The Prophecy Concerning the Voice in the Wilderness
Text: Matthew 3:1-17
John the Baptizer was identified as “the voice in the wilderness”. In order to appreciate the significance of this phrase, we would need to check the prophetic reference in its full context.
‘”Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’
Says your God.
‘Speak comfort to Jerusalem,
and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned:
For she has received from the
Double for all her sins.’
The voice of one crying in the
‘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
The crooked places shall be made
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the Lord shall be
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’ ”
A MESSENGER FROM THE LORD
John’s ministry was ordained by God Himself. The Gospel of Luke described the birth of John the Baptiser as “miraculous”. His parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth, were already at that age when it would have been physically impossible for them to produce a child. Nevertheless, God gave them a baby who was destined to be the forerunner of the Messiah.
Much more than the miraculous birth of John was the fact that he would be the chosen mouthpiece of the Lord! He was born to fulfill the ancient prophetic word of God. “The mouth of the Lord” had indeed “spoken” and that word would be fulfilled!
A MESSAGE FROM THE LORD
This special messenger would have a great task to perform. His ministry would be to preach the Word of God to prepare hearts to receive the Messiah. Of necessity, he must preach that all must repent of their sinful ways! How else can a person receive God in his heart? How can a sinful man stand before a holy God?
In ancient days, when a Great King wanted to visit a place, every care was taken to ensure that the road was made even. All “valleys” must be filled so that the ground is level. All “mountains and hills” were to be “brought low”. Naturally, “crooked places” would be made “straight”. And of course, “rough places” would be “made smooth”.
If this was done for an earthly king, how much more a Divine King. The symbolism employed is quite clear! The ground must be prepared for the Great Messianic King to walk on! John was the forerunner whose task was to run before the coming of the Great King. Sins must be dealt with. Repentance was the means of levelling the ground before the coming of the Messiah-King!
A MESSAGE OF COMFORT
John the Baptizer is sometimes caricatured as a “fire and brimstone” preacher. This is how some have misrepresented the preaching ministry of John the Baptizer. Yes, he preached a powerful message of repentance. But that does not mean that his message was condemnatory! The prophecy in Isaiah teaches us that his message was one of hope and mercy. It was a message of comfort! To preach repentance was to proclaim hope, for it suggests that God would indeed forgive when one repents! If there were no room for repentance at all, then the message would be one of doom! John cried out to Israel to turn to God! The Kingdom of God was near at hand. The gate into that Kingdom was humble and sincere repentance from sinful ways!
A MESSAGE ABOUT THE GLORY OF THE LORD
It had been a long time since the glory of the Lord was manifested to Israel. In the days of Moses, the glory of the Lord was constantly revealed. However, Israel had not appreciated the Glory of the Lord.
The Book of Ezekiel described the sad departure of the glory of the Lord from Jerusalem (Cf. Ezekiel 1-11). No more would Israel see the glory of the Lord in the Temple. The sins of the people had grieved the heart of the Lord and He had withdrawn his glory.
However, there was a glimmer of hope found in Isaiah’s prophecy! John was to proclaim “the glory of the Lord ‘would’ be revealed.” And all flesh should see that glory of the Lord!
Surely the Apostle John was correct when he wrote.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among
us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the
only begotten of the Father, full of grace and
When Jesus performed His first sign-miracle, John once again wrote about the glory that was manifested.
“This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of
Galilee, and manifested His glory…”