This week Pam wanted me to read this article concerning the biblical phrase “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” I have never spoken concerning the passage in Matthew or from the passage from Isaiah from which Matthew is quoting and she wondered what I thought of Diane Butler Bass’s thoughts. I really liked them. I would encourage you to read her article. I think it is quite good.
To quote Dr Butler Bass.
By the time of Luke, however, anyone reading the passage would have been thinking of Roman roads.
And how roads were essentially the pathway of Caesar’s “glory” — the wealth of empire, the army traveling, the rich and nobles and governors moving to newly colonized places.
I tend to think of Roman roads as the Ancient Near Eastern equivalent of aircraft carriers during the Cold War or probably drones during our own time. When I graduated from the University of South Alabama with my undergraduate business degree I began working at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. While I was there we worked on LHD class naval ships. The LHD is basically a small aircraft carrier. While we worked on those (ok others worked on them I was a workman’s compensation adjuster) one of the naval officers there described aircraft carriers as extensions of American power. When an American aircraft carrier was in a region that region was suddenly controlled by America because the force that an aircraft carrier was able to exert was that impressive. Ancient Near Eastern roads did the same thing.
As Dr. Butler Bass pointed out when God calls for “the way to be prepared” it is a statement of the extension of God’s rule into the world. I would add that this is both individual and corporate. Dr. Butler Bass described how her past was limited to a “spiritualized” internal understanding version of preparing the way and she now understands the call of preparation of “rebellion” “of political liberation”. I tend to think it is a both/and situation – that God calls us to prepare the way both within ourselves and within our world.
I think this is one of the things that I like about Advent Conspiracy, it is corporate and individual at the same time. I believe it encourages us to celebrate our Lord’s incarnation in such a manner that it leads to us preparing the way both in our hearts and our world.
Prepare the way of the Lord, you children of God!