Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight…
Every valley shall be filled; that the people might know what our Lord would do, to exalt the mercy of God to undone sinners, who, like valleys, lay very low under despondency of spirit; John bid them repent, which the law did not admit of. This word repent is a most sweet word, and tends to advance mercy and God's free grace, and so to fill up those valleys, I mean despairing and desponding sinners. When God sends a messenger to rebels, and commands them to repent and believe, a sweet pardon be sure is comprehended therein; and this tends to fill up or exalt two valleys.
1. The lowly and desponding soul.
2. The mercy of God is exalted, which was one grand design of God in sending His Son to satisfy Divine justice; for mercy and Divine goodness could not be raised to run level with justice, until our Saviour had made a complete satisfaction for our sins.
I. But before I proceed, let it be considered (as I conceive) that the grand obstructions or obstacles which lie in the way of God's being reconciled to sinners, and of sinners' reconciliation unto Him, are comprehended by these metaphorical expressions.
1. The haughty Jews and Pharisees, who were swelled with pride; yea, like lifted up high mountains and hills; how did the Pharisee glory, "God, I thank Thee I am not as other men, nor as this publican"?
2. They were like mountains, in respect had to their legal privileges, being God's covenant people, boasting "They had Abraham to their father, and never were in bondage" (John 8:33). John Baptist in his ministry strove to level these mountains, when he saw them coming to his baptism, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
3. The Jews and Pharisees might be compared to mountains and hills, in that they boasted they had the key of knowledge, and were the only teachers and masters of Israel, and that all besides themselves were ignorant and foolish persons. Do but read what holy Paul speaketh of them, to bring them down level with the ground.
II. Sin (as Mr. Caryl notes, speaking of this very text) may be also meant by these mountains.
III. By mountains here also may be meant, or refer unto those great oppositions our Lord Jesus met withal, in His working out our salvation.
1. From men.
2. From the devil. These stood in His way like mighty mountains, like as Sanballet stood as a mountain in the way of Zerubbabel (a type of Christ): "And who art thou, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, thou shalt become a plain" (Zechariah 4:7).
IV. As valleys may refer to despairing sinners, so mountains and hills may refer to haughty and presumptuous sinners; I speak not here of self-righteous persons.
V. Valleys may refer to the low estate of mankind, or of God's elect, as considered dead in the first Adam, or as under the law and curse thereof.
Parallel VersesKJV: Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;