Prepare the Way

Do you have a doomsday castle? A bunker of food and supplies for you and your family, should the world run out, or come unhinged? The Bible tells us our world will one day come to a close and that we need to be ready. As believers, we are closer to this than ever before. This has led many in our world to become “preppers.” People who are storing up for a time forthcoming. How many of you or your parents bought extra for Y2K?

Arriving at the Gospels, readers are told to prepare the way for Jesus. (Matthew 3:1-17) So, are you ready for the kingdom of God to come? Matthew 4 reveals how we can be ready. Remember, Matt does not record anything about Jesus’ childhood, rather he picks up when Jesus is 30 years old (Luke 3:23). He writes: In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea (3:1). Understand God has been silent for 400 years. Now He’s speaking through John the Baptist. John is born to Zacharias and Elizabeth when they are well past child-bearing age (Luke 1:7). John is somehow related to Jesus, a cousin through their mothers and is about six months older than Jesus (Luke 1:36). John is considered to be the last of the Old Testament prophets and the only prophet who lives to see the Messiah. 

This week, we want to learn how we can Prepare the Way of Christ. Join me in becoming a herald for our soon coming King. Why not take time today to prepare your testimony. Get it down to about 2 powerful minutes of how God has worked in your life, and get ready to share. Then begin praying about who God would have you tell your amazing story.


Waiting

Expect Indefinite Waiting (Matthew 2:19-23). Those may not be the words you want to hear today, but when we wait on God, we never know for how long. I have a friend who was a language specialist. Her dream, to teach on the mission field. She linked up with the SBC and got ready, papers filed, support raised, and immunized. She let go of her teaching position, her home, sold and gave away all of her stuff. With two weeks to go her life was reduced to two large suitcases. Then days away, she got the call, now is not your time. Waiting. You may be waiting in one of life’s waiting rooms. Waiting like Leroy for strength, waiting for a lower cancer count, waiting for children to own their lives. We all wait in this life and often times the seems indefinite. Joseph was waiting to return home, but not before Herod finally dies. After his death, an angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph in Egypt (2:19). Listen to what the angel tells Joseph in Matthew 2:20~Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead. (ESV)

If the Lord spoke those words to you today, would you be ready? Ready to move into the moment of His in-breaking. Are you actively waiting on God? God offers us some insight for what active waiting looks like in Exodus 12:11~These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the LORD’s Passover. (NLT)

I am concerned church, that some are not ready to move when God says go. There will not be any time to get prepared for the moment of 1 Corinthians 15:52~in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (ESV) There is a plan for our world, there is a plan for your life. God has brought each of us here to ask the question.

Our Takeaway: A you living with Expectation? Jesus is coming back for a bride who has oil in their lamps (Matthew 25), a bride without spot or blemish (Ephesians 5:27). It was six months later, my missionary friend got the call. She tried to tell them she was not ready, she told the Lord I don’t have anything prepared. The Lord responded, I know, now you’re ready to trust me. Wait for the Lord to move, and be ready when He does. When doing God’s will expect to be led Incrementally, Saints we are going to receive Strong Opposition, and our waiting may seem Indefinite. But Solomon said it best in Proverbs 3:5-6~Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (NIV) As we come to the end of our week, if you need some oil for your lamp, have a blemish that needs to be removed, or perhaps your path needs a little straightening, why not talk to God, He is as close as a prayer. By asking, you can receive from Him with liberality.



Be Strong

Expect Strong Opposition (Matthew 2:13-18). After the wise men leave, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream Matthew 2:13~…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him. (ESV) Again notice the angel says, the child, not your child, Jesus is the Son of God. The angel also tells Joseph to stay in Egypt until he tells him to return because Herod is seeking to kill. This young family, having been through so much, heads out on a 75-mile journey. If you have ever asked why this way, why Egypt? It was to fulfill a prophecy of Hosea 11:1~When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. (NIV)

I bet each of us has been called out of Egypt a time or three. It began as a place of blessing and provision, before turning to problems or even slavery. Jesus Christ was born in an any man condition that every man could relate to the life of faith. Hebrews 4:15~For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (ESV) How many of you know that the enemy of our soul, our adversary the devil cannot stand it when God’s plan and purpose are fulfilled. Herod flies-off-the-handle enraged that the wise guys, those Magi, duped him. In his fury, he sends his soldiers to kill all the male babies two years old and younger in and around Bethlehem. Herod’s not alone in his rejection of Jesus. The chief priests, scribes, and many other Jews in Jerusalem have heard and known about the Magi’s message. Yet, none feign any interest. Jesus comes to save His people, Jews, who do not want Him. John 1:11~He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (ESV)

To explain that Herod’s atrocities fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15 Matt writes in 2:17-18~A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted because they are no more. (ESV) Originally referring to the weeping of the nation as a result of the slaughter of their children at the time of Babylonian captivity in 586 BC. The parallel is obvious to Matt’s Jewish audience who witness the slaughter of their own children again, by non-Jews. In Old Testament times, Ramah was a small town about five miles north of Jerusalem. It was on the border of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. It was the place where Jewish captives were assembled for deportation to Babylon (Jeremiah 40:1). 

Rachel, was the wife of Jacob, renamed Israel, as is considered the mother of the Jewish nation. Her tomb was near Bethlehem. Rachel weeping for her children represents the weeping of all Jewish mothers over the fate of their children, and it foreshadows the mothers in Bethlehem weeping over the massacre of their children by Herod. When doing God’s will, expect God to lead in Incremental steps, and we can expect Opposition to be strong from our world.
 
Is there a place of opposition in your life that needs some extra prayer? Why not take time today
to ask God for His help, wisdom, and guidance.