And Israel has every reason to believe. They have the Scriptures, the doctrines, the promises, the covenants and even the Messiah. But God in the end will be faithful, faithful to that covenant and there will come a time when He takes Israel back, separated but not divorced, and He'll take that Look at chapter I have to give you this.
Verse 14, now if you were in Israel and you just heard thirty-nine chapters of judgment and you heard judgment pronounced by other prophets who were contemporaries of Isaiah and even some before and after his time, if you heard nothing but judgment, you might say what verse 14 of chapter 49 says, "But Zion," again a I mean, my goodness, we've had all this judgment pronounced on us and that's the end of that, the Lord has turned His back on us, and the Lord has forgotten us. And here's God's answer, quoting Him, verse 15, "Can a woman forget her nursing child? Secondly, neither will your body.
That's the perfect illustration. You can't forget you're nursing.
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness - Steps to Life
No it's not possible. Well even if they could forget, I wouldn't forget. God says, "I'm not going to forget, I'm not going to forget My covenant. I made a covenant with you and I will keep that covenant. That is the part of the human body which you see most often. There are parts of yourself that without mirrors you would never see, but the palm of your hand is what you see most in just the tasks of life.
And right there, most visible, God says I have you down in indelible, permanent ink. I won't forget you. There's no way I would ever forget you. Chapter 51 again is reassuring about this. You really want the Lord, you want Him?
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You want salvation? Go back to the covenant God. Look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave birth to you in pain. When he was one I called him, when there was only one, only Abraham and only one child, only Isaac, the nation, the covenant was established with that one man, Abraham, and that one son, Isaac. The covenant was established that will Verse 3, indeed, for real, "The Lord will comfort Zion and the Lord will also comfort her waste places, and the wilderness He'll make like Eden and the desert like a garden of the Lord and joy and gladness will be found in her and thanksgiving and the sound of a melody.
And the whole topography of the globe will be changed in the Messiah's kingdom. He says in verse 4, "Pay attention to Me, oh My people. Give ear to Me, oh My nation, for a law will go forth from Me and I will set My justice for a light of the peoples, My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth. Go to chapter 54, this similar note, "Fear not, fear not for you will not be put to shame. Living under the oppression of pagan Romans was an embarrassment and a humiliation to them, worse than any other.
Verse 5, "For your husband is your maker whose name is the Lord of hosts and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel who is called the God of all the earth, for the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit and like a wife of one's youth when she's rejected, says your God. Verse 7, "For a brief moment I forsook you but with great compassion I will gather you.
How can How can people think that there's no future for Israel? And then in chapter 55 these familiar words in verse 6, "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He's near, let the wicked forsake his way, the unrighteous man his thoughts, let him return to the Lord, He'll have compassion on him and to our God for He'll abundantly pardon. You want the salvation I offer? You want the comfort I offer? You want the consolation and the encouragement? Repentance, the same thing John preached. John is such a perfect fulfillment of this prophecy. He's not just a voice in the wilderness.
He's a voice in the wilderness announcing the Lord is coming. He's a voice in the wilderness announcing the Lord is coming, get ready. He's a voice in the wilderness announcing the Lord is coming, get ready by repenting and God will forgive you. And then in verse 12 He says, "You will go out with joy and be led forth with peace. How can You do this, God?
How can You just forgive disobedient people? Well verse 8, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. But this is what I will do. And so, the call of Isaiah 40 is to anybody who ever speaks to Israel. Tell them this.
The burden of sin is great, the punishment has been severe, but it's not forever and it's not the end of the story. Tell everybody who ever talks to Israel that God offers them comfort and forgiveness; if they will call on Him, forsake their evil ways, seek Him, turn to Him, He will have compassion and abundantly pardon. So what was John's job?
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He comes, he says, you've been under judgment, you were under judgment by the Babylonians, then you were under judgment by the Medo-Persians, then you were under judgment by the Greeks who desecrated your temple. Now you're under the judgment of God, executed at the hands of the Romans. You're even feeling the judgment of God by the corruption of Annas and Caiaphas and the whole apostate form of religion. You've suffered a long, long time but John's message is this, "The Lord will come.
In fact, He's nearly here. To recognize their sin, and what? And repent. It's the very same message that Isaiah gave. John fulfills the whole picture of Isaiah's prophecy. So whenever you talk to Jewish people, tell them, yes, the punishment has been great because the sin has been great. But that's not the end of the story. You are still God's people. He is still your covenant God and He offers you comfort and forgiveness and the fulfillment of all the promises if you repent and receive His salvation. And then John would point, "And there's the salvation, in the Lamb of God who alone takes away what?
So the comfort of God offered in Isaiah 40 is not some sort of repayment for Israel's unjust suffering. Israel's suffering is just. The suffering of all sinners is just. All sinners suffer justly. The comfort of God is not some repayment as if they've suffered unjustly. The comfort of God is simply and only God's unmerited grace, that's what it is. God punished the nation with severity. He will also bring salvation to that nation, to any person who repents.
And one day in the future that nation together will repent. That's the story of Romans Has God permanently set aside Israel? Romans "May it never be," no, no, no, no. Has God cancelled His covenants? No, the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. God will bring salvation to Israel, that's the promise. So the message of Isaiah was this: There's going to be salvation but man isn't going to bring it. There isn't any man who can bring it. But God's going to come and He's going to bring it. But before He comes to bring the salvation, a voice is going to tell you He's on the way, get ready.
John was that voice, saying get ready by repentance, the Lord is coming to bring salvation. People can't help themselves. God has to leave the holy throne room and come into the human realm to provide salvation. I close with this, Isaiah This is just a beautiful picture. Chapter 59 starts, "And behold the Lord's hand is not so short that it can't save. His ears aren't so dull they can't hear. The problem is, your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He doesn't hear. Your hands are defiled with blood, your fingers with iniquity, your lips have spoken falsehood, your tongue mutters wickedness.
No one sues righteously, no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion, speak lies, conceive mischief The next one means they poison and ensnare each other. They hasten to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity. Devastation and destruction are in their highways. They don't know the way of peace.
There's no justice in their tracks. They've made their paths crooked. Whoever treads on them doesn't know peace. This is a mess. This is depravity and this is Judah. We hope for brightness, all we get is gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men. We grope like those who have no eyes. We stumble at midday as in the twilight. Among those who are vigorous we're like dead men. All of us growl like bears, we moan sadly.
Cooing like doves we hope for justice — there is none — for salvation, but it's far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before You and our sins testify against us and our transgressions are with us and we know our iniquities, transgressing and denying the Lord and turning away from our God and speaking oppression and revolt and Justice is turned back and righteousness stands far away and truth has stumbled in the street and uprightness cannot enter. Yes truth is lacking and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. In other words, if you try to do anything good you become a victim of all the people who want to do evil.
There's no way out.
Voice in the Wilderness
This is the human dilemma. This is Israel's own confession in the mouth of the prophet here. Verse 15, in the middle, it says, now, "The Lord saw and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. He was astonished that there was no one to intercede.
Salvation is going to come, it's not going to come from a human, there's no man, there's nobody to intercede, the Lord can't find anybody, there's no one. See, the only way for salvation to happen is for God to bring it. His own arm brought salvation. It shows Him getting dressed in verse He put on the righteousness like a breastplate. This is the incarnation. Put on a helmet of salvation on His head. He put on garments, vengeance for clothing, wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle and said, according to their deeds He would repay wrath to His adversaries and recompense to His enemies, to the coastlands He would make recompense.
Look at verse 20, "And a Redeemer will come to Zion and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," Jews who turn from transgression. Verse 21, "As for Me, this is My what? So God looks and says, I promised to save you but there's nobody that can do it but Me. And so God says I'll come, I'll come and save sinners.
That's what the incarnation was about. John is saying He's here and He's about to begin His work. Are you ready? You can't save yourself but you can prepare your heart for the only one who can save you. Get ready, He's coming. And for us, He's already come, hasn't He? Already died for sinners.
And when you repent, you are forgiven. Someday Israel will do that. Until then, Jew and Gentile alike can do that and do as the Spirit works in their hearts. Let's pray. By the way, before we pray, we didn't even get into the text. Isn't that amazing?
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Of Luke 3, but wait till you see what it means when we talk about the ravines being raised and the mountains being lowered and all that next time. Father, thank You, for the clarity of Scripture, the consistency of Scripture. Thank You for the blessedness of salvation. You'll be faithful to every promise You ever made because that's Your character, that's Your nature.
We long for the salvation of Israel. We long for that day when they look on the one they pierced and are cleansed from sin. May we always preach comfort to Israel, may we tell them always, suffering has been great but sin has been paid for, the Messiah paid for it on the cross, and forgiveness and pardon is available for those who repent. May that message be preached to the Jew and the Gentile.
May many come to faith and salvation for Your glory in Christ's name. Help Grace to You bring important resources like this to people in your community and beyond, free of charge. Here at Grace to You Europe we take our data protection responsibilities very seriously and, as you would expect, have undertaken a significant programme of work to ensure that we are ready for this important legislative change. His parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth, were not able to have children.
And in old age, Zacharias was told by the Archangel Gabriel that he and Elizabeth were going to have a son and that their son would be the Forerunner of Christ, the one who would prepare the way for the Christ to come immediately following. Saint John lived in the wilderness, where he was baptizing people. He was also preaching to the people to prepare the way of the Lord. His voice was solitary, but it was powerful. His powerful voice traveled far and inspired many.
It is filled with danger. Because no matter where we live, we live in a wilderness of sin and uncertainty. All around there seems to be danger and spiritual desolation. A drive down the highway reveals dozens of pornographic billboards, and eavesdropping on almost any conversation and you are bound to hear foul language.
Here is where Saint John serves as a role model to us. Many people were ready to receive Christ because of St. Many came to believe in Christ through his witness. Saint John did not have a good end to his earthly life. He was beheaded—he became the first person to die for Christ. And yet he remains the most honored of the male saints of our church. He is featured prominently in every Orthodox Church, on the icon screen next to the icon of Christ. We are all called to be like St. Our voices are supposed to be heard in the wilderness.
Our voices are supposed to talk about Christ. Like Saint John, we are supposed to live in joyful expectation of Christ coming again in glory. Like Saint John, we are supposed to be undeterred if our message is not heard, or even ridiculed. The next step is to choose a monthly or yearly subscription, and then enter your payment information.
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