Are you ready for God to work in mysterious, or surprising, ways in your life?
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
Time and time again in the Bible, and throughout history, we see God working in ways that we don’t expect. He unfolds His blessings while working to His own schedule and timetable.
In this short passage, we see, for the first time, that the word of God had come to a prophet for public proclamation since Malachi (ie, several hundred years earlier).
The Israelites heard this message and were no doubt expecting a warrior king that would come to get rid of the oppressive Romans and establish God’s people in some sort of intimidating earthly empire.
The final line of this passage – all people will see – extends God’s salvation to Gentiles and non-Jews. To me, this passage highlights the nation of Israel’s tendency to place lots of earthly expectations on what Jesus would achieve. Finally (or so the thought process would have gone) everyone in the world would see that the Jewish idea of God was the right one.
From where we sit today, on the other side of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know how God confounded expectations. A servant king suffered and died so that His people might have eternal life.
Are you placing the incorrect expectations on God, and not letting Him shape your life according to his purpose? It can be often difficult to discern how God wants us to live. However, we have the Bible, which we believe is the ultimate authority for us. Martin Luther is quoted as having said ‘if the Bible were a large, mighty tree and all its words were little branches, I have tapped at all the branches, eager to know what was there and what it had to offer.’ Can I encourage you today to regularly read God’s word to be reminded of His faithfulness and mighty works of the past? There may be some issue in your life that is wearing you down, but a moment spent in the Bible will, hopefully, give you a fresh perspective on how God is blessing you and will continue to bless you.
Head: Are you trusting God to work in your life in ways that you might not understand ?
Heart: Sometimes, God might be placing a “John the Baptist type figure” in your life, to speak something you may not want to hear. Are you really listening to what people in your life say to you? Put your device down (we’re all guilty) and engage.
Hands: is there someone in your life that you can invite along to church to hear about God’s great gift of salvation?
Prayer: Lord, we confess we try to box you in and dictate how we want you to run our lives. Please soften our hearts and minds so we are more like you.
A song to listen to: Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord