Friday- Week 2
"A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.'"
Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, I Yesus Church icon- Axum
(credit: Adam Jones)
How would we know Who the Saviour was once His ministry began?
[God promised to send a forerunner, one who would ‘point the way’ to the Messiah.]
The importance and priority of the forerunner’s work was so great that all four gospels quote this prophetic verse.
What were three clues to recognizing this special person?
[He would be somehow associated with the wilderness;*
He was to prepare the way for the Lord;
Make the way straight]
How did John the Baptist fulfill these prophecies?
He was preparing God’s people for the Saviour’s arrival through his preaching (Matthew 3:1);
He was promoting a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins--which served to‘ straighten’ the path back to God’s original intent, which had been twisted by the teaching of the Sadducees & Pharisees. (Mark 1:4)]
*The Judean Wilderness is an area that would be quite familiar to those who lived in Israel. It encompasses the area outside of Jerusalem along the eastern side of the Judean Mountains to the western shores of the Dead Sea. It was a place of refuge for those who desired solitude or to escape the authorities. David hid in the Wilderness from Saul (1 Samuel 24:1), and Jesus spent His forty days of fasting and temptation there (Matthew 4:1-2).
For Further Discussion
As stated in the Mark 1 passage above, John the Baptist "promoted a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin." According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, repent means to "turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life." John was not teaching anything new. Like the prophets of old, he was a living herald that called the nation to admit their sins and turn from them.
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
The goal of repentance is to turn away from or disavow past sins. Note that John was calling the nation to repentance.
Are there things our nation has done that need to be repented of?
Have you ever considered that our nation is being called to repentance?
What do you think that would look like?
Jesus made it clear over and over that the person who would desire to be great in His kingdom must be last...least... a servant...
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant."
As a nation, America has never been great, because America has never repented of its past atrocities in the way it obtained this land, retained this land and sustained this land. Greatness comes through actions that honor God, not ones that dishonor Him.
Have you ever had someone offer a fake apology after wronging you?
[A fake apology starts something like "I'm sorry if I offended you" or "I'm sorry that you..." or "I'm sorry but.."
Here's an excellent guide on how to get it right: 7 Characteristics of a Real, Genuine, Sincere Apology]
What does real repentance looks like? [Real repentance requires action, such as: the repudiating of past wrongs; apologizing to those who were robbed, vilified and ill-treated; making restitution; making reparations --which means repairing a wrong by paying back that which is owed.]
Read Romans 2:5. What is the result of a refusal to repent?
Close in Prayer
In Isaiah 58:4-12, the prophet chides the nation for being a people who fast and pray, yet are quarrelsome and abusive towards their fellow citizens. He tells them that what God desires are people who release the bonds of the oppressed, who share their wealth with their fellow citizens, who stop pointing their fingers and laying blame on others, who pour themselves out for the hungry and afflicted, who stop spreading wickedness and falsehoods with their words. Only then will God renew their nation, restore their families and call them repairers of the breach, restorers of foundations, and help them rebuild the lives of the generations of people torn apart by their nation's apathy and greed.
Lord God, may we be a people who do not just calls ourselves lovers of You, but who are willing to repair the breach and restore that which our ancestors tore down and tore apart.
Make a Joyful Sound!
Choose a song from Songs for Advent- Week 2 or choose your favorite Christmas carol!