For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness…
God never acts suddenly. He who sees the end from the beginning never needs to act suddenly, for he never can be taken at unawares. It is easy to grasp this thought when we consider only material things; but it is not so easy when we take account of the complications introduced by the ever-varying human will. Do man's impulsive actions never call for Divine promptitude in response to them? To this we answer - No. God's ommscience is to be thought of as including, as anticipating, every movement of the human will. Illustrate by showing how science has corrected the older notion of the suddenness of creation. We now know that preparing the earth for the probation of man was the work of long millenniums, and was arranged in stages, each one of which prepared the way for the other. The older geology explained many things by the theory of sudden catastrophies; the newer geology traces the long preparations for what takes climactic form at last. So it is prophesied that the Lord shall suddenly come to his temple, but the suddenness is only an outward seeming, a sensible impression; really the long ages prepared for his coming. Then it follows that God must always have servants engaged in preparing work, who never can have the cheer of results; and are always in danger of being misunderstood by others, as accomplishing nothing. God will say, "Well done, preparers!"
I. THINGS THAT SEEM SUDDEN AND ISOLATED ARE ALWAYS ISSUES, AND ALWAYS STAND IN CONNECTIONS. illustrate by the coming of Messiah as prepared for by John and connected with his ministry. Take any event that ever has happened, modern scientific inquiry demands to know where it stands; how it is related; what it has come up out of; by what processes it is arrived at. Our Bible is really the history of the Divine series of preparations; and our very life is only apprehended aright when it is regarded as the preparation for the life to come.
II. THE ADVENT OF MESSIAH SEEMS SUDDEN AND ISOLATED, BUT IT IS AN ISSUE, AND IT STANDS IN CONNECTIONS. This opens a familiar line of thought. Preparations for Messiah are found
(1) in promises;
(2) in prophecies;
(3) in songs of hope;
(4) in historical events;
(5) in preaching demands, such as John's, etc.
The issue of four thousand years of Divine preparation. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.