A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it." For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 40: 3-5 (New International Version)
The second half of Isaiah's prophecy begins with a startling revelation: God's comfort is about to be poured out upon His people. As is usual with God's plan, not in the way humanity anticipated, but rather in the way the Lord intends. This new plan of God's will not just be about restoration to the Promised Land, but rather about the final removal of the barrier between humanity and the Lord--sin.
John the Baptist was viewed as this shadowy, "voice in the wilderness." He came with his message of repentance and confession, not for Gentiles, but rather God's chosen ones--Israel. He prepared the "way of the Lord," by changing people's hearts and their attitude toward both self and the Lord. Rite and ritual would now longer define out relationship with God, but rather embrace His loving-kindness through sincere faith.
Advent is about anticipation. The announcement to both Zechariah and Mary have been made. Joseph has been embraced within the story through his own revelation. The expectant parents are on their way to Bethlehem; magi have begun their journey from the east. The irruption of God's loving-kindness is about to happen in life's first cries of a new babe. The Messiah Lord will be hear. Angels will sing, shepherds will confirm their revelation for themselves, and costliest gifts will be presented to the One who is King of the Jews.
(I will be enjoying the holiday with family, then away on a trip, so no new devotion till December 9--DRS)