This Day in History: 0000-12-20
December 20 – Isaiah 40: 3-5
Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!” Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all the people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!
The Messiah would be proceeded by a prophet who would prepare the way for His coming.
Luke 1:5-17 & 41-45 – When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah… While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense alter. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord….
At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “ God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”
Luke 3: 3-6 – Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. Isaiah had spoken of John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for Him! The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level. The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth. And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.'”
The Jewish people knew there would be a prophet to precede the Messiah. To prepare the way. They had gone hundreds of years with no word from a prophet concerning the coming of Messiah when the angel appeared to Zechariah and announced that his son would be the prophet Israel had been waiting for. The coming of the Messiah was VERY near!
Unfortunately, most of the Jewish people had already given up hope. They’d forgotten. The long period of waiting had cultivated a sense of complacency in them, and they were content to just live life without God. Oh sure, they still had their rituals and ceremonies and feigned religion, but the expectant attitude, the one that counted on God to keep His promises, was scarce.
Then, along came John the Baptist. The angel had proclaimed his role, and even while he was still in his mother’s womb, he prepared the way for Jesus.
John was quirky. Kinda weird. People weren’t sure what to make of him, but when he spoke, something stirred inside of them nonetheless. Crowds would make their way out to the Jordan River to hear him preach. Hundreds were moved by his message and plunged beneath the waters of baptism to signify their desire to turn from their waywardness and follow God afresh. Though he had not been mentioned for too long, there were whispers of Messiah once again. Could this man be the one they’d been waiting for?
John made his mission clear. He was not the Messiah. He was the one who would come before. The one the prophets had foretold who would prepare the way. He was a sign to the people that’s God Word is always true. He is still that same thing to us today.
We have the distinct honor to have the whole Cannon of Scripture. We can read the whole story. We get to examine the prophecy and then skip forward and see with clarity how John was exactly what had been promised. We can see how Jesus, too, fulfilled the promises about the coming Messiah. What a privilege it is to be counted among His own in this exact time in history! But let us be cautious. Let’s refuse to allow His seemingly long silence to lull us into complacency as the Jewish people were. There are still many promises yet to be fulfilled when He comes again. And He will come again! So let’s be ready! Let’s live in eager anticipation and live each day with an urgency to see His Kingdom increased before it’s too late!