A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

The Advent season is a time of anticipation, waiting, and preparation. During the month of December, Time With God will break from its regular format to explore selected passages and characters connected with the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us. 


It was understood among the Jewish people in Jesus’ day that, before the Messiah (Savior) would come, a messenger would come to prepare the people for the Messiah’s arrival. They understood that it would be the reappearance of their prophet Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. Many Jews today set a place for Elijah at their tables during important holidays, in anticipation of the one who would usher in the coming of the Christ. They wait still, having missed both the coming of the promised Messiah and the promised messenger.


Old Testament References:

Isaiah 40:3-5

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Malachi 3:1

3:1 “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; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 

New Testament Fulfillment:

Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
    ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight,’”

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew 11:7-10

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A mandressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet?Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Mark and Matthew make it evident: John the Baptist was the promised messenger, the fulfillment of a prophecy given some 680 years before the birth of Jesus. And the Gospels of John and Luke join in, too. All four Gospels declare that John was the promised messenger who would prepare the way for Christ. It’s as if they are pleading with the people of Israel to see the signs that Jesus is the Promised Savior.

Some in Israel understood and believed, rejoicing in the arrival of Jesus the Messiah. Some still wait. They have missed the messenger, and keep an empty chair at the table some 2,000 years later. What could be sadder than to wait and hope for a message from God, only to miss or deny the messenger when he appears? Don’t miss it. And remember that God keeps his word.

  • Thank God for the ministry of John the Baptist, and thank God that he keeps his promises.
  • Ask God to give you eyes to see the signs of God’s love and mercy all around you and in his Word during this final week of Advent.