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Had the way of the Lord been prepared? Had the glory of the Lord been revealed? In order to fulfill what Isaiah had written, a Jewish sect called the Essenes moved into the desert at Qumran (250 bc–68 ad), near the Dead Sea, to prepare the way of the Lord. One of their writings, called the Rule of the Community, reads:

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“And when these have become a community in Israel in compliance with these arrangements they are to be segregated from within the dwelling of the men of sin to walk to the desert in order to open there His path. As it is written: ‘In the desert, prepare the way of [Yahweh], straighten in the steppe a roadway for our God’ ” (Rule of the Community, column 8, lines 12–14). Florentino García Martínez and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (Transcriptions) (New York: Brill, 1997–98).

Another writer ironically saw the fulfillment of what Isaiah had written in a Roman ruler’s entrance into Jerusalem. Israel historically looked for deliverance from foreign rulership, but here the Jewish leaders are welcoming the Roman Pompey (106–48 bc): The non-biblical writing, Psalms of Solomon, records that the Jewish leaders “made the rough ways even, before his [Pompey’s] entering” into Jerusalem (Psalms of Solomon, 8:17). R.H. Charles, Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (Bellingham: Logos Bible Software, 2004).

In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist identifies himself as the voice crying in the wilderness (Isa 40:3; John 1:23)—the one that announced the new exodus. Once John baptizes Jesus, Jesus takes on Israel’s role, passing through the waters, traveling through the desert, and embarking on a conquest of the land. He delivers people from bondage (Luke 13:16; Rom 6:18), gives them a new identity (Matt 16:18; Gal 4:7), an inheritance (Matt 25:34; Heb 9:15), and restores them to right relationship with God (Col 1:21–22) and each other (Eph 2:14–16). Through such a great salvation the glory of God is revealed (Exod 40:31; Isa 40:5; John 1:14). God takes all who believe from exile to exodus, in an ultimate fulfillment of what was written in the prophet Isaiah.

Resources Used G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson (eds.), Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007). NTUseOfOT Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed.; Chicago: Moody, 1998).

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