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Only a voice

June 1997 | by Paul Mahan

That which distinguishes the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New as being true prophets and apostles (for there were many false ones then, as there are today) was not their education, eloquence, fame or miracles. It was the same thing which distinguishes the true from the false today: their message.

If you will carefully study the prophecies and preaching of these men, you will find that none of them confronted men and women the way most do today. They did not start out by saying, ‘God loves you and Christ died for you, now won’t you accept him as your personal Saviour?’ Nowhere in the Bible will you find God’s prophets and preachers confronting people in this way. They recognized that they were ‘ambassadors’ and spokesmen for their God and King. The messenger of the King must proclaim the message with which the King has entrusted them. Usually this is preceded by a ‘Hear ye, hear ye! Thus saith the King.’

Take John the Baptist for example. They asked John, ‘Who are you?’ He did not reply by citing his achievements, human qualifications or titles. His reply was simply, ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness’ (John 1:23). John’s name and ministry were not important; only Christ’s name and glory mattered to him. He clearly stated, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30). John was quoting another bold prophet, Isaiah, who also said that he was only ‘a voice’ (Isaiah 40:3).

God himself gave Isaiah, and all other such ‘voices’, one and the same message. Isaiah asked, ‘What shall I cry?’God replied, ‘All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as a flower of the field…The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of the Lord shall stand for ever’ (Isaiah 40:6-7). Man is nothing, and his godliness is non-existent. God also told him to lift up his voice with strength, to be not afraid, and to tell everyone: ‘Behold your God'(v.9). This God was not just someone who was there to help when they were in trouble, ‘the man upstairs’. He is the absolute sovereign, all-powerful creator, ruler and controller of all things. This was the God they were to behold, worship and fear, for ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Proverbs 9:10).

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God also told ‘the voice’ to proclaim one more thing. He said, ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth’ (Isaiah 42:1). God was talking about none other than Jesus Christ whom, we are told, ‘shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he hath sent judgment on the earth; and the isles shall wait for his law’ (v.4).

Jesus Christ is not the pathetic figure many make him out to be. He is not the Jesus who tries and fails, who wants to and cannot, who loves everybody so much and wants so badly to help them if they will let him. No! Jesus Christ is God. He is sovereign over all. He has ‘the keys of hell and death’ (Revelation 1:18). He is the judge of the universe who must decide to accept us, and not vice versa. He is not limited by what we will let him do. We must ‘behold him’, worship him, bow to him, and cry to him for mercy and salvation.

This is the message every man of God in Scripture proclaimed, and it must be our message today. There are still some ‘voices’ who are not afraid to tell the truth. Their sole desire is to be true to the Word of God and the souls of men and women.