Let us open the Gospel of Mark and see how the Ruach HaKodesh brings us to that moment of the Messiah’s first coming.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’ ” Mark 1:1-3
After declaring that the coming of the Messiah is likened to a new beginning, like the dawn of a new era, Mark brings us to two crucial passages from the Hebrew Scriptures which also speak of a new beginning in the history of messianic prophecies.
Sin Pushed God out of the Temple
The first passage Mark presents is from Malachi, the last book of the Hebrew Scriptures. There is such a great story behind this citation. The first two chapters of Malachi bring us to the near end of a 2,000-year-old story between God and Israel. Reading through these words, one really gets the impression that we have reached the end of this love affair.
The Jews had just come back from the Babylonian captivity and things were very difficult for them. They thought that the Messianic times were about to be established. They were suffering under tremendous persecution and great poverty. Even though God sent them prophets to guide them, they still could not understand why they were suffering this much. But being away from the Word, they had forgotten to use biblical foresight which would have confirmed for them in their hearts that they were indeed still God’s chosen people carrying a great purpose. In the midst of this suffering, they lost the vision. And so, the book begins with a very sad conversation between God and His people. It seems the Lord would not or could not stay any longer. That is when He said to the prophet in vs.10: “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar…”
“Find someone to shut the gates of My Temple.” God says. There was so much sin, He was compelled to leave the Temple. The most logical solution at this point would have been a total rejection of Israel by God, perhaps cleansing the world once again with another flood-like judgment. Or another and fuller Sodom and Gomorrah. Maybe even a complete annihilation. But instead of anger and judgment, what happens next in Malachi shows a truly extraordinary God.
I Am Coming Down
As you turn the page to the beginning of chapter 3 of Malachi, instead of destroying the nation, the Lord indicates that He Himself is coming down to bring the remedy, to save the nation and the world. Otherwise, redeeming and restoring mankind would have been impossible. This is when He said in Malachi 3:1 which Mark cites in vv. 2 and 3: “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts.”
It is here where Mark now points to the fulfilment of this prophecy, confirming that the Lord has now come down in the person of the Messiah, Yeshua Ha Mashiach. Greater love you may not find anywhere that the Creator of the universe would come down to dwell in a human body, so we could have salvation. It had never been seen before. There is no other who we should seek because He is the First and the Last.Let us now see how the Spirit of God brings Mark to present the second passage of prophecy directing us once again to this new beginning.
The Re-birth of Hope
The second prophecy found in vs.3 says: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’” Once again, we have a beautiful story behind this quote, taken from the beginning of the second part of the book of Isaiah.
Just as we divided Malachi into two sections, with the first two chapters representing doom and despair for Israel and the third chapter bringing a new beginning, the same can apply for the Book of Isaiah. Its first 39 chapters speak of doom and despair for Israel and for the nations, but chapter 40 then unfolds a new beginning, with a renewed promise of comfort. So then, we read in those 8 verses of a very short 39th chapter of Isaiah, that the relationship between Israel and God seemed to have ended. It even indicates that the Lord would be leaving. We read in vs.6 of Isaiah 39: ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the LORD.”
Here, like in Malachi, the Lord spoke of the closing down of all operations at the Temple, which was then the dwelling place of God. After all, with the evil and sin which took control over the people, God needed to enact His judgment and was compelled to leave. Would this then be the end of Israel? Would this then be the end of the world since Isaiah also spoke concerning the nations of the world? It’s no wonder that some completely skipped this chapter as in the commentary of Rabbi Ibn Ezra. Isaiah 39 is just not there. But, lo and behold, in the next chapter, God indicates that He is coming down. For He is the only one who can save the world.We read this in Isaiah 40:3: A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
Here, the LORD is coming to offer that remedy, He is coming Himself just as both the prophecies foretold. This is where Mark pulls the text from Isaiah and brings it into his gospel to show the beginning of Jesus the Messiah. These are two powerful prophecies positioned right at the start of Mark, emphasizing the style in which the gospel writer presents both the problem and the solution… straightaway and forthright… here, Mark says is the Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God.
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