As a drowning man grasps at a straw, all that is within us reaches out for the certainty which the conscience gives. If only we might stand in the shining presence of the other will, not doubtfully but with assurance! If only, instead of merely guessing at it as men who can only hope and wish, we might contemplate it quietly and take enjoyment in it! If only we might approach it, come to know it, and have it for our own! The deepest longing in us is born of the deepest need: oh that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down! Oppressed and afflicted by his own unrighteousness and the unrighteousness of others, man – every man – lifts up from the depths of his nature a cry for righteousness, the righteousness of God. Whoever understands him at this point, understands him fully. Whoever can reach a hand to him here, can really help him. This is the reason that such prophets as Moses, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist are figures never to be erased from the memory of humanity. They uncovered to men their deepest need; they made articulate their conscience within them; they wakened and kept awake the longing within them for the righteousness of God. They prepared the way of the Lord.

Karl Barth