Subject: America Today – The Relevance of Isaiah’s Prophecy of Jesus Christ
Isaiah 40:3-5 “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; The crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Matthew 3:1-3 “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ This is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness; Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’” John 1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Our national election, touted as the most significant election in the last 40 years, is only a week away. But the state of our economy isn’t at the crux of this election – it’s the state of our morality. America is on a path to repeat the mistakes of Rome, and the similarities are striking. But it was into this culture of moral bankruptcy that Jesus Christ came on the scene. In a culture filled with hopelessness and despair, Christ came in history to bring salvation and hope to a lost world.
Below are five parallels between the Roman culture at the time of Christ and America today. These parallels are taken from Alfred Edersheim’s classic historical work, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”, chapter XI. See if you don’t agree – we are following this same path:
1) A culture of Entitlement: “The free citizens were idle, dissipated, sunken; their chief thoughts of the theatre and the arena; and they were mostly supported at the public cost…. more than two hundred thousand persons were thus maintained by the State…”
2) The spread of atheism and self-deification: “Religion, philosophy, and society had passed through every stage, to that of despair… the issue lay between Stoicism and Epicureanism. Both ultimately led to atheism and despair – the one, by turning all higher aspirations self-ward, the other, by quenching them in the enjoyment of the moment; the one, by making the extinction of all feeling and self-deification, the other, the indulgence of every passion and the worship of matter, its ideal.”
3) The rejection of absolute truth: “… among the philosophers, all religions were considered equally false or equally true – the outcome of ignorance, or else the unconscious modifications of someone fundamental thought. The only religion on which the State insisted was the deification and worship of the Emperor. It would be unsavoury to describe how far the worship of indecency was carried; It has been rightly said, that the idea of conscience, as we understand it, was unknown to heathenism. Absolute right did not exist. Might was right.”
4) The end of marriage and traditional family, the spread of abortion: “The sanctity of marriage had ceased. Female dissipation and the general dissoluteness led at last to an almost entire cessation of marriage. Abortion, and the exposure and murder of newly-born children, were common and tolerated.”
5) A culture of hopelessness: “…the noblest spirits of the time felt, that the state of things was utterly hopeless. Society could not reform itself; philosophy and religion had nothing to offer: they had been tried and found wanting. Seneca longed for some hand from without to lift up from the mire of despair; Cicero pictured the enthusiasm which would greet the embodiment of true virtue, should it ever appear on earth; Tacitus declared human life one great farce, and expressed his conviction that the Roman world lay under some terrible curse. All around, despair, conscious need, and unconscious longing.”
But then Edersheim documents the historical EVIDENCE of Christianity – the fulfillment of Isaiah in Matthew 3:1-3 and John 1:29 – the arrival of Jesus Christ: “Can greater contrast be imagined, than the proclamation of a coming Kingdom of God amid such a world; or clearer evidence be afforded of the reality of this Divine message, than that it came to seek and to save that which was thus lost? One synchronism, as remarkable as that of the Star in the East and the Birth of the Messiah, here claims the reverent attention of the student of history. On the 19th of December a.d.69, the Roman Capitol, with its ancient sanctuaries, was set on fire. Eight months later, the Temple of Jerusalem was given to the flames… upon the ruins of heathenism and of apostate Judaism was the Church of Christ to be reared.”
Isaiah 40:3-5 stands as another in our long line of facts that America’s hope is firmly grounded in history in the transcendent, personal God who came to redeem us from our own sinfulness.