We’ve got your daily encouragement, written by Nate Hemphill.
Just a reminder: This month is going to be a little different than our normal faith cycles. We’re going to look at the birth of Jesus, why this season is so special to us, and the joy of a fulfilled promise. We’ll be reading through Luke, but then, as it shows prophecies fulfilled, we’ll spend a day, or several, looking at the prophecies from the Old Testament that correlate.
We want to think about what it would have been like for the Jews as they waited thousands of years for their Messiah. Imagine the rough aspects of your life, and things you’ve been through, and what it would be like to have someone promise you a savior, and that savior finally came. Would you recognize him? Would you know that’s what is happening? Would you be able to suspend your idea of salvation to accept the one being given to you?
“3 A voice cries:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.'”
” 1In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”
Growing up as a young boy in church I can distinctly remember being very confused about the connection between the Old and New Testaments. The division between the two was confounding. In my mind, the entirety of the Bible was something like… God created the Earth, and us – then we screwed everything up – then a long time later Jesus came to set things right so that we could all be together again. It wasn’t until the scriptures became “unpackaged” that a new understanding enabled me to see that the entire book was the story of Jesus! The old was just a shadow of what was to come – a promise fulfilled.
Today’s two scriptures tie together a prophecy of Jesus’ predecessor in the start of his ministry, John the Baptist. In Isaiah’s prophecy, the Israelites were in exile. Despite being God’s chosen people, their sin resulted in the destruction of their holy temple, death, scattering and enslavement. In the midst of their darkest days, Isaiah speaks of a voice crying out in the wilderness ,“Clear the way for the Lord….the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together.” Who was Isaiah speaking of? How long would it take before this prophecy would be fulfilled? In this case, about 685 years!
Fast forward to John the Baptist, a man literally living a ministry in the wilderness of Judea, just six months older than Jesus preaching, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He knew that he was awaiting the Messiah’s arrival. When John laid eyes on Jesus for the first time he said, “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John reluctantly agreed to baptize Jesus in the river Jordan, then saw the sky open up, a dove ascend, and the voice of God speak, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
We can take away a few important lessons from seeing this fulfilled prophecy in scripture. First, that the entirety of scripture is the story of Jesus. Second, that God’s promises have no expiration – you can count on them! If he’s made a promise to you, it will come about. Finally, things happen on God’s time table, not ours – so be patient.
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