Luke 3:1-6 (ESV)
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
Even though only Isaiah 40:3-5 is quoted here, the whole chapter is invoked. It begins with:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 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. – Isaiah 40:1-2
It ends with:
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:30-31
Isaiah 40 was written to Israel in exile, and it foretells their return. But there’s something more here, something significant. Isaiah 40 just oozes anticipation of a personal visit from God.
Passages like these in Isaiah 40 are why Israel was so keen on the coming messiah. Read it all to capture the feeling.
John is heralding something everyone has been anxiously waiting for.
Have you ever waited a long time for a prayer to be answered? Are you still waiting for one? God’s timing can be frustrating. That’s because we’re impatient.
Patience is an advanced skill well worth learning. If you have a long-standing prayer request, revisit it and spend some serious time praying about it and seeking the Lord’s will. Pray long enough that the subject wanders a bit. We ask for the wrong thing more often than we realize. Longer prayers often reveal this – as the Holy Spirit takes over.
This is a lot harder than it sounds, for a curious reason. Our sinful nature often objects to the redirection. If you start praying for someone’s illness and your prayer gets redirected, it can scare the daylights out of you. You won’t like the implications. You won’t be sure where it came from. You’ll doubt everything.
But if you can hang on tight and not flee this, you can learn great things – possibly even patience.
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