Monday, November 30, 2009

Voice in Wilderness Isaiah 40

Isaiah 40:3 "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." See also Matt. 3:3

It is appropriate, in this Christmas season, that we come to this chapter where the coming of the Christ is mentioned. Indeed, it would be a difficult thing to find a part of the Bible that is not about him. It is His story.

Verse 3 above is referring to John the Baptist who came a few months ahead of Jesus and baptized and told of his coming. John the Baptist was similar in appearance and character to Elijah.

v5 "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." See also Exodus 16:7 Luke 2:10

Perhaps, some of these passages are why Israel did not understand the coming of Jesus. I am sure they expected him to set up his kingdom, his fleshly kingdom, then and there. Jesus, though, had the whole world in mind and set up a different kingdom, one of the heart so that all could come. He will be back to set up an earthly kingdom and rule from Jerusalem.

v10 "Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him."

I am unsure how to explain this, let me try. Not the verse but the mission of Israel and that of the Savior.

I've said in previous studies (many times) that Israel was like a pregnant lady carrying the promise down through the ages so that Jesus could be born at the appropriate time. He was born of a virgin, yes, but the promise was established with Israel. For them firmly, but also for the whole world, As Abraham was told that in him all nations would be blessed.

v11 "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."

Then we are told of his greatness. It would require God, that such a system of worship as was established with Moses on the mountain could be set up. It would require God, to fulfil such a worship system and bring a new and better system. As the original system required blood sacrifices, the new system would require a blood sacrifice but a pure one and greater than all those offered. A sacrifice that could be offered ONE time only and be sufficient. Jesus was that sacrifice.

v21 "Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?"

They should, by now, understand that there is but one God. But the mystery of salvation by the cross of Calvary was not understood. Isaiah left the explanation of this mystery off, although we can understand it now.

I Peter 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;"

I Peter 2:24 "Who (speaking of Christ) his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."

I think of this ministry of Jesus in the same vein as the ministry of Israel. Let me explain. Israel had a purpose and an ultimate destination. They were to honor one God amidst a world that worshipped many gods. Israel was on a journey to the time when Christ the Messiah would reign over them and they would again be great as with King David. Jesus was headed to that same destination, to glorify his Father and to set up his kingdom. He did it differently than was expected by Israel but being king, he can do things differently. The king does not have to tell all his plans to those he rules. Jesus went to the cross to fulfill the requirement of the law for a sacrifice. He made things better than under the law. He is still on his way to reigning in Jerusalem but he choose to include all of us under the offer of grace through faith in Him. Jesus was often on his way someplace but stopped along the way to help someone sick or blind or in need. It did not hinder his goal to stop and help.

I'm sure I did not explain myself well but I gave it a shot.

v31 "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

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