January 7 – 13
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3).
Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 8, 9–13.
“Our work of heralding the second coming of Christ is similar to that of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ at His first advent. We are to proclaim to the world the message, ‘The great day of the Lord is near’ (Zephaniah 1:14). ‘Prepare to meet thy God’ (Amos 4:12). We are to do much more than we have yet done.” Reflecting Christ, 201.
1 HOPE FOR THE DESPONDING
- What is one of the most beloved messages Isaiah was ever directed to pen? Isaiah 40:1, 2.
Note: “The covenant mercy of God led Him to interpose in behalf of His people Israel after their severe chastisement before their enemies. Israel had chosen to walk in her own wisdom and righteousness in the place of the wisdom and righteousness of God, and as a result her nation was ruined. God permitted them to suffer under a double yoke, that they might be humiliated and repent. But in their dispersion and captivity, the Jews were not left in a hopeless state. Encouragement was given them, for through this humiliation they were to be brought to seek the Lord. God gave to Isaiah a message for this people: [Isaiah 40:1, 2 quoted].
“When the Jews were dispersed from Jerusalem, there were among them young men and women who were firm as a rock to principle, men and women who had not pursued a course to make the Lord ashamed to call them His people. These were sad at heart for the backsliding which they could not prevent. These innocent ones must suffer with the guilty; but God would give them strength sufficient for their day. It was to them that the message of encouragement was sent. The hope of the nation lay in those young men and maidens who would preserve their integrity.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1144.
2 A PROPHESIED MESSENGER
- With what description did Isaiah prophesy of John the Baptist? Isaiah 40:3; Luke 3:2–4. In what sense was John to be “a voice in the wilderness”?
Note: “There was a great work appointed for the prophet John, but there was no school on the earth with which he could connect. His learning must be obtained away from the cities, in the wilderness.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1115.
- What enabled John, like Isaiah and Elijah before him, to stand fearless before the people in carrying out his lifework? Isaiah 33:17; 6:5.
Note: “John did not feel strong enough to stand the great pressure of temptation he would meet in society. He feared his character would be molded according to the prevailing customs of the Jews, and he chose the wilderness as his school, in which his mind could be properly educated and disciplined from God’s great book of nature. In the wilderness, John could the more readily deny himself and bring his appetite under control, and dress in accordance to natural simplicity. And there was nothing in the wilderness that would take his mind from meditation and prayer. Satan had access to John, even after he had closed every avenue in his power through which he would enter. But his habits of life were so pure and natural that he could discern the foe, and had strength of spirit and decision of character to resist him.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1115.
“Under the guiding of the divine Spirit, he [John] studied the scrolls of the prophets. By day and by night, Christ was his study, his meditation, until mind and heart and soul were filled with the glorious vision.
“He looked upon the King in His beauty, and self was lost sight of. He beheld the majesty of holiness, and knew himself to be inefficient and unworthy. It was God’s message that he was to declare. It was in God’s power and His righteousness that he was to stand. He was ready to go forth as Heaven’s messenger, unawed by the human, because he had looked upon the Divine. He could stand fearless in the presence of earthly monarchs, because with trembling he had bowed before the King of kings.” Gospel Workers, 54.
3 MAKING THE STRAIGHT HIGHWAY
- How does history’s wise man summarize our fallen human condition? Ecclesiastes 1:15. Nonetheless, what hopeful message was John the Baptist to bring, in harmony with Isaiah’s prophecy? Isaiah 40:4; Luke 3:5.
Note: “Everything that God could do has been done in behalf of man. Every want has been anticipated; every difficulty, every emergency, has been provided for. The crooked places have been made straight, the rough places smooth, and therefore no one will be excused in the day of judgment, if he has cherished unbelief and resisted the workings of the Holy Spirit.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 251.
- In the last days, how are we to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us in ways that we never thought possible? Isaiah 40:5; Luke 3:6.
Note: “The Lord gave him [John the Baptist] his message. Did he go to the priests and rulers and ask if he might proclaim this message?—No, God put him away from them that he might not be influenced by their spirit and teaching. He was the voice of one crying in the wilderness [Isaiah 40:3–5 quoted]. This is the very message that must be given to our people; we are near the end of time, and the message is, Clear the King’s highway; gather out the stones; raise up a standard for the people. The people must be awakened. It is no time now to cry peace and safety.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 410.
“Let those who have special aptitude, work for unbelievers in the high places as well as in the low places of life. Search diligently for perishing souls. …
“Let your light shine forth in such clear, steady rays that no man can stand up in the judgment, and say, ‘Why did you not tell me about this truth? Why did you not care for my soul?’
“Then let us be diligent in the distribution of literature that has been carefully prepared for use among those not of our faith. Let us make the most of every opportunity to arrest the attention of unbelievers. Let us put literature into every hand that will receive it. Let us consecrate ourselves to the proclamation of the message, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God’ (Isaiah 40:3)! … Now is the day of our responsibility.” Counsels on Stewardship, 189, 190.
4 HUMBLENESS NOT TO BE SLIGHTED
- What timeless principle shows how God can crown with success even the smallest efforts of those who are sincerely seeking to promote His cause? Zechariah 4:9, 10.
Note: “The way of the world is to begin with pomp and boasting. God’s way is to make the day of small things the beginning of the glorious triumph of truth and righteousness. Sometimes He trains His workers by bringing to them disappointment and apparent failure. It is His purpose that they shall learn to master difficulties. …
“If they will hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end, God will make the way clear. Success will come to them as they struggle against difficulties. Before the intrepid spirit and unwavering faith of a Zerubbabel, great mountains of difficulty will become a plain; and he whose hands have laid the foundation, even ‘his hands shall also finish it.’ ‘He shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it’ (Zechariah 4:9, 7).” Prophets and Kings, 595.
- Through what means can we cooperate with God to enlighten the inhabitants of this dark planet? Zechariah 4:6.
Note: “The Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 300.
- How does the message we are called upon to bear reflect the first part of John the Baptist’s message? Matthew 3:2; Luke 3:8–14.
Note: “[Matthew 3:2 quoted.] This same message, through the publications from our printing houses, is to be given to the world today.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 139.
4 NONE GREATER THAN JOHN THE BAPTIST
- Explain the goal of John’s teaching. Matthew 3:4–12.
Note: “Christ bore the same message that John bore. [Matthew 4:17 quoted.] But while John preached in the wilderness, Christ’s work was done among the people. That He might reach sinners where they were, He encircled the race with His long human arm, while with His divine arm He grasped the throne of the Infinite, uniting finite man to the infinite God, and connecting earth with heaven.” The Review and Herald, August 15, 1899.
- Which commandment did John present before Herod, and what was the result? Mark 6:17–29. What did Jesus say about John? Luke 7:28.
Note: “Herod was affected as he listened to the powerful, pointed testimonies of John, and with deep interest he inquired what he must do to become his disciple. John was acquainted with the fact that he was about to marry his brother’s wife, while her husband was yet living, and faithfully told Herod that this was not lawful. Herod was unwilling to make any sacrifice. He married his brother’s wife, and through her influence, seized John and put him in prison, intending however to release him. … Soon John was beheaded, through the influence of Herod’s wife. I saw that the humblest disciples who followed Jesus, witnessed His miracles, and heard the comforting words which fell from His lips, were greater than John the Baptist; that is, they were more exalted and honored, and had more pleasure in their lives.” Early Writings, 154, 155.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 What hope does God offer to all who submit to His chastening rod?
2 What should we learn from John’s concern about his surroundings?
3 How can our literature be especially helpful in the times in which we live?
4 Why will God surprise us with His manner of enlightening the world?
5 What are some things we can learn from the life and ministry of John the Baptist?