Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Voice in the Wilderness

 Scripture:  Matthew 3 v 1 - 3: "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."

After 400 years of silence from God, Israel was about to hear from Him in a way that would change the world forever.  There were no prophets after Malachi so this became the last book of the Old Testament.  The silence was to prepare Israel for a huge change from the old to the New covenant, and for the Son of God to be amongst His people.  And to forgive their sins.

In Jeremiah 31 v 31 - 34:  "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 
33  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34  And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

The High Priest of Israel that year was Zachariah, a very old and childless man, and he heard very clearly from God in the Holy of Holies.  God sent Archangel Gabriel to inform him that he and his elderly wife, Elizabeth, would have a son to be called John.  Because he doubted and questioned God he was struck dumb until the birth.

When John was about 30 years old he started baptizing people in water as repentance for sin.  He was a lone voice that touched many hearts as he prepared them for the coming of Jesus.  Many had forsaken the way of the Lord and followed strange gods and practices.  Their lives were broken and they desperately needed a Saviour.  Many thought John the Baptist was the One, but he denied it by saying that there was one coming after him whose shoelaces he was unfit to tie.

Do you know Jesus like that? The One who is mighty and so powerful in majesty yet as humble as a servant, who should be held in such high esteem that we would exalt Him above all.  

John said of Him that He would baptize us in the Holy Ghost, which happened to John when he was still in His mother's womb.  When Mary,  three months pregnant with Jesus, came to Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with John, she and her unborn son were both baptized in the Holy Ghost.

Luke 1 v 41 - 42: "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."

John was one of three men spoken of in the Bible who were called Nazarites.  The other two were Samson and Samuel.  They were set apart from birth to the purpose of God and never cut their hair nor drank wine.  The anointing for John to be a Nazarite would have come when he was still in the womb.

Out God is so mighty and powerful that even the ministry of Jesus started before He was born by anointing his cousin, John, as the man who would announce His arrival as the Lamb of God who comes to take away our sins.  Certainly John had the attention of the people and was the perfect person to introduce Jesus to them.

There is no other religion that claims to take away our sins.  All the man-made religions promote various versions of self-improvement through reincarnation, psychology, and philosophy, or punishing oneself for sins.  Only Jesus shed His Blood to wash away our sins forever.

John was the voice of one crying in the Wilderness for people to turn their lives around through following the Lamb of God.  It seems like history is repeating itself these days as so few are speaking out against sin, but rather brushing it under the carpet.  

When Christians are deliberately baited by those whose sins are now legally protected, and it causes Christians to lose their businesses because they choose not to compromise with sin, something very rotten has crept into our society, churches and lives.  We cannot and must not compromise with sin and be in serious disagreement with our Heavenly Father.

We must not confuse non-compromise with hatred and rejection.  Our role is to love the sinner but hate the sin.  Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners, so we cannot elevate ourselves above them, but by our love, which is not romantic or fleshly, but it is speaking the truth.  The truth about sin, and how to be free.  

Sin is the barrier which prevents us from reaching God or hearing His voice.  He had to send John to alert Israel to their coming King.  He was the Voice God used to confront sinners and they 're p rented in their thousands.  He baptized them in the Jordan River.  However, his baptism is not the same as the baptism of Jesus, or of the Holy Spirit. 

Acts 19 v 2 - 5: "He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3  And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
4  Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."

Our God loves us and has given us the gift of salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit has given us nine awesome gifts to help us live abundant lives, helping others, loving others, and sharing the truth about Jesus with them.

This is our opportunity to be the voice crying in the Wilderness and speaking the words that will bring salvation to the lost.  They have a free will to choose to be saved.  Pray for them all for the Light to shine through their darkness.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please make each one of us a voice crying in the Wilderness of this world to bring Your love and rescue plan to their knowledge.  Show each one of us where Your light should shine to gain the victory.  In Jesus' name. Amen.