What is the glory of the LORD that all flesh shall see?                                   by Jack Kettler


“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye 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 shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)


Focusing on verse 5:


“And the glory (כְּב֣וֹד (kə·ḇō·wḏ) of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 40:5)


What is this glory that all flesh shall see? Whom is Isaiah pointing to?


Barnes' Notes on the Bible answers these two questions:


“And the glory of the Lord - The phrase here means evidently the majesty, power, or honor of Yahweh. He would display his power, and show himself to be a covenant-keeping God, by delivering his people from their bondage, and reconducting them to their own land. This glory and faithfulness would be shown in his delivering them from their captivity in Babylon; and it would be still more illustriously shown in his sending the Messiah to accomplish the deliverance of his people in later days.


And all flesh - All human beings. The word 'flesh' is often used to denote human nature, or mankind in general Genesis 6:12; Psalm 65:3; Psalm 145:21. The idea is, that the deliverance of his people would be such a display of the divine interposition, so that all nations would discern the evidences of his power and glory. But there is a fullness and a richness in the language which allows that it is not to be confined to that event. It is more strikingly applicable to the advent of the Messiah - and to the fact that through him the glory of Yahweh would be manifest to all nations. Rosenmuller supposes that this should be translated,


And all flesh shall see together


That the mouth of Yahweh hath spoken it.


The Hebrew will bear this construction, but there is no necessity for departing from the translation in the common version. The Septuagint adds here the words 'salvation of God' so as to read it, 'and all flesh shall see the salvation of God,' and this reading has been adopted in Luke 3:6; or it may be more probable that Luke Luk 3:4-6 has quoted from different parts of Isaiah, and that he intended to quote that part, not from the version of the Septuagint, but from Isaiah 52:10. Lowth, on the authority of the Septuagint, proposes to restore these words to the Hebrew text. But the authority is insufficient. The Vulgate, the Chaldee, the Syriac, and the Hebrew manuscripts concur in the reading of the present Hebrew text, and the authority of the Septuagint is altogether insufficient to justify a change.


For the mouth of the Lord - The strongest possible confirmation that it would be fulfilled (see the note at Isaiah 34:16). The idea is, that God had certainly promised their deliverance from bondage; and that his interposition, in a manner which should attract the attention of all nations, was certainly purposed by him. Few events have ever more impressively manifested the glory of God than the redemption of his people from Babylon; none has occurred, or will ever occur, that will more impressively demonstrate his glory, wisdom, and faithfulness, than the redemption of the world by the Messiah.” (1) (highlighting emphasis mine)


New Testament help in answering the starting question:


“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 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; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:1-6)


Focusing on verse 6: 


“And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:6)


Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Luke 3:6


“6. all flesh, &c.— (quoted literally from the Septuagint of Isa 40:5). The idea is that every obstruction shall be so removed as to reveal to the whole world the Salvation of God in Him whose name is the “Saviour” (compare Ps 98:3; Isa 11:10; 49:6; 52:10; Lu 2:31, 32; Ac 13:47).” (2)


The passage in Luke 3:1-6 quotes is Isaiah 40:3-5. In Luke, verse 6 is Isaiah 40:5, “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”


Luke connects the “glory of the Lord” with “the salvation of God.”


“The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:10)


As Barnes' Notes indicates, perhaps Luke had Isaiah 52:10 in mind in Luke 3:6.


From the commentator William Hendriksen:


“Luke 4–6. as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:


A voice of one crying in the wilderness:

 Make ready the way of the Lord,

 Make straight his paths.

 Every valley shall be filled up,

 And every mountain and hill leveled down;

 The crooked roads shall become straight,

 And the rough ways smooth.

 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.


      The reference is, of course, to Isa. 40:3 f. Matthew (3:3) and Mark (1:3) quote only Isa. 40:3. Luke also quotes verse 4 and to a certain extent even reproduces part of verse 5. The last five lines, therefore, of Luke’s quotation—hence, the lines beginning with “every valley” and ending with “the salvation of God”—are in the New Testament found only in Luke.


  In addition to a minor difference (between the Greek text and the Hebrew original) in the beginning, for which see the footnote, and a few other small differences farther on, the main variation concerns the close of the quotation. Here the Hebrew text (Isa. 40:5) has:


      and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.


     The Septuagint has:


and the glory of the Lord shall he seen [or: revealed], and all flesh shall see the salvation of God; for the Lord has spoken.


      Luke (3:6) omits “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,” but has retained “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

  If it be borne in mind that God’s, hence also Christ’s, glory is revealed most marvelously in the work of salvation (John 12:23, 31, 32; 17:4, 5), it will be clear that there is no essential difference between these three representations.


  Isa. 40:3–5 symbolically pictures the approach of Jehovah for the purpose of leading the procession of Jews who will be returning joyfully to their homeland after long years of captivity. In the Syrian desert, between Babylonia and Palestine, the way must be prepared for the Lord’s coming. So, a herald cries out to the people,


     In the wilderness make ready the way of the Lord,

 Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.


      This figure of the herald is in the Gospels applied to John, as Christ’s herald. The Baptist, by saying, “I am the voice …” shows that he agrees with this interpretation (John 1:23). So does Jesus himself (Matt. 11:10). This shows that the deliverance granted to the Jews when, in the latter part of the sixth century b.c. and afterward, they returned to their own country was but a type of that far more glorious liberation in store for all who accept Christ as their Savior and Lord. In other words, Isaiah’s prophecy regarding the voice that cried out lacked total fulfilment until both Messiah’s forerunner and also the Lord himself had arrived on the scene.


  The appropriate application of Isa. 40:3 to John the Baptist is evident from the following: (a) John was preaching in the wilderness (Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4); and (b) the task assigned to him from the days of his infancy (Luke 1:76, 77), yes even earlier (Luke 1:17; Mal. 3:1), was exactly this, namely, to be Messiah’s herald or way-preparer. He was to be the Lord’s “voice” to the people, all of that but not more than that (cf. John 3:22–30). As such he must not only announce Christ’s approach and presence but also urge the people to prepare the way of the Lord, that is, by God’s grace and power to effect a complete change of mind and heart. This implies that they must make straight his paths, meaning that they must provide the Lord with a ready access into their hearts and lives. They must make straight whatever was crooked, not in line with God’s holy will. They must clear away all the obstacles which they had thrown into his path; such obstructions as self-righteousness and smug complacency (“We have Abraham as our father,” Matt. 3:9), greed, cruelty, slander, etc. (Luke 3:13, 14).


  It is evident that both in Isaiah’s and in John’s preaching as recorded by the Gospel writers “the wilderness” through which a path must be made ready for the Lord is in the final analysis the people’s heart, by nature inclined to all evil. Though the literal meaning is not absent, it is subsumed into the figurative. The underlying idea is indeed the actual wilderness. But the very sight of this dreary region must have impressed those who listened to John’s preaching with the fact that they themselves were spiritually “wandering in a desert land where all the streams are dry.”


  It is always difficult to determine exactly to what extent Isaiah’s language, as quoted here by Luke, is to be explained figuratively. A thorough-going symbolical interpretation is detailed in the chart below.


      Symbolical Interpretation of Luke 3:4b–6


    The Words of Luke 3:4b–6, A Possible (?) Interpretation


    A voice of one crying in the wilderness:

   The message of John the Baptist, shouting in the wilderness:


 Make ready the way of the Lord, Make straight his paths.

   By means of genuine conversion (Jer. 31:18) make it possible for the Lord to make a straight path to your heart with his salvation.


  Every valley shall be filled up, And every mountain and hill leveled down;

   Every manifestation of feigned humility as well as every attitude of pride and arrogance will be and must be removed.


    The crooked roads shall become straight,

   Sly, perverse, deceitful habits must be and will be broken.


    And the rough ways smooth.

   Indifference, unconcern, and waywardness must and will make way for genuine interest and accessibility.

    And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

   Then people of every clime and nation, viewed in their weakness and need, will experience the salvation provided by God. Cf. Luke 2:32.


      But it is also possible that such expressions as “every valley.” “every mountain and hill,” “the rough ways,” etc., pertain only to the underlying figure of an approaching King, and have no further significance. The meaning then would simply be, “By God’s grace remove every obstacle in the way of the entrance of the Lord into your hearts and lives. Be converted.” And is not that the central meaning in either case?” (3)


For more study on this, see Easton's Bible Dictionary on the Hebrew and Greek word for glory:


“(Hebrew kabhod; Greek doxa).


(1.) Abundance, wealth, treasure, and hence honour (Psalm 49:12); glory (Genesis 31:1; Matthew 4:8; Revelation 21:24, 26).


(2.) Honour, dignity (1 Kings 3:13; Hebrews 2:7 1 Peter 1:24); of God (Psalm 19:1; 29:1); of the mind or heart (Genesis 49:6; Psalm 7:5; Acts 2:46).


(3.) Splendour, brightness, majesty (Genesis 45:13; Isaiah 4:5; Acts 22:11; 2 Corinthians 3:7); of Jehovah (Isaiah 59:19; 60:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).


(4.) The glorious moral attributes, the infinite perfections of God (Isaiah 40:5; Acts 7:2; Romans 1:23; 9:23; Ephesians 1:12). Jesus is the "brightness of the Father's glory" (Hebrews 1:3; John 1:14; 2:11).


(5.) The bliss of heaven (Romans 2:7, 10; 5:2; 8:18; Hebrews 2:10; 1 Peter 5:1, 10).


(6.) The phrase “Give glory to God” (Joshua 7:19; Jeremiah 13:16) is a Hebrew idiom meaning, “Confess your sins.” The words of the Jews to the blind man, “Give God the praise” (John 9:24), are an adjuration to confess. They are equivalent to, “Confess that you are an impostor,” “Give God the glory by speaking the truth;" for they denied that a miracle had been wrought.” (4)


In closing:


As noted in the Easton citation, the Biblical Hebrew word for 'glory' (כבוד, kavod) was translated by the Greek Septuagint as doxa.


Also, of interest is the Greek Septuagint adds the words 'salvation of God' so as to read it, 'and all flesh shall see the salvation of God’ in Isaiah 40:5. Indeed, Isaiah 40:5 and Isaiah 52:10 point to the Lord Jesus Christ as the salvation that has been revealed. A magnificent glorification of Christ.


“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)




1.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 7 p. 926-927.

2.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 995.

3.      William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Luke, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1984), pp. 201-204.

4.      M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.


Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com