Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Prophecy of Scripture and John the Baptizer

Superman is easy to pick out in a crowd provided he is not out of costume. Any figure able to squeeze into smashing tights and a cape instantly conjures the image of “hero.” The Incredibles helped us rethink the whole cape thing; nevertheless, we still have this modern-day picture of a figure based on those tell-tale signs.

The Gospel of Mark begins with a description of a very peculiar man. He is dressed in camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist and his diet is locusts and wild honey. We are also told the whole country of Judea was going out to him and all the people of Jerusalem and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins.
Now, what was attractive about this man? Why were so many going out to him, spilling their guts and being baptized? Was it is attire? What does the dress say about a man? Guys, there’s a great website out there called, “The Art of Manliness” which comes complete with a section on dress and grooming. Yes, men must be told how to dress and groom; otherwise, we would look like a bunch of wild men, and smell like wild men too. Catching where this is going? John the Baptist was a sight to behold, to be sure. I am confident that many did not go out to copy his attire nor did anyone come very close to him unintentionally. One almost visualizes people approaching him for baptism, holding their noses. But they were not looking at him this particular moment, were they? They were looking beyond him . . .

People were going out to him not because of his wardrobe and diet. People were going out to him because of his voice and because of what he was saying. People were going out to him because his voice was recognizable. Why is his voice so familiar? His voice is ancient and the gospel writer tells us something about John long before he is identifiable with the eye.
God in His unchanging Word said he was coming. “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before you who will prepare your way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness . . .” 400 years before John was born, God made this voice heard and anyone who read scripture heard it. This is why his voice was familiar. Mark says in the next verse, “John appeared in the wilderness preaching . . .” What was John preaching but the same message God said he would preach, “Make ready the way of the Lord. Make His paths straight!” When John preached, he said “One is coming who is mightier than I . . .” John said the Lord was coming, so get ready. This is why people repented: God’s Word was at work.

Dr. Robertson McQuilkin in his book, “Understanding and Applying the Bible,” describes three purposes for prophecy: first, to establish the authentic of the one who is speaking. God had John’s back. Second, to cause a change in those who heard and this is precisely what happened. Finally, to establishing confidence in God who foretold the events. People were directed to look beyond John through the lens of scripture in the power of God’s Holy Spirit to see Him who was coming.
John is a divinely promised messenger preaching a divinely promised message for the divinely promised Messiah. The message he delivered was in a recognizable prophetic voice declaring “Make ready the way of the Lord,” meaning that people cannot carry on as they always have. Change is required—not a change of clothes or diet but change of heart.

The Bible is God’s unchanging word, so as you move through the world, take a moment to consider the source of your confidence for ministry. Who is your supreme your subject in every way you handle and dispense scripture? How dare anyone presume it fails!

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