The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare 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 brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
In a current television talent show celebrity judges are facing away from the stage when the contestant begins to sing. When they are impressed by the voice they hear, the judges hit the button that turns them around to face the other direction.
As we prepare for the coming of Christ this Advent season, the Lord would have us listen to the Voice—not a voice on stage, but that special Voice “crying in the wilderness.”
Almost two millennia have passed since that Voice was first heard. Back then the voice of John the Baptist caused many to repent and be converted, facing a new direction for their lives—a direction that led into the kingdom of God.
John the Baptist was rough in appearance, and his ministry was inconveniently located out on the shores of the Jordan River—which didn’t cause people to turn. Neither was it the physical tone or quality of the Voice that caused them to turn around. The turning power was in the message itself, a message which the Lord gave to His prophet as the forerunner to the Christ—a message which John faithfully presented to the people: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
As the people heard “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,’” the Spirit of God worked in their hearts so that many turned away from sin, thus removing obstacles in the way of the coming One.
Twenty centuries later, is this Voice still relevant? As we poor sinners hear the voice of John the Baptist, does the Voice still summon us to turn around? Since we still have the obstacles of “pride and sin lurking within us” (cf. TLH 446:4), it does indeed!
During this pre-Christmas Advent season let us remember that it is not only a time to prepare to observe the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it is also a time to prepare for His other comings to us through the Means of Grace. By the grace of God the Holy Spirit we hear the gospel of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ. Day after day the same Spirit leads us to repent of our sins so that we are “turned around” in our hearts and lives.
It is so easy to become complacent concerning things spiritual as we get caught up in the affairs of this material, temporal life. The influence of the ungodly world on our spiritual thinking can be much more pervasive and invasive than we think.
Let us remember that this pre-Christmas Advent season is not only beneficial for us to continually examine our hearts and lives, for our sinful natures erect obstacles in our relationship to our Redeemer God. It is so easy to become complacent concerning things spiritual as we get caught up in the affairs of this material, temporal life. The influence of the ungodly world on our spiritual thinking can be much more pervasive and invasive than we think. We can become like those who came to hear John but then continued to cling in pride to their own merit and righteousness (cf. Matthew 3:7ff).
We need to hear the Voice—that Voice of the one crying in the wilderness of this world. The Voice calls to us, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2) It calls us to turn away from the world with all its lies and deceptions so that we daily repent of sin and look to Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer.
That Voice encourages us to keep our lives on course for our Lord’s final coming when we shall see Him in His glory—and He shall invite
us to inherit the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of