Monday, May 7, 2012

The PROTOCOLS of the GREATEST PROPHET: The Ministry of John the Baptist

Of all the prophets of the Old Testament history, which would you elect as the greatest?
There are those whose ministry was incredibly dramatic with awesome miracles like Moses, Elijah and Elisha; others whose writings were lofty in their language and with unequaled eloquence like Isaiah and Zechariah. There were also those of great passion and fervor such as Jeremiah, Amos and Nehemiah (though he wasn’t a prophet).

Yet, as we all know, the one to receive the title of the greatest prophet according to our LORD Jesus was John the Baptist:

Matthew 11:10-11
10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Yet John the Baptist performed no miracles (John 10:41), not even one; nor did he ever set pen to parchment and write a single word as Inspired by God. So what made John the greatest of all the prophets? Have you ever wondered that?

For one thing, he was the one prophet honored to immediately precede the coming Messiah; the other prophets declared His advent, and described with incredible detail the many aspects of His birth, parentage, lineage, life, ministry, death and resurrection (totaling over 300 prophecies altogether!), but John introduced the Messiah personally to Israel!

Another reason why I believe John was designated as ‘greatest prophet’ was because of the effect he had on God’s people. How many others were able to touch the hearts of the nation and bring about such a change in the lives of people? The angel Gabriel, messenger of the Living God proclaimed to Zacharias that his son would . . .

Luke 1:15-17
15 . . . be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Everywhere in the Scriptures that speaks of John shows a powerful, uncompromising, righteous prophet who declared the Word of the LORD faithfully and refused to shrink back or be intimidated by the religious elite leadership of the Sanhedrin. When they sent representatives to go find out about this ‘prophet’ and later on came to see him themselves, John had some rather harsh (but true!) things to say to them, as we shall soon see.

Matthew 3: 1- 12
1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

Note that – it states that all Judea and the entire region around Jordan went out to see this prophet. Most of these people would have to make this journey on foot! This was not a casual outing!
But there hadn’t been a prophet in Israel for about four hundred years! People were hungry for the Word of the LORD and committed to making such a journey in the hopes that this ‘John the Baptist’ truly was a prophet of God.

Now let’s see what sort of reception the religious leaders get! I can picture it in my mind: John is baptizing people, weeping and mourning over their sins, and wanting to get right with God and others, and seeking the LORD Who was to come. Then the Baptist looks up and sees these religious hypocrites, smug and self assured in their self-righteousness approaching, perhaps coming into view over a high hill. A blaze ignites in the Baptists fiery eyes as he fixes them with a stern, piercing gaze. He wades forward in the Jordan river and thrusts out a finger, pointing to them and thunders:

7 . . . O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

His words were not lost on those religious leaders; by calling them vipers, they knew that the Baptist meant that they were the spawn of Satan himself, that he considered them ignorant of the fate that would fall upon them in the wrath and judgment of God, that they had need of repentance just as much as the ‘common sinners’ that they looked down their religious noses at.

He rebuked them for their boasting and self-deluded good standing before God based solely on the fact that they were the physical offspring of Abraham, and as such thought of the Gentiles as mere ‘wood for the fires of hell’.

I’ve heard it taught that “these stones” that John referred to were not happenstance rocks that were found all about the river, but the very 12 stones that Joshua instructed the children of Israel to place in that river when they crossed it into Canaan land, as a testimony of God’s faithfulness in leading His people to the place He promised them.
Those stones would be a rebuke to the religious leaders, as they were instituted in the Jordan for the purpose of reminding the children of Israel of God’s blessing and fidelity to His people, though these Pharisees and Sadducees were not truly blessing God, much less displaying any genuine fidelity towards Him.

For all of his powerful preaching, John was yet a very humble man (as were all the prophets) who spoke plainly of his own unworthiness in regards to the Messiah, considering himself beneath that of a menial servant that would be assigned to remove the dusty, dirty shoes of his master once he came home. When the people began to attend more and more to the teachings of Jesus, rather than his own, John’s own disciples mentioned this to him, and he only replied that “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3: 25-31).
May these words be spoken by us all, may they resound in our hearts and be obeyed as we die to ourselves and allow God’s life greater reign in us!

He was also one who didn’t want to be noticed or brought into the limelight. How could I say that, you might ask, when all Israel went out to see him, and he preached to untold multitudes regularly?

John 1:22-24
22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

This was in fulfillment of the prophecy made by Isaiah (40:3-8) where it was also declared that “every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” – or in other words, those that would exalt themselves would be abased, those that would humble themselves would be exalted; those wandering from the LORD or “being of two opinions” as Elijah said, wavering in their faith, would be made straight with a steady, true walk before the LORD.

This same thing was declared by Simeon in the Temple at the dedication of Jesus by Mary His mother and step-father Joseph (note vs. 34 in the following passage):

Luke 2: 25 – 34
25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

In verse 32 Simeon stated that Jesus would be “a light to lighten the Gentiles” and indeed, the LORD Jesus is the Light of the world; whereas John the Baptist is portrayed as the Voice in the wilderness – the thing about voices is, you can’t see them! They are not seen as the Light can be seen. The contrast between these two is significant and is mentioned in the Gospel of John:

John 1: 4 – 9, 23
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

What else was it that made John the Baptist the greatest prophet in the estimation of the LORD of Glory, Jesus Christ?
That his message paralleled His own. In fact their messages were so alike, that after John the Baptist was killed, many believed Jesus was John re-born (Luke 9:18-19; Add to this, the possibility that they may well have resembled each other (after all, they were cousins), and many people only saw them from afar, these preachers being thronged by multitudes)!
What was their message?

Matthew 3:1-3
1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

And then the message of Jesus Christ:

Matthew 4:16-17
16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

You can see the obvious parallel: they both preached repentance. They both directed people to the truth that they were sinners and in need of the grace of God.

Both John the Baptist and the LORD Jesus were bold in their proclamations that unless repentance was realized in the hearts of people, they would be judged for their sin, condemned and relinquished to the flames of perdition, that is, hell.

This is not a popular message in today’s church as we very well know – the idea of repentance might make church-goers uncomfortable, as would the mention of sin and judgment and hell fire. It might just chase them away, and we want to be ‘seeker-friendly’ don’t we?
I believe the church has it all backwards and Satan is just thrilled by it all!

Rather than the church seeking out potential church-goers, we ought to be ‘laying down the Law’ of God which is pure and holy and in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, convicting (one of His holy offices according to John 16:8; and of the Law as well – 1 Tim. 1:9) sinners who will then seek God for mercy and grace in Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:23-25
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

The very notion of repentance brings with it the action of total surrender of heart and life to God, a broken contrite heart that mourns over sins committed against the Holy God – a veritable treason and crime against the Holy Throne of the KING of the Universe!

Isaiah 1: 4-6, 15-18
4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Psalm 34:18
The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Matthew 5:4, 6 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Today’s church is all about “positive messages” and speak on the fulfillment and happiness of man, and how God is our servant and we retain the role as ‘masters of our own destiny’ with seldom a thought or consideration that we ought to pray for God’s will in our lives, but assume that our will is sanctioned, even blessed by God! Among many churches, to even pray “Thy will [God] be done” is an expression of . . . unbelief?!? Unbelievable!!

Here is a brief excerpt from Paris Reidhead’s sermon 10 Shekels and a Shirt; listen to his valuable words and see if what he speaks on doesn’t describe most churches today in all their humanistic teachings centered around the needs of humanity rather than the glory of God: The GLORY of GOD – 4 mins. 24 secs

The only life that will know the glory of God, and realize the fulfillment of God’s will in daily living; the only life that will know the full blessedness of fellowship with the LORD Jesus Christ and be used gloriously as His instrument for the Gospel and the Kingdom of God is a life that has ended at the cross with no desire to turn away from this Inspired Instrument of the Death of Iniquity in the human heart!! No Social Gospel can touch this! No Green Gospel of Environmentalism can approach this! No Humanistic Gospel could survive in the glorious Light of this True Gospel – and the church has been well nigh stripped of this Gospel and the power thereof! Yet Paul the Apostle declared boldly:

Romans 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Just as John the Baptist was used of God to lead people to the Messiah before His actual revelation to Israel, so too the true church of Jesus Christ needs to be busy about this business and lead people to the LORD, preaching REPENTANCE and the GOSPEL and the DECLARATION OF HIS COMING AGAIN.

This past Sunday my pastor quoted someone but he wasn’t sure who is was; nevertheless this anonymous voice and his words have echoed in my heart since I heard them (this is something of a paraphrase):

“It is the ultimate example of selfishness that a person who is going to heaven, is content to go there alone.”

May we, the body of Christ, the church founded upon none other than the ROCK, the LORD JESUS CHRIST follow the Protocols of the greatest Prophet, John the Baptist and preach repentance from sin and admonish the lost to turn to God through the only Mediator, Jesus Christ; and may we herald uncompromisingly the Gospel of Salvation until HIS SOON RETURN which we must also declare in these last days!

1 Timothy 2:4-6
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

1 comment:

Tony Kiar said...

Luke 3:8 "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."

Don't count on your parents or grandparents to get you right with God. John Wesley says; " . . . trust not in your being members of the visible Church, or in any external privileges whatsoever: for God now requires a change of heart; and that without delay". By magical thinking we hope to change 'guilt by association' into 'saved by association' as we sit piously in our pews. It doesn't work that way.