Preparing the Way
Christopher B. Harbin
He was just a voice in the untamed wilds of Judea, but a voice crying for preparation and a transformative change. Why is it that we too quickly brush his ministry aside in our quest to get to Jesus? Might we not be short-changing the gospel of Christ for not understanding the importance of the one who came to pave the way for acceptance of Messiah?
John came to prepare the way. He spoke to the Jews of baptism and repentance. Perhaps most interestingly, he called them to return to God! What would a call to dedicated service to God look like in our lives?
What audacity! If there had been one error to cast aspersion on Israel over the centuries, this had been the issue, but it was settled on return from exile in Babylon. It was there the nation had come to understand fully their need to serve Yahweh, and Yahweh alone. They had come back to the land of promise, the land given to Abraham, with the full understanding of their responsibility to serve and worship God without the addition of any idols and fertility cultus in their midst. That issue had long been settled. Then John comes along with his message. It was an affront to Judaism. It was ludicrous! If there was one issue they had finally settled, this was it! They were the people of Yahweh for this first time in their entire history!
Back in the days of Moses, they had served their idols alongside Yahweh. Before Egypt, Isaac' and Jacob's family members had been idolatrous. On leaving the wilderness to enter the Promised Land, Moses felt it necessary to issue the charge to set their other gods aside. Joshua issued the same charge at the end of his ministry, but idolatry remained the norm throughout the period of the Judges. David ushered in a new era, of worshipping Yahweh, but that quickly dissipated under Solomon and his sons, getting worse and worse until the exile. At the time of Jesus, however, this was no longer an issue. The ...
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