He Is Near
by Anthony Esolen
I've never been to the Holy Land, and the older I get, the less likely it is that I shall ever behold that rushing river that makes Israel green, rising in the mountains of Syria and sinking at last into the salt sea where nothing can live. As an allegory of the life of man, its end would be grim, except that the hand of God is on the Jordan River, the most earth-trembling and time-transcending stream in human history, mightier than the Mississippi, more perilous than the Hwang Ho, more of a border than the Rubicon, fuller of true life than the Amazon, holier than the Ganges.
There, two thousand years ago, the Forerunner, robed in camel skin and fed with honey and locusts, preached the coming of the Messiah, and baptized with the baptism of preparation, of repentance. "Who are you?" asked the priests and Levites whom the Jews from Jerusalem had sent, not as apostles but as informants. John replied, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as said the prophet Isaiah" (John 1:23). For something is about to happen that will change the world utterly, as the prophet foretold, when "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Is. 40:5).
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Anthony Esolen is the author of over thirty books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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