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A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

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I.       Introduction

a.       The grass withers and the flowers fade… (Isaiah 40:8).

b.      The coming of the Kingdom is preceded by a voice crying in the wilderness.

                                                              i.      This voice informs the Kingdom is near and what one must do to become a citizen of that Kingdom.

II.    The Voice

a.       A proclaimer, a herald

                                                              i.      In ancient times a herald would often precede a monarch to announce his arrival and to call the people to prepare.

1.      Make the roads smooth, fill in the potholes, clean up trash etc.

2.      Isaiah 40:1-5

b.      An non-conforming voice

                                                              i.      John did not fit w/ the wealth & opulence of many religious leaders.

1.      Reminiscent of Elijah

                                                            ii.      His was a call to righteousness, and one would need to make a commitment to heed this call

1.      He called people to a place they would not normally go unless they were serious seekers.

III. The Message

a.       Repent

                                                              i.      His message was that of the King.

1.      The primary message of Jesus (Matt 4:17; Mark 1:14-150

                                                            ii.      The message of the King’s first disciples

1.      Acts 2:38; 3:19; 20:21; 26:20.

                                                          iii.      There is a close connection between repentance and conversion (2 Corinthians 7:10). 

b.      Meaning

                                                              i.      To turn around.  More than a change of mind.

1.      Turn from/Turn to.  Conforming one’s thoughts, deeds and values from those of society to those of God.

a.       It is an acknowledgment that you have been walking in the wrong direction and need to turn around.

                                                            ii.      Becoming more difficult in a culture of moral relativism.

IV. The Purpose

a.       Kingdom of Heaven is near.

                                                              i.      Turn from lives of superficial religion, cheating, lying, lusting, and bitterness.

b.      What is this Kingdom?

                                                              i.      Not a plot of real estate, it is the rule or reign of heaven that is near

1.      It is a reality that manifests itself in a community that accepts the message of Jesus (the King) and begins to work out the King’s purposes on earth.

2.      One needs to prepare themselves for God’s rule & reign

c.       The Kingdom is near

                                                              i.      It is so close that people are now confronted w/ the opportunity and inescapable necessity of repentance and conversion.

1.      The nearness of the Kingdom compels us to take action.

a.       We must either repent or assassinate the King.

                                                            ii.      The King is near

1.      Coming to harvest fruit or burn the unfruitful, bless w/the Holy Spirit or judge w/ fire, to gather the wheat or burn the chaff.

d.      Repent, the Kingdom of heaven is near.

V.    The Recipients

a.       John’s call was a demand for a completely different life.

                                                              i.      This demand was shocking that it included Jews.

                                                            ii.      Baptism was for Gentiles.  A necessity for outsiders if they wanted to members of God’s Kingdom.

b.      To accept John’s message was to realize that national descent, racial heritage, even being God’s covenant people could not save them.

                                                              i.      They also had to repent (forsake their sin), and trust God for their salvation which baptism was a public witness.

VI. Conclusion

a.       After 400 years of God’s silence, He now speaks through His herald that a change is coming.

                                                              i.      That God in faithfulness to His promises is now coming to free people from their bondage, proving the word of the Lord stands forever.

b.      The herald has called them to prepare the path for the King’s arrival and to remove the obstacles that would hinder Him

                                                              i.      Turn your crooked spiritual and moral paths to straight ones that are fit for the King.

c.       Repent

                                                              i.      This includes everyone.  All come into the kingdom the same way, there are no private entrances.

                                                            ii.      “So John came to announce that the kingdom was happening at that very moment.  The living Lord was exercising His prerogatives as King, and demanding that all men everywhere repent” (Phil Newton).

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