Summary: The desert becomes a place of listening for those preparing to serve God. In the desert John would prepare the way for the Messiah (God). In our own deserts we must hear the voice of God in our preparation to serve him.

1. [At this time of year there is a clamor of people wanting out attention – advertisers; children and presents; adults and presents;

2. In the midst of all of the noise around us, God is also seeking to be heard

[In Wizard of Oz – Dorothy, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow journey to Oz to meet the Wizard to get help with their needs; the Bible reminds us that GOD has come to us offering his help in the midst of our needs – Adam and Eve in the Garden; Mount Sinai; a manger in Bethlehem

3. Isaiah 40.1-9

4. A Prophetic Message of Comfort

a. In regards to foreign captivity – Assyria and Babylon

b. Coming of Messiah and his forerunner

5. Essene at Qumran and other places

a. Went into desert places as a place for preparation and service to God

b. Studious – “round the clock” studies of Torah and writings

c. Opposed to corruption of Sadducees in temple; priesthood; ungodly gain of wealth; ungodly compromise with pagans (Romans appointed High Priests – bribery)

6. Hear the Voices:

I. The Voice of Comfort (1-2)

A former police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department - Bob Vernon - tells of how the Department would demonstrate to rookie officers the value of the bullet-proof vests they’d be issued. The vests were placed on mannequins and then officers would fire round after round into the vests. The rookies were asked to check to see if any of the rounds had penetrated the vests.

Invariably the vests would pass the test with flying colors. Vernon would turn to the rookie officers and ask, “So who wants to wear a vest and let us test how it works on you? No one ever volunteered.”

Why? Because it’s one thing to “say” I have faith. It’s quite another to actually act on that faith.

Yet God tells us to trust him in the midst of the dangerous world.

A. The Message of God Dealing with Sin

1. Sin is missing the mark

2. Isaiah reminds us of consequences – “DOUBLE”

B. The Message of the Forgiveness of Sin

1. Illustrated in Yom Kippur

a. Two goats – one sacrificed in the temple after laying on of hands and confession of sins

b. Scapegoat sent into wilderness with scarlet cloth tied to it; flagged with white flags as it journeyed to the wilderness (Isaiah 1.18)

c. Sent into wilderness towards Mount of Olives

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,

so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

13 As a father shows compassion to his children,

so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103.11-13

2. Yeshua (Jesus) – one time sacrifice – Hebrews 9.11-14

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

II. The Voice of Compliance/Preparation (3-8)

The movie “Cool Runnings” was loosely based on a true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics.

In the movie practically everyone looked down on their team. Their coach was a disgraced bobsledder who’d been kicked out of the sport for cheating. Their team was a sloppy group of black men from a country which had never seen snow, let alone a bob-sled. And the sled they used was a rebuilt and repainted reject that failed them in the final run.

By all reasonable expectations, they shouldn’t have been able to compete that year. But, because...

• they didn’t cheat

• they didn’t complain

• they didn’t give up…

…because of HOW they ran their race, they gained the one thing that mattered most to them: admiration and respect. (Make note of their battle-cry of “Respect”).

One of the underlying messages from the movie was: there is a right way… and a wrong way to get what you want in life.

A. Prepare for the Coming of the LORD (3)

1. Essenes went to the wilderness for this as “Sons of Light”

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