Preparing for the Messiah

KEY VERSE: “Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” —Isaiah 40:3


TO PROPERLY understand the prophecy of Isaiah the fortieth chapter, it is necessary to be aware of the time setting. In the preceding chapters the prophet predicts the Babylonish captivity and we believe that he was here, starting with the fortieth chapter, enjoined to give comfort to the Jews in expectation of the great affliction coming upon them. In this prophecy the distress and sorrows of captivity are considered to be past, and the full measure of their punishment extracted. But God through the prophet remembered mercy, and before he sent his people into captivity he furnished them with the support and comfort of the promise of a future deliverance. We can well imagine the comfort and encouragement these rich promises gave to the people of the nation of Israel during the terrible oppression of their captivity.

The promise of the deliverance is also associated with the advent of the Messiah and the subsequent establishment of the kingdom, but God wanted it known that all these preparations were to be accomplished because they are of his design and through his power. John the Baptist, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, identified himself as the voice crying in the wilderness, thus pinpointing the beginning of the time of fulfillment of the prophecy, saying, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Isaiah.” (John 1:23) John is here picturing himself as the instrument the Lord used to proclaim Christ, as the Son of God, the King of Israel, and the Savior of the world. By doing this he prepared the way of the Lord in the midst of the desert, which from the standpoint of God’s Word, was a dry and thirsty land.

The Lord was coming to do these things for Israel in the sense that they would be accomplished through the Messiah, as we read in verse ten of our prophecy, “Behold the Lord will come with a strong hand, and his Arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.” The prophet, in Isaiah 52:9-15, still speaking to Israel and holding forth the promised deliverance and the kingdom, states in part, “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare his holy Arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. … Behold my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. … So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had been told to them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.”

We know that in fulfillment of this prophecy in the fifth verse of Isaiah forty, the Messiah will be revealed first to the nation of Israel. Subsequently the knowledge of him and the promise of the kingdom will be made known to the Gentile nations. (Acts 13:46) The Lord in his foreknowledge knew that these prophecies would not be fulfilled in the way that the Israelites expected them to be (Hos. 2:23), because of their continued unfaithfulness. They knew not the day of their visitation! (Luke 19:42-44) But the Lord’s love and tender mercy for his people, even though it was to be long delayed, was expressed in Isaiah 40:10,11, “He [the Messiah] 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.”

The voice of the Lord with comfort for his people continues in the remainder of the verses of this fortieth chapter of Isaiah, for in them he establishes himself as the great and powerful Creator of the universe on whom his people can rely to fulfill his promises. In Romans 11:34 the Apostle Paul, after he had reviewed God’s dealings with the nation of Israel, quoted from Isaiah 40:13,14 as an expression of his own wonderment and appreciation of the mind and purposes of God. “Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?” “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |