Advent Devotion for December 16
In lighting the candle, the candle lighter says: “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!”
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 40:3-8
3 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!
4 Fill in the valleys,
and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves,
and smooth out the rough places.
5 Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
The Lord has spoken!”
6 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.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.”
SCRIPTURE: John 1:19-27
19 This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” 20 He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.”
21 “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?”
“No,” he replied.
“Are you the Prophet we are expecting?”
22 “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”
23 John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”
24 Then the Pharisees who had been sent 25 asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?”
26 John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. 27 Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.”
SOME THOUGHTS: Time after time in Scripture we see of God’s great patience with his people. The first couple of verses of this Isaiah passage speak of God’s tenderness, which we addressed a couple of days ago. Our God woos, encourages, exhorts, confronts, comforts, and expresses his love in many, many ways. He does not force his people’s will, but encourages them to walk in his path. God always honors all people’s freedom to choose. In the above passage from Isaiah, something changes between verses two and three. An announcement is made concerning the coming of the Lord. Then Isaiah proclaims the shortness of life over and against the eternal word of God. Jesus is that eternal Word. The unfolding of God’s purpose and plan has no time limit. The word of our God stands forever. John the Baptist trumpets the onset of Jesus’ public ministry, fulfilling this prophecy of Isaiah. Unlike the Older Testament, now God is coming in person, in the flesh; he is coming, revealing his glory, which everyone will see. The Jewish leaders sensed something different about John’s message. The subtleness of the Old Testament was gone. John came to proclaim loudly and clearly “the Messiah is here!” Did you notice that the leaders themselves did not come, but sent someone to inquire on their behalf? They chose to view this new message from a safe distance. There are people just like that today who are curious about Christianity but want to keep a “safe distance” initially. Do you know someone like that? Perhaps today you’ll have the opportunity to help “clear the way in the wilderness” in telling them the good news. And we for sure are surrounded by those living in a wilderness!
PRAYER: O Holy Spirit of God, visit now this soul of mine and tarry within it until eventide. Inspire all my thoughts. Pervade all my imaginations. Suggest all my decisions. Lodge in my will’s most inward citadel and order all my doings. Be with me in my silence and in my speech, in my haste and in my leisure, in company and in solitude, in the freshness of the morning and in the weariness of the evening; and give me grace at all times to rejoice in Thy mysterious companionship; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. — John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer, p.89