Luke 3:2b-6 (CEV)
At that time God spoke to Zechariah’s son John, who was living in the desert. 3 So John went along the Jordan Valley, telling the people, “Turn back to God and be baptized! Then your sins will be forgiven.” 4 Isaiah the prophet wrote about John when he said, “In the desert someone is shouting, ‘Get the road ready for the Lord! Make a straight path for him. 5 Fill up every valley and level every mountain and hill. Straighten the crooked paths and smooth out the rough roads. 6 Then everyone will see the saving power of God.’”
At That Time
At that time… What time?
At the time when all of those powers from yesterday’s passage are ruling. At the time when all of the injustices and oppressions and political chaos that we talked about yesterday were happening. At that time …
In the midst of the power injustices, God was not silent.
In the midst of the oppression, God didn’t turn his back.
In the midst of the political chaos, God had a plan that had been laid out some 700 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah: The Lord – the Messiah – was going to come. But before he arrived, a prophet would come ahead of him to help people get ready.
It was the summer of 2015. It was before the Syrian refugee crisis had hit social media very much. Before most people had really heard about what was going on. And God told Dave Janzen at our church to start organizing so that we could sponsor a refugee. Dave called Nathan, and they sat down together and Dave told Nathan all the details he had discovered about how churches could become sponsors. So by the time an image of a drowned little boy washed up on the Greek shoreline turned our country’s steady trickle of refugees into a flowing river, the elders at Vox had already talked about it and Vox was ready to move forward with forming a refugee committee and doing the work of sponsoring a family to come to Canada.
At that time God spoke. In the midst of those power injustices, God was not silent. In the midst of this oppression, God didn’t turn his back. Instead, in the midst of the political and logistical chaos of a mass exodus of people from Syria, God had a plan for us as a church to help one of these families. But before we all saw that it would be a good idea, he told Dave, so that Dave could help us get ready.
This is John’s assignment. This is the same John whose birth we read about back in chapter 1 of Luke. He’s gone on to live the life of a Nazarite for about thirty years: no cutting the hair on his head (or his beard, so Roy will be happy), but also no alcohol (maybe Roy would be less happy about this part!) He’s been living in the desert – subsisting, we are told by Matthew, on grasshoppers and wild honey, and wearing camel skins. He’s an eccentric prophet who has nevertheless spent his life dedicated to serving God, and learning to hear from God, and now, in the midst of all this upheaval around him, God shows up and tells him to start speaking.
This is the one who is going to get things ready for the Messiah that Jews have been longing for for hundreds of years.
And he comes at that time.Journal Questions:
- Have you ever felt like God gave you a feeling that there’s something you’re meant to do, or maybe even some clear idea of something God wanted you to be involved in?
- What was it? What ever happened to that idea?
- Sometimes, whether we’re following along with what God’s asked us to do or not, we start to lose sight of the fact that He is present and involved in the day-to-day little realities that make up our life.
- Is there a way that you can find ten minutes each day this week to sit and say simply to God, “Would you help me see you today?” and then sit in stillness, listening for his voice?