26th Sep 2017
In the first installment of this series on John the Baptist, we demonstrated that Isaiah 40 foretold the salvation of Israel at the Day of the Lord in judgment and the kingdom. We likewise provided clear testimony of Scripture that John the Baptist was the anticipated Voice in the Wilderness heralding that great day of salvation.
We move now to establish the relationship between Isaiah 40 and other key OT prophecies to be examined. We will look first at Daniel 9:24:
“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.”
Daniel 9 is considered to be one of the most important of all Old Testament prophecies. It gives a “calendar” for the final salvation of Israel. Within that divinely appointed framework, Israel’s sin would be taken away “seventy weeks are determined… to make an end of sins.”
If the taking away of Israel’s sin in Isaiah 40 is the taking away of Israel’s sin in Daniel 9, (I am unaware of any commentator that denies this) then it is undeniably true that the prophecy of Isaiah 40 would be fulfilled within the seventy week countdown of Daniel 9. Since that connection is firm, that means that John, as The Voice, was proclaiming the long anticipated climax of Israel’s soteriological hope– the taking away of her sin at the end of the seventy weeks – in the Day of the Lord. This is confirmed by a look at John’s message in Matthew 3.
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For 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.’” Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Undeniably, Matthew identifies John as The Voice of Isaiah 40. That means that John’s message was the message of Isaiah 40. It was, therefore the message of Daniel 9 as well. With the appearance of John, as The Voice, the promised time for the salvation of Israel, the taking away of her sin had drawn near. John’s message in this regard should not be overlooked. He was baptizing “for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4). He was offering – proleptically of course, since Jesus had not yet offered himself – what Isaiah and Daniel promised. But wait!
Something amazing was going on with the appearance of John. He was baptizing in Jordan, far removed from Jerusalem, the Temple, the priesthood, from the sacrificial cultus! John’s actions were, in a word, revolutionary. He was saying in a powerful but undeniable manner that salvation, that forgiveness, was no longer confined to the Jerusalem Temple, the Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices. Things were about to change! Revolutionary indeed!
John’s message of the coming kingdom (Matthew 3:2) and the coming of judgment (v. 10-12) was the message of Isaiah 40 and Daniel 9. Thus, his message was about the climax of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9, the delimited time for the putting an end of sin.
This is corroborated by understanding that Daniel’s prophecy, like Isaiah, foretold the coming judgment and the coming day of Israel’s salvation. So, to reiterate, since Isaiah 40 and Daniel 9 foretold the same things, this proves beyond doubt that the events of Isaiah 40 are confined to the seventy week countdown of Daniel 9. Since the salvation of Israel as promised in Isaiah would be at the Day of the Lord in judgment, this means that the salvation of Israel in Daniel 9 would likewise have to be at the Day of the Lord– at the end of the seventieth week.
Since John was The Voice of Isaiah 40, his ministry and the message can hardly be over-emphasized.
My argument may be outlined in the following way:
Isaiah 40 foretold the coming of The Voice who would proclaim Israel’s salvation, when her sins would be taken away.
That day of salvation would be at the coming of the Lord in the kingdom and in judgment (Isaiah 40:10-12).
Daniel 9 foretold the climax of Israel’s covenant history, the time of her salvation, the time when her sin would be taken away – “seventy weeks are determined… to take away sin” (Daniel 9:24). That salvation would occur within the seventy weeks – not isolated from that prophetic period.
John the Baptizer was the anticipated Voice declaring the impending Day of the Lord, the kingdom and judgment, and he offered the forgiveness of sin. In other words, John, as The Voice, proclaimed the imminent fulfillment of Isaiah 40, which means he was promising the imminent fulfillment of Daniel 9:24.
In Isaiah 40, the promised salvation – the taking away of Israel’s sin – would, to reiterate, be at the Day of the Lord in judgment and the kingdom. Isaiah 40 is not a prediction of the Incarnation of Jesus. Salvation is posited at the Day of the Lord, at the time of the judgment. Isaiah 40 is an eschatological prophecy of the salvation of Israel at the coming of the Lord in judgment.
In Daniel 9 the taking away of Israel’s sin is confined to the seventy week countdown. Like Isaiah, Daniel foretold judgment, salvation and the kingdom. Since John as The Voice was proclaiming the imminent fulfillment of Isaiah – salvation, the kingdom and judgment – he was likewise declaring the consummation of the seventy weeks. He was promising the taking away of Israel’s sin at the Day of the Lord in the kingdom and in judgment. All of this means that the taking away of Israel’s sin – the time of her salvation – would be at the Day of the Lord, the full establishment of the kingdom and the manifestation of the Glory of God.** Following on that, inexorably, is the fact that the coming of the Lord, in the kingdom, in manifestation of His glory, for the final salvation of Israel would be at the end of the seventy weeks.
(** – Space prevents development of the idea that the appearance of the glory of God is almost invariably linked with the parousia of Christ in judgment by the NT scriptures. See Matthew 16:27-28; 24:30; 25:31f; 26:64f; 2 Thessalonians 1:10f. Christ’s incarnation was not the manifestation of the glory of the Lord. The manifestation of the glory of God is an eschatological concept, and further confirms that the taking away of Israel’s sin was tied to the Day of the Lord and to the time of judgment).
Be sure to get a copy of my book, Elijah Has Come: A Solution to Romans 11:25-27 for a discussion of John’s eschatological role. You will be amazed at how crucial his message was, and yet, how much he is all but ignored in discussions of the end times!