40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
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.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 40:1–5.
In this series we begin to see the ways of God, how He deals with His people. In this passage we see the prophetic purpose to bring John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Messiah Jesus. But we must see that the birth, coming of John is part of the Consolation of Israel which we will speak much more in this series.
Voice in the Wilderness
What God starts to do is a work, completely unique, yet within all of Scripture this seems to be a theme, reoccurs in many men and women of God. I believe this aspect is a key in the preparation for the full work of Consolation. John the Baptist is born into a priestly family, with a priestly line, yet there came a time when John understood that the new work of God would not come from the Temple, rather it would come via the wilderness. What John identified that if the Consolation of Israel would come from the wilderness, so would the preparation. He decided therefore to separate himself away from the normal expectations of those around him, and go to where he believed God would meet him. He would go where Isaiah prophesied would come this work, starting with the work of God in the wilderness via chapter 35 of Isaiah, and then chapter 40. God seemed to indicate a strong work in the wilderness. It would be so strong that God wanted a miraculous voice to resound from there.
When God is about to do a new work, it seems that those God chooses to birth it through go into a radical lifestyle of separation from, so that they would be separated to. Whilst the Temple work would go on the same, the sacrifices and the ordinances, the Temple, the priests and Levites were oblivious of the changes coming. It seems that as John makes the separation from living in Jerusalem, or the Hill country nearby, as he goes on to the wilderness he is brought into the ministry of the prophet. The Consolation of Israel would not start through the priests but through the prophet. When people begin to leave their pastoral posts, their normal work, to be with God it is an indication that God is about to do something new. And what they are separated to, that is, prayer and prophetic declarations, it will be through these realms that God’s work will come.
Prepare the Way of the Lord
Yes, this prayer work, prophetic seeking, is all part of preparation, and preparation for the Coming of the Lord. It is putting down a roadway from heaven to earth.
This roadway is the Highway for the Messiah. It is so that He can come and take His place. John saw who He would be by the sign God gave him, he would HEAR the Father, would SEE the Holy Spirit, coming upon the Son. The preparation God wants to take us into is HEARING THE FATHER, and SEEING THE DESCENDING SPIRIT upon the Church, the saints. The Consolation of Israel points to the HEARING THE FATHER and SEEING THE SPIRIT upon Jesus declaring His Sonship, contrasting this with the Consolation of the Saints which has the HEARING THE FATHER and SEEING THE SPIRIT DESCEND upon His sons and saints. And when Jesus came out of the water, so He is lead to the wilderness also, where He overcomes the enemy. So the Church, testified of her sonship, her standing before God, so also will overcome the enemy by the Word of her Testimony and the Blood of the Lamb (Revelation 19:10).
John is for the preparation for the 1st Coming of Jesus as Saviour, the Church in the Consolation of the Saints is for the next Coming of Jesus as King. And the preparation for this is now.
The Hearers and Receivers are those of the Church
The people who went out to see John, however they were drawn, either by a glory that appeared there, carrying John’s voice to them, or by way of a stirring of spirit, we cannot be certain. What is certain is the condition of the people, they were ready for a move of God in their midst. They had a thirst, and they sensed something was coming. Many false messiahs and teachers had already stirred up the people, but they saw eventually that these were false, but they did not become discouraged, they kept on seeking in their hearts. They saw how Rome had occupied their lands, they saw political instability, yet all of this to them was indication that SOMEONE was coming, who was to lift their eyes and their expectation beyond earthly solutions to heavenly ones. When John’s voice and ministry drew and emptied the cities to the Jordan, they began to see that what John preached was not based upon earthly state, or freedoms, but rather entrance to a spiritual Kingdom via repentance. The washing of the water of Jordan would be the entry point.
We sometimes try to apply this to the secular world, but this Consolation works comes to the people of faith of the day! The Church of the Day! Which means it applies to the Church of our day…there is coming a new expectation and despite the heresies out there God will create in His people an expectation! SOMEONE is coming, and soon. And that Person is the EMBODIMENT of Consolation in Himself. Even Isaiah 9 says He is the WONDERFUL COUNSELLOR. Prince of Peace. As Church meetings go on week after week, so a “wilderness” is revealed to some, and there is a unseen, invisible preparation taking place. It is a place, where there is no pulpit, no worship band, no platform, no large congregation. Rather in the most unlikely places will He come in Glory to give a sign. The sign is that the Voice of the Father will start to be heard, and the Holy Spirit will descend visibly, on the saints. The “Jordan” represents a demarcation between wandering and possessing. The Church has indeed wandered, but God is inviting, preparing, stirring, to possess the Kingdom as it manifests at His Coming.
And the Glory of the Lord shall be Revealed
In the Consolation of the Saints there is a new John, a new spirit of Elijah, who shall see generations reconciled. God will manifest in two generations together. We ask ourselves if our generation will be the chosen for a mighty work, we err greatly with this thinking. It is not just one generation, as Malachi reveals, it shall be a reconciling and a joining of two generations. Joel 2 also, when the Holy Spirit descends, alerts us to the fact that there are sons and daughters, but also old men and women, so the generations will come together with one vision, one aim, one objective, PREPARE FOR THE LORD’S COMING.
Hebrews 1 says Jesus is the brightness of the Father’s Glory, so when Scriptures speaks of the Glory and all shall see it, they are seeing Jesus. And it is with this vision that 2 generations shall join, each in their role.
John started the process of a great spiritual revolution in his day, where the sanhedrin saw its influence decline, until 70AD when Jerusalem was demolished by the Romans. So in turn, the saints, endued with the Spirit of Elijah, shall set in motion the forces that bring Jesus again, and political powers, religious powers will fall unto His Kingship. It means therefore that Consolation is not just comfort, it is a revolution, a reformation, that lifts us from our depressed and captive nature, bringing us the Voice of the Father to affirm us as sons, and the Spirit bringing us power and the nature of the One who brought us to birth.
In a time of extreme fear, instability, threat of war, threats of disease, it is the Voice of the Wilderness in those clothed with the spirit and power of Elijah, who shall wake up the Church to her end time Mission! That mission is to prepare the Highway for our God!