The Voice of the Coming Savior Sovereign
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

We will be reading from Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 1:

Isaiah 40

1Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins.
3The 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.
4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
6The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
7The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
8The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
9O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
10Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
11He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

In our last lesson, we began a discussion of chapter 40 of the book of Isaiah, and when we did, we mentioned to you that we were beginning a study of the last portion of the book of Isaiah which is so different from the first portion that people who do not believe in the inspiration of the Word of God think that a different man wrote it than did the man who wrote the first 39 chapters.

We went into detail to show you the impossibility of that. We suggested a number of things to you that we are not going to repeat in this lesson, but in order that we might all be thinking along the same line, we would remind you that the first portion of the book of Isaiah had for its message a message of judgment. The second portion of the book, beginning with chapter 40 and continuing through chapter 66, has for its message a message of comfort.

You will recall that we told you that in the first portion of the book of Isaiah, in chapter 6, we found Isaiah's commission relative to his message of judgment. He heard one voice when he received that commission, and that voice told him that he should be faithful in proclaiming the judgment of God upon a disobedient people and proclaiming the possibility of repentance but that he should keep in mind that nobody would pay any attention to his message. No one would be interested in repenting, and his ministry would very largely be a fruitless one.

As we come to the second portion of the book of Isaiah, the book that is related to a message of comfort, we learned that it is necessary for Isaiah to be recommissioned. He was commissioned the first time for a message of judgment; He is commissioned the second time to deliver a message of comfort.

You will recall that we pointed out to you that instead of hearing one voice, he heard four voices, as his commission was renewed. We looked at the first voice in the last lesson, and we discovered that that first voice was contained in verses 1-2. We labeled it, because of subject matter, the voice of comfort . You will recall that the voice said to Isaiah, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.”

In verse 2, where it says, “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,” we discovered by an examination of the original text that what God actually said to him was, “Speak to the heart of Jerusalem. Speak tenderly, and tell the nation of Israel that her warfare is accomplished.” That is, her time of suffering will be over by and by and her iniquity will be pardoned, for she has received of the Lord's hand double for all her sin.

We pointed out to you that the nation of Israel, the Jews, will not be saved in any different fashion than the Gentile is saved, because all must be saved through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and all must experience the new birth.

We suggested to you that our approach to the Jew should be different than our approach to the Gentile. If you were to approach the average Jew—unless his heart had already been prepared by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit—with a simple appeal to become a Christian, he would be highly insulted, because he would feel that all you were asking him to do was to change religions. But if you understood God's plan and purpose for the Jew and were able to open the Bible in relation to it and show him God's vital interest in him, then he would be willing to listen to the word concerning the Lord Jesus Christ Who is, as we know, the promised Messiah. We must learn to speak tenderly to the heart of Israel.

The Second Voice

Today we are going to look at the second voice, so will you notice with me the second paragraph, which begins with verse 3:

Isaiah 40

3The 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.
4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

We have referred to this voice as the voice of the coming Savior Sovereign , or the voice of the coming Savior King . In the Old Testament, messages related to the coming of the Messiah were never clarified as to the first and the second coming, as they are in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, we discover in I Peter that the first and the second comings of Christ were always mentioned in the same breath, as Peter mentioned them here. In I Peter, chapter 1, he was speaking of what the Old Testament prophet had written. Without reading the verses that come before, we begin in verse 10, and we hear Peter saying:

I Peter 1

10Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

Notice what he said. “The Old Testament prophets prophesied of a tremendous thing, and they didn't understand what they prophesied. They searched diligently to know exactly what they were talking about.” Verse 11:

I Peter 1

11Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

The reason that these Old Testament prophets could write some things that were a mystery to them was that they were being inspired by the Holy Spirit, and they were instruments in His hands. You will notice, concerning that which they wrote, they did not understand it, because they were writing about it before it ever occurred. They wrote about the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. You will see just by looking at this verse that in their minds it was all one event. It was as though they were standing on a great mountain peak, looking out in the distance, and they saw two other mountain peaks. One of them had a sign on it: Suffering . The other had a sign on it: Glory . But because of their vantage point on this mountain, those mountains looked like they were exactly one after the other, side by side. They couldn't see the valley in between, so the Old Testament prophets always wrote of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, not as two events, but as one.

That is the reason, as we go back to Isaiah, chapter 40, I suggest to you that this is the voice of the coming Savior Sovereign, for the two comings of the Lord are mentioned in this verse side by side.

The Hebrew scholars were just as human as you and I. If you have an unpleasant thought, and right beside it you have a very pleasant thought, tell me, upon which one are you prone to dwell. If everything is normal, and you're not an individual given to depression, you are going to dwell upon the pleasant thought and you are going to skim over the unpleasant thought. When the Rabbis of the Jewish nation studied the Old Testament Scripture and they read concerning the suffering Savior and the reigning King, or when they read of suffering and glory, they passed over the suffering hurriedly and dwelt upon the glory. That is the reason when Jesus of Nazareth came, they couldn't believe that He was the Messiah. That is the reason that when Jesus of Nazareth came and declared that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, they accused Him of blasphemy. They were not expecting, of all things, a person from Nazareth. They were not expecting, of all things, a carpenter's son. They were not expecting, of all things, a man who was meek and mild, riding upon the foal of a donkey. They were expecting a King who would come with banners flying and sword poised, ready to deliver them from the oppression of the Roman Empire.

Israel's Confession

Because they were expecting such an individual as that and refused to accept Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah, they will someday have to make that confession, which is found in chapter 53 of the book of Isaiah. How often have we read this chapter and enjoyed its beauty and had a blessing reading it, but I wonder how many of us realize that what we were reading in Isaiah, chapter 53, is the literal confession that the Jewish nation will have to make before ever the Lord Jesus Christ comes back to this earth.

You see, the Rapture of the Church, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the air for His Church, is not an Old Testament truth. That is a New Testament truth. The only thing that the nation of Israel is thinking about is the return of Christ in glory, but before He can ever come back in glory, they are going to have to confess the words of Isaiah, chapter 53, verse 3:

Isaiah 53

3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

That was their attitude. They hid their faces from Him. They despised Him, they did not properly esteem Him, but one day their eyes will be opened, and they will declare:

Isaiah 53

4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But now we know:

Isaiah 53

5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

The nation of Israel, I repeat, because they could see the coming of the Lord only in relation to glory and not in relation to suffering, will someday have to make the confession of Isaiah, chapter 53.

The Witness of John the Baptist

Go back to chapter 40. I said that we had labeled this the voice of the coming Savior Sovereign , but we could just as well label it the voice of Him that crieth in the wilderness . As we label it the voice of Him that crieth in the wilderness , we automatically ask ourselves, “Who is that voice?”

Turn to the Gospel of John, chapter 1. You will find in this chapter the story of another John, not the one who wrote the Gospel, but one who is more familiarly known to you as John the Baptist. In John, chapter 1, verse 15, we read:

John 1

15John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
18No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
19[Notice now] And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
20And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

Recognize that the word Christ there, literally, is Messiah . “I am not the Messiah.” They thought that he might have been. He said, “No, I am not the Messiah.” Then in verse 21:

John 1

21And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? [referring to a prophet about which Moses prophesied, an unnamed prophet who would be raised up in the last day] And he answered, No.
22Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

“If you are none of these, who are you? Tell us something. We have to make a report.” Then you notice verse 23:

John 1

23He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias [Isaiah] .

Turn back to Isaiah, chapter 40. Yes, John the Baptist declared that he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, the voice of whom Isaiah spake when he said, “The voice of him crying in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

John's Message to Israel

Of course, a figure of speech in the mind of the prophet was typical of the Orient. They did not have the super highways that we have today, and whenever a king was going to take a journey, they made a road for him. If there wasn't one there, they made one for him, for it would be beneath his dignity to travel just an ordinary trail. So, heralds went out and they smoothed the way; they made the way plain for the king who was coming. John the Baptist said, “That is who I am. I am the one whom Isaiah spoke about. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. I am preparing the way of my Lord.”

Of course, you know without my taking time to discuss it how he prepared the way. He preached that the Kingdom of Heaven was now, and he preached that all men everywhere should repent and get ready for the kingdom, because God was ready to bring the kingdom on the earth. A lot of people heard him, but not the leaders. They weren't particularly concerned. They did attend His meetings, but He knew the lack of sincerity in their hearts, and so he cried out, “Oh, generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? You go back home, show forth work, meet for repentance, then come and act like you are interested, because you are not really interested in the coming kingdom. The kingdom will upset your plans and your programs. You couldn't care less when it came.”

That was the way that John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord. Every one of the Gospels mentions the voice in the wilderness, and every single one of them identifies the voice with John the Baptist.

Look back to Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 4:

Isaiah 40

4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

When John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord, was there any such physical changes brought about? You are familiar with your Gospels, if you are not familiar with any other portion of the Word of God, and we would remind you that there was not one physical change wrought, such as is described here when the Lord Jesus Christ came the first time. Notice verse 5:

Isaiah 40

5And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

When the Lord Jesus Christ came the first time, His glory was not revealed. What glory is related to the Cross? What glory is related to the tomb? When He came the first time, all the world did not see His glory at one time. A few, a mere handful, in comparison with the rest of the world realized that He was the Son of the living God.

Elijah, the Second Messenger

Turn to the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1. I want you to realize that though John the Baptist was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, he was not the only voice in the wilderness. The Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, verse 1:

Mark 1

1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
2As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
3The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

If you were not familiar with your Bibles, you might assume that verse 2 is talking about the same person as is verse 3. Of course, you already know the one about whom verse 3 is speaking. It is John the Baptist. If you, however, were not familiar with your Bibles, you might assume that this quotation is from the book of Isaiah in its entirety, but such is not the case. Verse 3 is a quotation from Isaiah, chapter 40, but verse 2 is a quotation from the book of Malachi. Please turn to the last book of the Old Testament and notice in chapter 3, verse 1:

Malachi 3

1Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: [notice] and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

There is a difference. When John the Baptist was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, the Lord Jesus Christ did not come to His temple suddenly; He came quietly, as a babe born in Bethlehem's manger; but when this second voice of the wilderness prepares the way, He will come suddenly to His temple, and He will come not to save as He did when He came as a babe in Bethlehem's manger, but He will come to judge, because we read in verse 2:

Malachi 3

2But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
3And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

We have identified the voice in the wilderness related to the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Who is the voice in the wilderness related to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ? Turn to chapter 4, and notice verse 5:

Malachi 4

5Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

We have studied enough of the prophetic Word to know that the great and dreadful day of the LORD , is a reference to that period of time known as the Tribulation , which will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon. Before the end of that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes, God is going to send another voice in the wilderness, and that voice will be none other than Elijah.

If you are thinking, you realize that just as John prepared the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ the first time, Elijah is going to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ the second time.

Physical Changes to Occur

There is another question in our mind. In Isaiah, chapter 40, verses 3-4, when we said that every valley shall be filled and every mountain shall be made low, we ask ourselves, “Are such physical changes promised before the Lord comes the second time? Are such physical changes promised in connection with the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, when Elijah represents the voice in the wilderness?”

Turn back to Zechariah, chapter 14. There are more passages of Scripture which declare the fact of physical changes in this universe when the Lord Jesus Christ comes than we have time to mention, but this one is close by so we will look at it. Zechariah, chapter 14, verse 1:

Zechariah 14

1Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
2For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3[Notice] Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

Some people who do not believe in the futuristic interpretation of the Scriptures try to fit these verses into various battles that have been fought in days gone by. They cannot do so accurately, but if they stretched their imaginations to the breaking point and did so to their own satisfaction, they are at a loss to know what to do with verse 4:

Zechariah 14

4And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, [some say that He can plant his feet on the mount of Olives, but what are they going to do with this] and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
5And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains…

We will stop our reading there for the moment, because our primary objective in turning to this passage of Scripture was to emphasize that the last portion of the paragraph that deals with the voice in the wilderness is dealing with the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. When John the Baptist was the voice in the wilderness, there were no physical changes such as is described here. When Elijah becomes the voice in the wilderness and prepares the way for the coming King, there will be these physical disturbances.

The Manner of Elijah's Arrival

We know all about John the Baptist, because he has already come and gone, and we can tell you from the Scriptures when he came, how he came, how he made his ministry known, but since Elijah is yet to come, just in what manner he is going to come?

Turn to the book of Revelation, and notice chapter 11. We are not going to have time to look at this chapter in detail. It is in print and available to you upon request, but we are interested at the moment in what is recorded in verse 3:

Revelation 11

3And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

We have learned that one thousand two hundred and threescore days is three and one-half years. We have already learned that there is a period of time coming upon the earth known as the Tribulation , which is going to last for exactly seven years. The joyous thing is that you and I, if we know the Lord Jesus Christ, won't be here for this period of tribulation. We will be gone, but folk will be here, and right in the middle of it, God will raise up two witnesses and they will be equipped with supernatural power.

As we read this portion of Scripture, we will not have time to examine each phrase, so I want you to see how characteristics of these two witnesses fit in with the Old Testament characteristics of the man Elijah when he was here on the earth once before. Notice verse 5:

Revelation 11

5And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed [does this remind you of Elijah?] .
6These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood [does this ring a bell?] , and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

Of course, the rest of the story tells how when they finished their testimony for God, and not before, they will taken by the Antichrist and will be killed.

When was John the Baptist killed? After his testimony was finished. The first voice in the wilderness was murdered when the way had been prepared for the coming King. The second voice in the wilderness will be murdered when he has prepared the way for the coming King.

But, what about these physical disturbances? Glance down at verse 13:

Revelation 11

13And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

If we were to read on, we would find that the glory of the Lord, by the time we get to chapter 19, is seen by the whole world. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes the second time, there will be such a manifestation in the Heavens that the attention of the whole world will be directed heavenward, and the Bible says, “Every eye shall see Him, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God.” It doesn't mean that they will be saved; it means that they will acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Preparation for the Coming King

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, John the Baptist, prepared the way of the Savior. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Elijah the prophet, will prepare the way of the coming King.

Turn to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 17. We must stop, but there is one thing that I would like to look at with you before we close. I hope you will go out from here and share with others what you have learned, for my purpose is to commit these things to faithful men who are able to teach others also. You should go out of here and teach someone else what you have learned, but if you do that, you will find some individual saying, “This man is all mixed up. Jesus said that the promise related to Elijah in Malachi was fulfilled in John the Baptist.” Then they will ask you if you have ever read what is recorded in chapter 17 of the Gospel of Matthew, and I would hate for you not to have read it and be surprised and say, “Well, maybe Joe Temple didn't know that, so I don't know what the answer is.”

In Matthew, chapter 17, there is the story of the Transfiguration scene, as the disciples, Peter, James, and John, had a little vision of the coming of the Lord in glory. You remember in chapter 16 He said, “There will be some standing here that will not die until they see the King, the Son of man, coming in His kingdom.” A week later He took them up on the mountaintop and He was transfigured before them. It gave them a picture of what it would look like when He came as King, not as Savior.

That they understood that is very evident, because after it was over in verse 10, His disciples asked Him:

Matthew 17

10…Why then say the scribes that Elias [Elijah] must first come?

You see, they realized that they had seen the King coming in His kingdom, so in this verse they said, “Why did the prophet say that Elijah had to come before the kingdom came? We haven't seen Elijah.” Now notice verse 11:

Matthew 17

11And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things [a statement of fact—Elijah is coming] .
12But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

So many folk who don't believe what I have been trying to teach you in this lesson, will say, “Don't you understand that John the Baptist was Elijah? To say that Elijah is coming again is foolishness. Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah.” No, that is not what it says. In verse 11, He said, “Elijah is coming, but in a sense, Elijah has already come, but people have not been able to recognize him.”

Turn with me to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, for a clearer illustration of this statement. May I remind you that Jesus Christ was not denying the future coming of Elijah, He was simply saying, “There is one voice really in the wilderness preparing the way of the Lord. John the Baptist occupied that position one time; Elijah is going to occupy it another time.”

In Luke, chapter 1, you will recognize the conversation between the angel and Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. Notice verse 13:

Luke 1

13But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
16And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17Listen very carefully] And he shall go before him [that is, before the Messiah] in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah] , to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

You see, our Lord didn't say that John the Baptist was Elijah. He simply said that he was going forth in the spirit and the power of Elijah.

The Call to Witness

What is the value of all this? Well, it is your business as a believer to minister to all men, to witness, to evangelize. If you are not witnessing, you are not fulfilling the call that God gave you. Listen: If you are not witnessing to the nation of Israel, you are failing in your command to evangelize.

The Apostle Paul said, “I am all things to all men, that by some means I might win some.” One of the comparisons that he gave was, “to a Jew I become a Jew.” He didn't mean that he accepted Judaism, he simply meant that he dealt with the Jew on the ground that Jews could understand.

Beloved, if you want to win a Jew to Jesus Christ, you take him to the Old Testament Scripture. You show him that Jesus of Nazareth, whom he hates, whom he despises, was really the Messiah promised in the Old Testament Scripture. Then before his heart is utterly despondent because he realizes that he has rejected and maybe forfeited all hope, remind him that that same Christ is coming again.

If we understand God's prophetic plan, we will be able to deal with the nation of Israel, which is our responsibility.


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