Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mark 1:2-4

Why the Wilderness?

Mark 1:2-4 NAS
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

"Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way; The voice of one crying in the wilderness,'Make ready the way of the
Lord, Make His paths straight.' "

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

The more I look at Mark Chapter 1, the more I want to know why it takes place in the wilderness?

John the Baptizer suddenly shows up in the wilderness preaching that life must be immersed in repentance (a baptism of repentance) for the remission of sin. In response, all of the country of Judah and all the people of Jerusalem go to John, confess their sin (step one of repentance) and are immersed (baptized) in the Jordan.

This is a beautiful passage about a people longing for their God. It is very much like the cleansing that Moses called the Children of Israel to before God came to Sinai with the original Covenant. Just as Moses played the forerunner to God in the Wilderness at Sinai, so John is doing before the Son of God comes. But, why the wilderness?

Here is the reason for my question. All the people of Jerusalem are coming to John (who Luke tells us is the son of a Priest). From Jerusalem? In Jerusalem is the Temple, the center of worship for the Hebrews. Every fall the Hebrews are required to come to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur, a time to confess sin and stand in righteousness before God, but for some reason they are responding to "a voice in the Wilderness". Not just the odd few, but all of Jerusalem. John the Apostle tells me that even the priests were responding to the call. Why?

We know that the glory of the Lord was not in Herod's temple and that the High Priest was appointed by Rome instead of being descended from Aaron. As I understand the times, the Ark of the covenant was not even in the temple at that time. The practices of Yom Kippur were nothing but empty ritual. Did that make it right for the people of Jerusalem to leave the city of the great king and the temple of God to go to the wilderness for a baptism of repentance?

To help me understand "the beginning of the Gospel" Mark gives a reference to the Prophet Isaiah.

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord"

My favorite Old Testament commentary is Kail and Delitzsch. They tell me that it was through the desert (the wilderness) the God went to redeem Israel out of Egyptian bondage and to reveal himself to Israel from Sinai.

Now John too calls Israel to the wilderness to prepare to meet God. But they must come to the desert. If God were leading the people from Jerusalem to the desert then He would clear the way. But He was coming through the desert to Israel, therefore Israel herself was to take care that nothing should impede the speed or detract from the favor of the coming One... the One from Galilee.

Orginally posted Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at my Shoutlife page

No comments:

Post a Comment