As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I will send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” 3“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.'” Mark 1:2,3, NKJV
Jesus Christ’s good message picks up immediately with the coming of John the Baptist (“Baptist” because he baptized, not because he attended a Baptist church).
Mark, our writer, prefaces John’s coming with a prophecy thereof. Actually, this prophecy is a conflation of two prophecies and were originally given by the holy men Isaiah & Malachi.
Malachi’s prophecy — quoted in verse 2 of our passage above — is thus:
“Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:1, NKJV
How you choose to interpret this verse may vary. On the one hand, it may be viewed as a dual prophecy, as noted in my Scofield Study Bible. The first portion of the verse — that which Mark quotes — is taken to refer to Christ’s First Advent; the remainder of the verse & further verses of Malachi are taken to refer to Christ’s Second Advent. It is pointed out in the Scofield study notes that often prophets perceived both Advents of Christ, yet not the division between them — the division within which we now live.
Jesus Christ — Proclaimer, Embodiment, and Fulfillment of God’s grace toward man.
Contrariwise, the prophecy may be taken to refer to Christ’s First Advent. God’s messenger — John the Baptist — is sent to prepare the way for the Messenger of the covenant — Jesus Christ, who not only proclaims but truly embodies & fulfills the covenant of grace fixed between Yahweh and man.
It would certainly take further study in Malachi to come up with a better understanding, but right now, I’m leaning on the idea that both interpretations may be correct and complementary. In His First Advent, Jesus Christ came unto the Temple often — after eight days of birth, at twelve years of age, and so on. In His Second Advent, He shall come in judgment.
Suffice it to say that we can know for sure what the first part of Malachi 3:1 refers to — the arrival of John the Baptist — God’s specially chosen messenger — to go before the Messiah, preparing the way.
Isaiah’s prophecy went something like this:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3, NKJV
That declaration is found at the beginning of one of the most prophetically rich portions of all of Scripture, Isaiah 40-56. Throughout out, Isaiah speaks of Israel’s exile and her deliverance through Cyrus. But Isaiah looks ahead even further, toward a promised Servant sent by Yahweh who would forever settle the problem of sin, finally & eternally bringing light into the world.
And this Servant is to have a forerunner, a person sent to prepare the way for the Servant.
What can we learn about this person from Isaiah’s part in this prophecy?
John was a man of the wilderness.
About the person, we find that he is a man of the wilderness. Here is not a man of worldly renown. This forerunner of the Messiah was certainly not going to be an Armani-wearing televangelist or a megachurch pastor. His venue was the wilderness round about Judea.
And from there he was crying — not weeping by any means. Strong’s lexicon gives the word translated as “crying” — — the meaning of “to halloo.”
John came shouting!
If you, like me, have no idea what on earth hallooing is, it connotes shouting.
Apparently being a soft spoken, quiet, perhaps even effeminate sounding man wasn’t suitable for the forerunner of Messiah. As Dr. John Gill notes in his commentary, that John came shouting emphasizes “the austerity of the man, the roughness of his voice, the severity of his language; that he called aloud and spoke out, openly, publicly, and freely; and that he delivered himself in preaching with a great deal of zeal and fervency.”
Oh that every preacher would cry out with “severity of language” — “openly, publicly, and freely”!
But what was John shouting? What was all the fuss about?
He was to prepare the way of the coming Lord. Just as the Secret Service goes ahead of the President to clear the way — preparing any who may be present for the arrival of the President, removing any obstacles and overcoming any difficulties which may impede his arrival — so too did John the Baptist set things in motion for the coming of the Lord.
But how did he do this? What was he shouting that possibly prepared anyone?
I’ll get into more in discussing Mark 1:4, but for now let’s just say that John the Baptist came preaching repentance. Turn, turn, turn from your wicked ways! Cast aside your idols. Cast aside your doubts. Prepare ye your hearts for the arrival of Messiah! I really like what Dr. Gill says about this message in his commentary on Matthew 3:3: “The Lord whom ye have sought, the Messiah whom you have expected, is just coming, he will quickly appear; prepare to meet him by repentance, and receive him by faith, relinquish your former notions and principles, correct your errors, and amend your lives, remove all out of the way which may be offensive to him.”
John came preaching
prosperity wellness self-esteem your best life now love the sinner, hate the sinrepent!
Are you prepared to meet the Messiah? Are you prepared to enter into His kingdom? Repent! Cast off that which offends Him!
Oh how the face of Christendom would be changed were this message as fervently preached today as it was by the great baptizer!