Theme

 The theme for Unity 2012, Into the Wild is inspired in part by our surroundings. We are gathering at Wilderness Edge Retreat Center, which is surrounded by awe inspiring wilderness. As Christians, we also must venture out into the wilderness; one that is both a challenge and an adventure. What is ‘wilder’ than setting out on a path with Jesus Christ as his disciple? 

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight the paths of our God.’” -Isaiah 40: 3

 

“The voice said, ‘Cry out.’ So I said, ‘What shall I cry?’” – Isaiah 40: 6a

“He will feed His flock like a shepherd and gather the lambs with His arm; and He will comfort those with young.” -Isaiah 40: 11

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the elect shall be without strength. But those who wait on God shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like the eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not hunger.” Isaiah 40: 30-31

 If we must go through this wilderness experience for God, what are we to do while we’re in it?

That’s a very good question, and one with a very simple answer. More than anything, a believer in the wilderness needs to immerse themselves in the Word of God. The more revelation and understanding we can take in during the wilderness experience, the more powerful a tool in the hands of the Lord we can be when we come out of it.

Don’t be discouraged, when the wilderness comes to greet you, stretch forth your hands and embrace it. Know that it is in the wilderness that you will truly find Jesus waiting for you.

Living a Christian life is to venture out into the wilderness. It might be risky sometimes, but it isn’t boring! One’s whole life becomes an adventure!

Bible Verse Meaning

THE PROMISE OF ISAIAH  (http://www.angelfire.com/nt/theology/mk01-01.html)

            As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way; 3  the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’” (Mark 1:2-3).

 The quote is taken from Malachi 3:1, the very last book of the Bible.  Malachi was writing to the sinful generation in which he lived.  He was warning them of their need to repent and to straighten out their manner of living.  The reason that they needed to repent was because the Lord (Yahweh) was going to come.

 John is plainly the promised forerunner.  And the Lord who he announces is JESUS.  Thus, the Old Testament passage which promises the coming of Yahweh is fulfilled in Jesus.

Mark says that this is “written in Isaiah, the prophet” (1:2).  Actually, the quote is taken from two separate passages of the Old Testament.

             “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me,,,” (Malachi 3:1a).

            A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3).

 Why is only Isaiah mentioned by Mark?  Perhaps it is because Mark did not expect his Gentile readers to be familiar with the tiny book of Malachi.  Or perhaps it is because Isaiah, being the first book of the prophets, was sometimes used as the title for the entire collection of the books of the prophets.

 The juxtaposition of the concept of “the beginning of the gospel” with these prophetic words is no accident.  It points to the fact that the gospel did not start with the birth of Christ.  It had its beginnings a lot earlier.  The prophets preached the gospel and told of the One who would come to redeem the world.

Unfortunately, the “road of return” so to speak, was not easy. In fact there was no road, not even a path. In ancient times, when kings had to travel through barren lands on the way to large cities, they would send people to clear the path for them, which meant removing obstacles like briary and thorny brush, trees, and bushes; finding ways to cross over streams; making bridges; filling valleys; and flattening hills. http://hubpages.com/hub/Make-Straight-the-Way-of-the-LORD


Logo

The Unity 2012 logo brings together the theme and location. 

Pine Trees

The pine tree is also known as the evergreen tree, because its leaves never turn brown and fall to the ground. Where most types of trees “die” in the autumn and come back to life in the springtime, the pine tree is alive and vibrant all year long.

One of the signs in the life of a mature believer is that they are alive in God all the time. They don’t have times of backsliding, when they seemingly “die” to their relationship with God, they are constantly in love with Him, serving and worshipping them with gladness.

Once we learn to know God in the dryness of the wilderness, we are more able to know Him in whatever situation we face. Just as the cypress can survive the storm, the pine can survive the heat and cold. Just as we learn to stand with the Lord during the storms and problems of life, we too must learn to stand with Him whether we’re with people who are on fire for Him, or so cold towards God as to turn the atmosphere into a “spiritual winter.”

Path Leading to Cross  

The path is reminding us that we must prepare a straight path for the Lord, removing all obstacles that are in the Lord’s way preventing him from coming. All the misleading ways in our life, in the life of our society need to be straightened out.

When listening to the words of Isaiah, “Make straight in the desert a highway”, you might remember the stories of the people of Israel wandering for 40 years, unable to find any path that was even close to straight.  Instead they wandered around and around, unable to see any straight path or notice anything hopeful up ahead on the horizon. They were unable to look up from the trudging, conflict-filled lives they lived, unable to recognize their peace which would appear very soon, just up ahead, on the horizon.   The people of Israel were discontented and disgruntled.  They were people who could not see much more than what was right in front of them. Isaiah told them, ‘look up! Your Messiah is on the way! Isaiah seemed to be saying that they needed to only look up, to scan the horizon of their lives, to see the coming of God.