After four-hundred years God’s silence is finally broken when the word of God came to a prophet – John son of Zechariah.
John’s task was to prepare the people for God’s arrival – a voice in the wilderness. What kind of preparations need to be made? According to Isaiah, the voice calls for a road (the way) to be made ready for God’s arrival – mountains need to be lopped off in order to fill the valleys to make a straight path for the divine-king.
Poetically, this refers to repentance. What is repentance? Below are some great quotes on repentance. They demonstrate that repentance is not simply a sadness at wrong-doing but rather a change in how one feels, thinks and wills – a change within the complete person, a reorientation of life.
[Repentance] was no mere vain regret for an ill-spent past, or surface modification of conduct, but a radical transformation of the mind which issues indeed in “fruits worthy of repentance” but itself insists in an inward renewal of mental attitude. … Its roots were planted in godly sorrow, its issue was amendment of life, its essence consisted in a radical change of mind and heart towards sin. … Here it prevailingly stands for that fundamental change of mind by which the back is turned not upon one sin or some sins, but upon all sin, and the face definitely toward God and to His service, — of which therefore a transformed life is the outworking. It is not itself this transformed life, into which it issues, any more than it is the painful regret out of which it issues. No doubt, it may spread its skirts so widely as to include on this side the sorrow for sin and on that the amendment of life; but what it precisely is, and what in all cases it emphasises, is the inner change of mind which regret induces and which itself induces a reformed life. Godly sorrow works repentance: when we turn to God we are doing works worthy of repentance. WARFIELD
[Repentance is] a radical change of mind and heart that leads to a complete turn about of life. WILLIAM HENDRICKSON
Repentance, then, involves a total, radical alteration within the core of our personal being. STRANLEY GRENZ
True repentance is a holy change of the mind, when upon the feeling sight of God’s mercy, and of a man’s own misery, he turneth from all his known and secret sins, to serve God in holiness and righteousness all the rest of his days LEWIS BAYLY, 1690
The antecedent of true repentance is godly sorrow; this worketh repentance. It is not repentance itself, but it is a good preparative to repentance, and in some sense the cause that produces repentance. HENRY