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Isaiah 40:1-9                  November 28, 2004

Title: 3 Voices of Isaiah

Typical of last minute Christmas shoppers, a mother was running furiously from store to store. Suddenly she became aware that the pudgy little hand of her three year old son was no longer clutched in hers. In a panic she retraced her steps and found him standing with his little nose pressed flatly against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call, he turned and shouted with innocent glee: "look mommy! it’s Jesus - baby Jesus in the hay". With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, "we don’t have time for that!"

There are many voices clamoring for our attention this holiday season! I have already been receiving many donation requests in the mail
Many that I’m sure are important and legitimate. I have been seeing the ads in the newspapers...Each one has its own voice..."shop here" "buy me" I’ve heard the voice of my wife...When you are going to do this...when are you going to do that...All these voices....all clamoring for my attention...all wanting me to prepare for Christmas in ways that are important to them...
Have you heard any of these voices?

This morning, I would like to amplify 3 voices that are getting lost in the hubbub of holiday noise...These voices are so important....and yet, if we don’t focus on them...we are in danger of not hearing the important message that they are trying to communicate to us.

And all 3 voices can be heard in our text this morning.

Read Text: Isaiah 40:1-9

This is a fascinating passage of Scripture...

First of all, it was a prophetic message for Isaiah and the Israelites in his day...The message for them: God wanted Isaiah and other prophets to share the Good News that the captivity was coming to an end.

God’s deliverance was at hand. Babylonian Exile took the chosen people away from the Promise Land They were taken away from their homes... away from their Temple... where they worshipped God...

The story of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego happened during the Babylonian Exile. And God sends a message through Isaiah, that the time is near... He tells Isaiah to "comfort, comfort My people"

It also prophesies concerning the birth and ministry of Christ...This message to Isaiah prophesies about the coming of John...who is the voice of one crying in the wilderness...and he is preparing the way for the coming of Christ

And, it is also a message for us today in 2004. Let’s open our ears to the voice of the Lord this that we can hear the message He has for us.

Voice #1: This first voice is found in verse 3 "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord...This voice is frequently associated with John the Baptist.
John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus...was to be the voice of preparation for the people of Jesus’ day...they were to prepare for the coming ministry of Jesus Christ...

And how were they to prepare? In Matthew 3:2, John the Baptist says, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" The first step of preparation for the Israelites for release of captivity... was repentance... repentance for allowing idol worship to enter in... repentance for not keeping the covenant with God... to worship Him and Him alone... And so here, around 700 BC, the message is to "repent"...

The first step of preparation for the Jewish people in Jesus day... they were to repent... repent for their sins... repent for attitudes...

And the first step of preparation today, in 2004... we need to repent... If we truly want to enjoy the Christmas season... we need to prepare our hearts... and the first step of preparation is repentance.

We cannot truly enjoy the celebration of Christmas if we have allowed sin to have a foothold in our hearts so today, in our preparation for Christmas we need to examine our hearts and if sin has come in, if bad attitudes have come in, or if wrong actions have come in; we need to repent.

Many people will prepare for the holidays in different ways... Christmas decorations... planning family get togethers...but the most important preparation you can make is to make sure that your heart is right with God and if it isn’t you need to repent.

The world today thinks that we can live with sin in our life and still be a Christian; we can still have a good relationship with Christ without any kind of change of direction or change of heart; but there is a voice sounding off that says, "you must REPENT" you must prepare the road of your heart...
you must do some construction work on the rough places in your soul.

Most people won’t hear that voice...or if they do, they will tune it out...
If you desire to truly be prepared for the Christmas must listen to that voice...and repent.

I find it interesting in Isaiah 40:3, that the voice is quoted as saying,
"IN THE DESERT, prepare the way for the Lord"...Most people put the quotations at, the voice of one crying in the desert, "prepare the way of the Lord" But I find special meaning in the quotations "In the desert"...(NIV)

To me that says that when we are in the desert...when we are spiritually dry...when our soul seems to have turned to dust...that is where we need to begin the preparations for the Lord...preparations that begin by REPENTANCE...and other spiritual preparations.

Do you feel spiritually dry?

Do you feel spiritually unready for the Christmas season?

Do you feel spiritually parched in your soul?

Then that is the exact time and place to begin your preparations!!!

Voice # 2: There is another voice calling out for our attention...It is found in verse 6. This voice is saying, "Cry out" Then Isaiah asks, "What shall I cry?" And the voice basically says, "the things of mankind are just temporary...They don’t really last...But the things of the Lord...they last forever"

Commentators indicate that the voice telling Isaiah to "cry out"... is likely the voice of an angel...If there is ever a time when we need to hear this is now!!!

Our world has become so materialistic...our Christian holidays have become so commercialized...and, now that that economy is starting to come back...
I’m sure that many people are just going to SPEND SPEND SPEND...
this holiday season...

But there is a voice crying out...most people can’t hear it over the crashing pandemonium that has become our Christmas holiday...It is buried under the sounds of cash registers ringing up tons of is buried under the sounds of shoppers fighting over the super sale items...It is the voice saying..."what do you think you are accomplishing?

These things won’t buy you happiness!! In fact, most of these things will break and end up in the return aisle at Wal-Mart...they won’t last...the only thing in this world that lasts...Is God...

Our text says, "the Word of our God stands forever"

This Christmas season, most people will ignore that voice...but deep inside they will realize that they are missing something...they just aren’t fulfilled...
they seem to be lacking something...and they will probably go back out to the department store...trying to buy one last item to fill that hole in their soul...Ignoring the one voice that would lead them to the truth.

Voice #3: There is a 3rd voice...This 3rd voice in Isaiah’s time was Isaiah’s own was his voice telling the people "Here is your God"...It is also the voice of John the Baptist, who proclaimed in John 1:29..."Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world"

But here in 2004, whose voice is it that says, "Here is your God"...whose voice is it that says, "Look, the Lamb of God is here"...Let me read that verse again in our is so beautifully written...

You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!" Isaiah 40:9

Whose voice is that?

It is SUPPOSED to be OUR voice!!! Just like many Choirs may have sung this morning...

"Go tell it on the mountain...over the hills and everywhere...go tell it on the mountain...that Jesus Christ is born!"

We need to lift up our voices...we need to be shouting it from the top of our lungs..."Look, Jesus is here...This is what He did for me...and this is what He can do for you...if you will let Him"

This morning...I’m sure you will acknowledge that you can hear many voices...voices of vendors...stores...newspapers...televisions ads...

We are surrounded by such a racket of competing voices, that we will not likely hear the voices that we need to hear.

The voice of God...calling us to preparation...

The voice of God calling us to repentance...

If you want to enjoy the Christmas season better than need to tune in to that voice...and make sure you are right with the Lord, first thing!

Most people probably won’t hear the voice of the angel telling us that all this STUFF is won’t last...the only thing of lasting what God can do for you...

And that last voice... that last voice is yours...and mine...the voices that we lift in bringing glory to God...can you hear that last voice?

If you can’t hear the 1st 2 voices...that is a problem with your hearing, perhaps this morning, this sermon has served as a hearing aid...amplifying those that you can hear them through the noise...

But if you can’t hear the 3rd voice...that is a problem...not of your hearing....
but of your aren’t speaking out about aren’t speaking out about THE answer for the world’s problems...

Many of probably remember the marriage custom of “Speak now or forever hold your peace.” Well today I tell you to “Speak now or forever lose your peace.”

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