Psalm 72:1-7 The Voice (VOICE)
A song of Solomon.
1 True God, bestow Your honest judgments upon the king
5 [May the people fear You][a] for as long as the sun shines,
Isaiah 40:1-11 The Voice (VOICE)
40 “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God.
3 A voice is wailing, “In the wilderness, get it ready! Prepare the way;
During the time of Jesus, John the Baptist wanders around Israel in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets warning the people that they need to correct their attitudes and behaviors, to bring them better in line with what God expects and desires. He declares (warns, actually) that God is coming and will set things right. During the circumstances of exile, the people don’t fully understand who or what this voice in the wilderness will be; centuries later, as the early Christian community looks back over the life of Jesus and John, they recognize the anonymous voice.
6 A voice says, “Declare!”
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
Isaiah’s message is not just doom and gloom. God determines that His people may return home to rebuild their lives! God uses the new king, Cyrus of Persia, to accomplish this glorious restoration. God does not allow His punishment to last forever.
Now, in this new time, God smoothes the rocky way between Mesopotamia and all Israel; He makes the deserts between the present place of exile and their home just east of the Mediterranean Sea burst with sweet water and bloom with beauty and good things to eat. Treacherous roads and threatening beasts yield to God’s desire that they return safely.
In chapters 40–55, for the most part, the message is one of comfort and encouragement to God’s downtrodden and discouraged people. Many centuries later, these words will be understood in light of the Anointed One.
9 Ascend a high mountain,
John 1:19-27 The Voice (VOICE)
Before Jesus comes along, many wonder whether John the Baptist might be the Anointed One sent by God. But when Jesus appears in the wilderness, John points others to Him. John knows his place in God’s redemptive plan: he speaks God’s message, but Jesus is the Word of God. John rejects any messianic claim outright. Jesus, though, accepts it with a smile, but only from a few devoted followers—at least at first. Of course John is crucial to the unfolding drama, but he isn’t the long awaited One sent to free His people. He preaches repentance and tells everybody to get ready for One greater to come along. The One who comes will cleanse humanity in fire and power, he says. John even urges some of his followers to leave him and go follow Jesus.
19 The reputation of John was growing; and many had questions, including Jewish religious leaders from Jerusalem. 28 So some priests and Levites approached John in Bethany just beyond the Jordan River while he was baptizing and bombarded him with questions:[a]
Religious Leaders: Who are you?
John the Baptist: 20 I’m not the Anointed One, if that is what you are asking.
Religious Leaders: 21 Your words sound familiar, like a prophet’s. Is that how we should address you? Are you the Prophet Elijah?
John the Baptist: No, I am not Elijah.
Religious Leaders: Are you the Prophet Moses told us would come?
John the Baptist: No.
Religious Leaders: 22 Then tell us who you are and what you are about because everyone is asking us, especially the Pharisees, and we must prepare an answer.
23 John replied with the words of Isaiah the prophet:
John the Baptist: Listen! I am a voice calling out in the wilderness.
24-25 Then some of those sent by the Pharisees questioned him again.
Religious Leaders: How can you travel the countryside baptizing[c] people if you are not the Anointed One or Elijah or the Prophet?
John the Baptist: 26 Baptizing with water is what I do; but the One whom I speak of, whom we all await, is standing among you; and you have no idea who He is. 27 Though He comes after me, I am not even worthy to unlace His sandals.[d]