TEEN TREE       OF LIFE

THE MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

Part 2

September 27, 2020

 

Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

 

Last week, we learned that before The Messiah would come, John the Baptist would prepare the way for Him with his own ministry.  John wasn’t among those favored by the chief priests in Jerusalem – the ones who spoke in the temple or in the synagogues there. Instead, he preached in the wilderness of Judea(MATT 3:1) and his message was to prepare the way for The King. ISA 40:3 (New International Reader’s Version) states: A messenger is calling out, “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord. Make a straight road through it for our God. This verse is a reference to the oriental custom of someone going ahead of a king to make sure the road was in good condition for travel. It was John The Baptist’s responsibility to prepare the people for The Messiah’s Coming. Like a road covered with rocks and potholes, the difficulties and obstacles that separated the people from God needed to be removed and taken care of. John’s message was that of a prophet, not a rabbinical priest who called people to follow the religious traditions that had been developed by the Rabbis.

 

The Messenger Bible perfectly describes John’s purpose and his message in LUK 3:3-6: John, Zachariah’s son, out in the desert at the time, received a message from God. He went all through the country around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins, as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet: Thunder in the desert! “Prepare God’s arrival! Make the road smooth and straight! Every ditch will be filled in, Every bump smoothed out, The detours straightened out, All the ruts paved over. Everyone will be there to see The parade of God’s salvation.” Love it!

 

The people John taught at this time needed to have a change of heart – a change of mind – so that they would be ready to recognize and follow the Messiah. The heart is the part of the soul where metabolized Bible doctrine resides. Metabolized doctrine is the work of God The Holy Spirit when a believer mixes accurate doctrine, that is understood, with faith. Bible doctrine perceived is made understandable by means of The Filling of The Holy Spirit. Once believers have understood the doctrine that they have received, they have knowledge only (“gnosis” in the Greek), which cannot be applied. But at that point, believers can use their volition to either accept its truth by faith or to reject it. Much like the body metabolizes food for energy, when doctrine is believed, God The Holy Spirit metabolizes it by cycling it from the left lobe of the soul (the mind) to the right lobe (the heart) where it becomes spiritual energy (“epignosis” in the Greek) which is now ready for application.

 

It’s clear to see what an integral and important part John The Baptist played in God’s Plan for our lives! Matthew and Luke aren’t the only ones to acknowledge that John The Baptist is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Look at what the apostle wrote: They [priests and Levites sent by the Jewish leaders] asked one last time, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied, using the words of Isaiah the prophet. John said, “I’m the messenger who is calling out in the desert, ‘Make the way for the Lord straight.’ (Isaiah 40:3) (JOH 1:22-23 New International Reader’s Version) In his Gospel, the apostle Mark adds that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of a prophecy of Malachi : Long ago Isaiah the prophet wrote, “I will send my messenger ahead of you. He will prepare your way.” (Malachi 3:1) (MARK 1:2 New International Reader’s Version) This is the same passage that Zacharias referenced in his prophecy concerning his son.

 

John the Baptist was also the herald of The Messiah. A herald’s specific duty was to proclaim the coming of the King loudly and extensively. In LUK 3:3 (New International Reader’s Version) we read: He went into all the countryside around the Jordan River. There he preached that people should be baptized and turn away from their sins. Then God would forgive them. Through his preaching, John was making it known that The Lord, The King, The Messiah was coming!! And although John was preaching in the wilderness, his message was reaching many other places: People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea. They also came from the whole area around the Jordan River. (MATT 3:5  New International Reader’s Version)

 

Here’s another very cool thing about John The Baptist: he lived his life like a prophet of long ago. He lived out in the wilderness instead of a city, just like they did and his style of dress and diet were also similar. Look at what the apostle Matthew wrote about him: John dressed in a camel-hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey. (MATT 3:4 The Message Bible)

 

When The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron concerning the laws about animals for food in LEV 11:22-23 (The Message Bible), He said this about eating locusts: “All flying insects that walk on all fours are detestable to you. But you can eat some of these, namely, those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground: all locusts, katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers. But all the other flying insects that have four legs you are to detest.” Ancient Israel was described as a land that flowed with milk and honey. And locusts and honey could be found fairly easily in the wilderness.

 

Now, in case you don’t know what a locust is, it’s a short-horned grasshopper!! Actually, several cultures throughout the world consume insects, and locusts are considered a delicacy and eaten in many African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries. Fifty to sixty percent of the weight of the average locust is pure protein. In fact, this actually makes them a more complete protein source than beef (by protein/weight ratio)! In fact, locusts contain: Iodine; phosphorus; iron; thiamine; riboflavin; niacin; and traces of calcium, magnesium, and selenium. Maybe John the Baptist was onto something!

 

Unlike other prophets, John also followed the Nazarite restrictions from birth. Being a Nazarite required observing the following: abstaining from all alcohols derived from grapes; refraining from cutting the hair on one’s head; avoiding corpses and graves, even those of family members, and any structure which contains such; abstaining from having any grape or grape derivatives, even if they are not alcoholic. According to traditional rabbinic interpretation, there is no prohibition for the Nazarite to drink alcoholic beverages not derived from grapes. According to less traditional rabbinic interpretation, a Nazarite is forbidden to consume any alcohol, and vinegar from such alcohol, regardless of its source. The angel Gabriel had told Zacharias that John “will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb” (LUKE 1:25)

 

With respect to John The Baptist’s clothing, ZECH 13:4 calls the distinctive dress of the prophets “clothes that are made out of hair.” 2 KINGS 1:8 (New International Reader’s Version) describes the great prophet Elijah’s clothes like this: “He was wearing clothes made out of hair. He had a leather belt around his waist.” Like the prophets before him, John’s manner of dress was very plain.

 

All of these factors show that John was a man with great self-control. He followed all of these restrictions because he had a purpose in life which was much more important to him than his own comfort and pleasure. That’s an important principle for all Christians since self-control is one of The Fruit of The Spirit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control(GAL 5:22-23) When we live God’s way, He brings gifts into our lives—like  the fruit that grows on trees and self-control is one of them.

 

Having self-control means literally letting go of your grip on the things you want and choosing instead to be controlled by The Holy Spirit. Self-control is taught in many passages in the Bible. It is better to be patient than to fight. It is better to control your temper [practices self-control], than to take a city. (PRO 16:32 New International Reader’s Version) This passage teaches that someone who has self-control is a greater person than someone who captures an entire city in battle! It also teaches that we can tame the lion within – the old sin nature! When you control your Old Sin Nature, you’re not letting it control you. Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit. (PRO 25:28) Think about that the next time your blow your stack and lose self-control.

{to be continue}

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