Prepare the way of the Lord
Clearly, Scripture prophesies a great outpouring of the Spirit to precede the return of the Lord. In Isaiah 60:1-3, He promised, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” You might assume that this applied only to ancient Israel returning from Babylonian exile, but I submit that it never really happened for literal Israel. It’s a prophecy for God’s people, Jews and Gentiles who have received Messiah Jesus, who will walk in glory together in the midst of the gathering darkness of the last days.
Joel prophesied similarly in Joel 2:28-31, a promise only partly fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.” Peter declared this fulfilled in his sermon in Acts 2 – and it was certainly one fulfillment, a foreshadowing – but the fullness of Joel’s prophecy is yet to come.
Finally, looking to our future, Revelation 7:9-10 says, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” Surely, John envisioned the great end time harvest, the result of a great end time outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.
Never does God act without first revealing His secret counsel to His servants, the prophets (Amos 3:7). Any great move of God will therefore be announced by forerunners sent to prepare the way and ready God’s people to receive what He intends to do. Before the ministry of Jesus would begin, the Father sent John the Baptist to announce the coming of the kingdom and to cry out for the people to prepare. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). He preached in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that one would come to call people to prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight.
In the Ancient Near East, roads were maintained only when the king intended a visit. Messengers went before him to tell the people to smooth the road, to take out the rocks and the obstacles. When God plans a great outpouring, He sends His messengers to proclaim, as John the Baptist did, a message of repentance in order that the Spirit of God will have a solid and unobstructed pathway on which to travel. John the Baptist warned that the King was coming and called for repentance to prepare His highway in the hearts of men and women.
Today, as then, God is sending a company of John the Baptist prophets to proclaim a last days outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will fulfill the whole of Joel’s prophecy and eclipse even the Day of Pentecost in power and scope. While still very small in number, these messengers cry for repentance and holiness with an urgency born of passion and hunger, both for the presence of the Lord and for the welfare of God’s people.
The holiness for which they long is not laced with a list of rules to obey, but points rather to conformity to the image of the Son of God. Far from being a prison of legalism and condemnation, their message calls for transformation that flows from true union with Jesus. Rather than working from outward behavior to inward holiness, which never bears the true fruit of love, it works from inward transformation that issues in righteous behavior, free from the destruction sin brings. Real holiness has never been focused the list of things we must not do, but is rather about the wonderful things we’re freed to become.
Let the John the Baptist prophets arise and let their voices be heard in the land. Let an awakening come upon God’s people. Let our ways of heart, mind and soul that fail to conform to the image of our Lord be exposed and cleansed. Let transformation come and let a generation of the righteous come forth whose light draws the nations to the Lord we serve.