the truth that God is even now beginning to prepare the way in our hearts to visit us in greater measure … with the desire to manifest His glory in and through our lives. Let us not fall short of the mark by failing to appropriate His promise of visitation and act upon it in faith by declaration and intercession.

A Filling Process
Next, it declares, “Every valley shall be exalted” (Isaiah 40:4) — a filling process. A valley is a low place … a place that causes us to look down, to be downcast. What is your valley? In other words, what has brought you low? Is it some area of failure or some hardship you have experienced? Is it a financial setback or marital tension? Perhaps it is your past disappointments?

We need to forgive those who have hurt us and give the Lord our unmet expectations. Only once all our unforgiveness, bitterness, and disappointments have been emptied can we ask God to fill those areas of our hearts — to
“exalt” those valleys. He will fill them with peace, love, and renewed hope.

A Leveling Process
Then, “every mountain and hill brought low” (Isaiah 40:4) — a leveling process. In most of our lives, there are things that stand in the way of the presence of the Lord coming into our lives in full measure.  These obstacles are idols that exalt themselves against God. If we allow these hills or mountains to remain part of the landscape of our lives, they will severely limit our ability to commune with God and receive fully from Him.

These idols can be mountains like pride, greed, lust, and addictions. Or, they can be hills like popularity, old habits, time-consuming hobbies, or recreational activities. The only way to remove any of these idols is to repent of them and ask the Lord for forgiveness.

When Jacob was returning to Bethel — the house of God — with his family, he exhorted them,
“Put away the foreign gods that are among you” (Genesis 35:2). The way back to the presence of God has never changed. If we want our churches to be places where we truly meet with God, let us remove our idols no matter how familiar they have become.

A Straightening Process
In addition, “the crooked places shall be made straight” (Isaiah 40:4) — a straightening process. There is nothing more tedious and exhausting than a long trip on a meandering, backtracking road. When our children were young, we took them on a car trip to a number of interesting places in the Midwestern United States. I had heard that the drive from Wind Cave National Park to Mount Rushmore was particularly “scenic” if you drove the route through Custer State Park. Well, if scenic means winding, weaving, and tossing, then my information was correct. It was pretty at first until we were all carsick.

Spiritually we will have a crooked walk not so much because of wickedness, but loss of focus. Whenever our eyes get off of Jesus, we tend to drift or sink. (Remember Peter walking on the water?)  Busyness, doubt, hypocrisy, distractions, or double-mindedness can cause us to walk waywardly instead of setting a straight course. To walk the straight walk God would have for us, we must keep our eyes focused on Christ, removing every distraction and repenting anytime we lose our focus because of doubts or become overwhelmed by the schedule to which we have said yes.

A Smoothing Process
The verse continues, “… and the rough places made smooth” (Isaiah 40:4) — a smoothing process. Our lives are “rough” when the way we deal with others is gruff and self-focused instead of kind and compassionate. Our tongues are “rough” when we talk about others or repeatedly grumble or murmur.

Rough lives are unfruitful lives — lives that do not show the fruit of the Spirit believers should increasingly possess. We can check our spiritual smoothness by reading Galatians 5:22–23 and see how fruitful our lives appear.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” If this test reveals you are falling far short of the mark, endeavor to practice Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.” Choose to think about only those things that build up and bless. Take any other thought captive and renounce it.

A Revealing Process
Finally, “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed” (Isaiah 40:5) — a revealing process. After all the construction is done, new highways normally open with a ceremony where officials cut a ribbon to announce the beautiful new highway is open. This is done to declare the job completed and show others how marvelous the new road truly is.

The end of God’s blueprints for His highway-building plan tells us
“the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” God’s glory can mean various marvelous things. What is the glory of the Lord spoken of here? I believe God shows us how He will manifest His glory from His highway at the end of this chapter. “Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand … Behold, His reward is with Him … He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:10–11); and “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. … those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29–31).

If we will build a highway for the Lord to be with us out of the wilderness of our lives, He will protect us with His strong right hand. He will reward us with His presence and with every blessing we need. He will care for us and lead us. And finally, He will strengthen the weak and refresh the weary! Surely God’s glorious presence with us will be worth every effort it takes to build the King’s highway in our lives.

The Cost
Building any highway is an expensive process. Just as it is a staggering financial undertaking to build a new highway across the country, it costs to make a way for the Lord in our lives. It costs in time, in prayer, and in the forsaking of evil. It takes effort and hard work. It costs hours of straightening out things by making restitution. It costs our very selves surrendering our will to God.

Each of us has a part to play to make a highway for God, and it begins with getting our focus where it needs to be — on the Lord. We must remember that the kingdom of God is first and foremost about the King — Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God is nothing without the King. Upon Him alone must our heart and hope be fixed!

These are days of preparation. Our biggest task in these days is to prepare the way of the Lord by pulling down the high places, building up the low places, straightening out the crooked places, and smoothing out the rough places in our hearts, homes, churches, and nation, to make a highway for the Lord … the King’s Highway, and then crying out,
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

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