Thursday, June 12, 2014
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:1,2 KJV).
Why is John the Baptist “preaching in the wilderness?”
Over 700 years before Christ, the Prophet Isaiah wrote of John the Baptist: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3; cf. Matthew 3:1-11; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18).
The Prophet Hosea elaborates regarding Israel’s restoration to God: “[JEHOVAH speaking] Therefore, behold I will allure her [Israel], and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her…. And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi [“My Husband”]; and shalt call me no more Baali [“My Master”]. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever… Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hosea 2:14,16,19,23).
John was preaching in the wilderness to fulfill prophecy, but why did prophecy have him preaching in the wilderness? John’s purpose is described in Luke 1:16,17: “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him [the Messiah, Jesus] 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.”
Through John, God the Father (John 1:6) was calling Israel away from the apostate, satanic religious system that had so gripped and entrapped her, the system that her religious leaders—those “vipers” (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7), those spiritual children of Satan (John 8:44)—had placed upon her and with which they led her away from JEHOVAH’s truth (Matthew 15:1-14).
In order to become JEHOVAH’S wife (Hosea’s prophecy above), Israel had to forsake her idols and vain religion (the center of which was the Temple). The Gospel of the Kingdom that John preached in today’s Scripture was Israel’s chance to escape Satan’s bondage and become God’s chief nation in the earth….