Summary: If we are to be ready for the coming of the Lord, we must listen to the voice...
Sermons for Christmas CCCH 11-30-97
A. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man were all getting ready to meet the wonderful Wizard of Oz.
They had been following the Yellow Brick Road for some time now in search of this great man who was the only one who could help Dorothy get back to Kansas. And now, with the prospect of meeting him in just a few moments, they had to become presentable. Preparations had to be made in their appearance, if they were to stand before the Great Oz.
B. Dorothy and her friends had been travelling in search of this powerful presence. But in our text today, the King is coming to visit us!
READ: ISAIAH 40:3-5 (p. 714)
The prophet Isaiah hears a voice. He doesn’t say from where or from whom – only that there is a voice- that of an unnamed messenger crying out. The voice tells us about the coming of the Lord.
C. THESIS: If we are to be ready for the coming of the Lord, we must listen to the voice.
TRANSITION: As we listen today to this voice, let’s examine some of the basic questions one might ask about it. Where, why and what. And as we do this, we will understand its message to us today.
I. WHERE THE VOICE IS HEARD
A. We hear it in the desert.
1. The Israelites were familiar with the desert or wilderness areas that bordered their nation on two sides.
2. Quite often the word “desert” in the Bible does not simply refer to a geographic location, but to some aspect of the desert itself and the effect this land has on people (Intl. Standard Bible Enc., vol. 1, p. 928).
The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. King David fled into the desert from King Saul. Jesus was tempted in the desert.
3. The desert is a barren and terrifying place where people cannot live easily.
It’s a dry place, where water is rarely found and people grow thirsty. It is lonely, sometimes characterized by a solitude that is threatening and frightening. It’s desolate, often used to symbolize the desolation that has come upon the nation of Israel because of her sin.
B. The desert times in our lives are dry and barren, but the voice calls to us where we are.
You may feel like today that you are in the desert. The desert of your life may feel like a spiritually barren wasteland. Your soul is dry and parched. You are weary and thirsty – in need of living water. You may find yourself living consistently without taking any significant time for prayer – maybe 3 or 6 months or even a year or more have gone by since you’ve really prayed or even read your Bible. You’re in the desert.
Or maybe you feel like you’re in the desert all alone. Wandering around trying to find your way home. At times it’s a frightening place – a place that’s difficult for you to live on your own – and where is God? The climate of your life is extreme – intense heat and pressure by day – bone-chilling icy cold by night.
Maybe your heart is a place of desolation. Your sin has destroyed any signs of spiritual life. You may feel dead, lifeless, numb. Like you’re in the desert.
Or maybe you feel like you live in a world that is threatening and frightening. You live the best you can for Jesus Christ, but the world around you seems barren and desolate. You live or work in the midst of a desert. Signs of spiritual life are pretty hard to find anywhere around you.
And yet the voice cries out. To you and to me. In the desert. In the wasteland. Where it’s dry. Where we’re tired. Where there is little sign of any life. Where we feel abandoned. Where we feel distant. Where we feel lost or discouraged or confused. Where we’ve secluded ourselves. Where we’ve withering away. The voice cries out. “Hey, you!”
It scares us. It surprises us.
1. And the startling sound of the voice crying out reminds us of God’s unfailing love.
2. He wants to take up residence in our lives once again!
TRANSITION: Where do we hear the voice? We hear the voice in the desert. That’s where we hear it. Next we need to ask why? Why does the voice cry out?
II. WHY THE VOICE CRIES OUT
A. We have to make some preparations
1. The language in Isaiah 40:3-4 pictures a representative being sent ahead to prepare the way for a visiting king.
2. A giant road must be made, obviously not in the Chicago area – it says a road which is completely clear of any obstacles, letting nothing stand in the way. (read v. 4) – A super highway just for God!