This is the first article of the Oct.2014 issue of Covenant Reformed News, and is written by Rev.Angus Stewart, pastor of Covenant PRC in Ballymena, N.Ireland.
The Voice Crying in the Wilderness (1)
Notice what the Bible highlights regarding John the Baptist. It is not his face or body for he is not a model. It is not his personality for he is not a celebrity. It is not his hands as if he were a craftsman. It is not his feet as though he were a runner or an athlete. Scripture highlights John’s “voice.”
This is not because it had a beautiful or melodious pitch or tone. John’s voice is emphasized because of what it proclaimed: God’s Word! John is called a “voice” because he was a preacher sent by the Lord. John’s was a voice “crying” with power and urgency because of the greatness and burden of its message.
John’s voice cried in the wilderness, where all was still and silent until his proclamation split the air. This is Isaiah 40:3, quoted by all four of the evangelists: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23).
And what is the proper response to a voice, especially a voice declaring God’s Word and crying with force and vigour? One must listen to such a voice!
The time when the voice cried is carefully delineated in Luke 3:1-2. Seven men are mentioned: Tiberius Caesar (the Roman emperor), four regional rulers of greater Palestine (Pontius Pilate, Herod Antipas, Philip and Lysanias) and two Jewish High Priests (Annas and Caiaphas). Luke even states precisely when the voice began to cry: “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1). Scholars say this was AD 26. This remarkable temporal identification would be like someone in a UK context speaking of the nth year of A, the British monarch, when B was the Prime Minister of the UK and C, D and E were the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland, and F was the Archbishop of Canterbury with G his designated successor.
The birth of Jesus Christ is dated according to the reigns of only two people (Luke 2:1-2), whereas the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry is dated according to the reigns of seven people with even the year of the emperor’s reign being given (Luke 3:1-2). The beginning of Jesus Christ’s ministry was a few months later and His crucifixion and resurrection occurred a few years later.
Luke is often called “the historian” in part because of the dates he gives (2:1-2; 3:1-2) and the effort and care he took in his inspired gospel account (1:1-4; cf. Acts 1:1f.). Luke the historian fixes the beginning of John’s ministry so carefully because his voice in the wilderness ended the 400 silent years and heralded the coming of the promised Messiah and the kingdom of heaven!
- Volume: 15
- Issue: 6
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851