Your God is Coming

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““Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!” 
The book of Isaiah is kind of a mini bible. The bible has 66 chapters, Isaiah has 66 chapters. The bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament, with about a 400 year gap between the two.
The first 39 chapters of Isaiah, which is before the exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, is very dark, prophesying much on the destruction of Jerusalem and misery to come. The second half of Isaiah, beginning about 150 years later with the above passage of Isaiah 40, begins the story of Israel in exile. It no longer brings prophecies of destruction, but promises of hope. Hope for restoration, Hope for reconciliation, hope for forgiveness, hope for peace.

Like Isaiah before the exile, the Old Testament has 39 chapters. It is the long overarching story of the chosen people of God and their long search for salvation. Salvation from Egypt, salvation from Babylon, salvation from Pharaoh, salvation from war, salvation from empire.
Just like Isaiah, a long period of time went between the Old Testament and New Testament. The Gospel of Mark, despite appearing second in our New Testament canon, was the first Gospel account which was actually written. And Mark began writing the second half of our bible like this –“This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!’ ” This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.

john-the-baptist

The first written Gospel of Jesus identifies that voice in the wilderness from the second half of Isaiah. He is John the Baptist, and he was preaching a Gospel of repentance for the people of Israel. The wilderness John was preaching in was out in the Judean desert by the Jordan River. The same desert God had brought the Israelites through when they came out of Egypt through the red sea, spent their forty long years out in the wilderness, and finally crossed the Jordan into the promised land.
There are long periods of time stretching between the two halves, chapters 1-39 and chapters 40-66 of both Isaiah and our bible. Between the “two Isaiah’s”, chronologically you will find  Jeremiah and his Lamentations. Look at the darkness of the first chapter of Lamentations – Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her…..Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her….This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me….People have heard my groaning, but there is no one to comfort me….

jeremiah
Over and over, the image of Israel in distress, with no one to comfort. No hope. But then we see the “second Isaiah”, isaiah of the exile, arrive on the scene – Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. All of a sudden, we see hope, we see comfort on the way. The people who made the exodus from Egypt, came through the desert, the wilderness. Crossed the Red Sea, came to the Jordan into the promised, all of a sudden they have hope again. What is the source of that hope? Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!”  Finally, after 150 years of being in exile, out in the wilderness again, God is gonna do something!! He’s building a highway out in the desert, leveling the valleys, straightening the curves, smoothing out the rough edges. God is coming right out into that desert!

desert-highway

Think about this – when the Jews wanted to go see John, did they go into town? No, they went out into the desert, into the wilderness by the Jordan River. It had been 400 years of waiting, 400 years of silence from God. But God sent John to be the forerunner of Jesus, to preach a Gospel of repentance, baptizing people in the name of Yahweh out by the Jordan River.
What John was doing out there was this – he was recreating the act of coming out of Egypt, through the desert, crossing the Jordan and into the promised land. Israel was God’s chosen people, but they had strayed off the path, not loved God with their whole, not loved their neighbors, had worshipped other God’s, and wound up in exile. In the wilderness, groaning, suffering, waiting for God to come and deliver them. John was setting up a whole new, fresh Exodus. Let’s go back out to the Jordan, come back into the promised land, start this thing over and get it right.
The problem is this – the people of Israel are just that – people! And in Isaiah 40 we also read this – A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” We are all like grass. The sun shines on us, the wind can come and blow us away. We change our minds, change our appearance, then something will come along and we will change it all over again. Then we will just wither and fade away…but the word of our God stands forever.

beautiful-picture-of-god-jesus-christ
So now…what if the word of our God which stands forever became flesh?? “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” ‭‭John‬ ‭1:14-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The flesh is like grass, it will wither and fade away. The word of God will stand forever. But in Jesus Christ, the word became flesh, full of grace and truth. No one has ever seen God, except his son, the word made flesh, has made Him known. Your God is coming!
Jesus entire life was lived in righteousness, the only sinless one who ever walked. He made God the Father known through Himself. If we want to know what God is like, we look at Jesus. If whatever it is we think about God does not match up with what we see in Jesus Christ, the crucified Messiah, then we need to rethink.

beautiful-pictures-of-jesus-christ_1
Jesus first appearance as Messiah was where?  Out in the wilderness, being baptized by John, having the holy spirit descend like a dove on Him. Your God is coming!
There is a point I am getting to. Sometimes, we meet Jesus and everything is wonderful, the hills are alive with sounds of music and we just can’t get enough of it. These are the good times, take them in and enjoy them. But know that it is not going to last.
Other times, things just seem to dry up. Ever felt that dryness? You pick up the bible, turn to John, and all you are getting is Leviticus. Your prayers are empty, your emotions are spent, and you are just not feeling anything spiritual. That’s when you are out in the desert.

jesus-in-the-desert
It’s you are out in the desert that your spiritual maturity will come. Why? Because it is out I the desert when you will learn that you can’t just rely on yourself anymore. Especially in America, we are all “rugged individualists”. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get after it, don’t we?
But that won’t work in your relationship with God when you are out in the spiritual desert. Out in the desert, you have to depend on other people. People who live in the desert look out for one another. The desert is a place where we really don’t thrive, it’s just about trying to survive.
When you are out in the spiritual desert, you will have to depend on other believers to get you through. We want to make our faith all about ourselves. We think we don’t need anybody else to tell us what to believe, or what and how to pray. We can get this through our own personal revelation from God, all we need is a bible and some alone time, right? Wrong!!
When you are out in a desert how will you find the wells to drink from? You have to rely on someone else to show you the way. Sometimes we just have to rely on the knowledge of people who gave gone before us. Find this in the bible, this is how you pray, this will get you through. We don’t always like it, but then again we never like having to depend on anybody else, do we??
Maybe you are in a desert right now. If not, praise God, amen and hallelujah. But know that it’s not going to last. You will eventually be in the desert. And no, you don’t have to go to the desert – the desert will come to you.

good-news-2
But if you are in the desert, there is Good News. Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. There is a highway being built. Your God is coming!  Because, you see, God always comes to us out in the desert, the wilderness. From the exodus, forty years in the wilderness, through the Jordan and into the promised. From John the Baptist preaching a gospel of repentance out by the Jordan, to Jesus Christ being announced by John as the lamb of God, God comes from the desert.
So if you are out in the desert right now, lean on your brothers and sisters. Allow them to speak life into you, and show you where the wells are. If you try to do it on your own out in the desert, you’re going to die.

promised_land
But also know that a highway is being built. Your God is coming! It is out in the desert that you will build spiritual maturity, if you learn to trust and rely on the knowledge and experience of others and not  your own will and “self-revelation”. Jesus calls us and tells us he’s going “make” us into something. We just want to be “taken” somewhere. He uses our time in that desert to make us more like Him.
So yes, if you are out in the desert, a highway is being built. He’s making straight a path, leveling the mountains and hills. How long before it’s done? Come on, it’s a highway, nobody knows how long it will take!! But it’s being built, and yes Your God is coming! 

“Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies…..Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her. “Look, Lord, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed.”…..“This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed.” Zion stretches out her hands, but there is no one to comfort her. The Lord has decreed for Jacob that his neighbors become his foes; Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them…..“People have heard my groaning, but there is no one to comfort me. All my enemies have heard of my distress; they rejoice at what you have done. May you bring the day you have announced so they may become like me.”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭1:2, 9, 16-17, 21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/lam.1.2,9,16-17,21.niv

““Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!” Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:1-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/isa.40.1-11.nlt

“This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!’ ” This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:1-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/mrk.1.1-8.nlt

John Lewis

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5 thoughts on “Your God is Coming

  1. Amen John. This is funny. I just wrote responded in another post that we all have to spend time in the valley (desert), hers was regarding the mountain tops, for that is where God shapes us, conform us to be more like him. Not at all comfortable, but we know, it is for our good. You are right, we need each other. There are no lone ranger Christians. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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