A Prophet in the Wilderness #4

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….

A Prophet in the Wilderness #2

Tuesday, June 10, 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?”

God only gave one religion in all of human history. Given at Mount Sinai through Moses for him to teach it to Israel, Judaism was a system of 613 laws (listed throughout Exodus through Deuteronomy). The Mosaic Law was a very severe system, and God gave it to thoroughly demonstrate that Israel, in her own strength and through her own efforts, could never become His people. He would have to make them His people.

Alas, Israel never got the message that she was a sinful nation that needed God’s salvation: she still believed she could do everything God commanded. Eventually, her religious leaders added more and more laws, so that when we come to Jesus’s earthly ministry, Judaism was no longer pure. Paul even called it the Jews’ religion” (Galatians 1:14)—it was not God’s religion anymore because sinful Israel had corrupted it.

The Lord Jesus remarked about Israel’s spiritual condition in His day: “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition (Mark 7:6-9).

Does this sound familiar? Sure it does! “Tradition” is still readily accepted instead of Scripture; patristic (church fathers) writings, denominational creeds, papal encyclicals, church council decrees, and myriads of other volumes mean everything in Christendom, but the Holy Scriptures mean almost nothing (unless a verse can bolster the denomination, and then it is ripped out of context and quoted!).

We begin to see that John the Baptist’s ministry in the “wilderness” (today’s Scripture) was God’s method to ensure doctrinal purity….

A Prophet in the Wilderness #1

Monday, June 9, 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?”

Dearly beloved, throughout church history, there has been much Bible reading, but very little thoughtful Bible reading. The primary results of this mishandling of Scripture are the tens of thousands of opposing denominations. There is still extensive Bible-skimming throughout Christendom: just enough verses to maintain “old” groups and form “new” ones (cf. Romans 16:17), just enough verses to have a “form of godliness” (cf. 2 Timothy 3:5), more than enough verses to constitute “wresting” (perversion) (cf. 2 Peter 3:16), and more than enough verses to make God sick (cf. Isaiah 1:11-15).

Anyone can read, write about, and speak about the Bible (people have done it for thousands of years). However, it takes a special someone to understand the Bible—it takes someone who has God’s indwelling Holy Spirit, for He alone understands the Bible. Let us thoughtfully read 1 Corinthians 2:11-14:

“[11] For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Most assuredly, the above passage is extremely insulting to people who have attended Bible college or seminary for many years, and learned everything but how to study God’s Word properly. Dear friends, secular education is not the key to Bible understanding; divine education is the key to understanding the Bible!

With the above information as background, let us proceed to carefully consult the Scriptures to understand John’s wilderness ministry….

Rest, But Not Permanently!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:31 KJV).

Jesus and His apostles are exhausted, but their work was well worth the time and energy….

Earlier in the chapter, Jesus had commissioned His 12 apostles to go out two by two, healing the sick, casting out devils, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom (verses 7-11). “And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them” (verses 12,13). Verse 30 says, “And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.”

Today’s Scripture says that the 12 apostles have been very busy, so hardworking, that they have not even had time to eat! Our Lord Jesus Christ knew they needed rest and sustenance, so He we pressed them to accompany Him to a lonely place away from the crowds… although the Bible says the crowds beat them to the lonely place (this is where Jesus miraculously fed the hungry 5,000)!

In Scripture, we read about how, sometime earlier, the Lord Jesus grew so weary from journeying in Samaria (central Israel), and He had to sit down on a water well to rest (John 4:6).

Jesus Christ and His believers have always upheld and proclaimed the precious truths of the Scriptures, and they did not mind using all of their time and energy to get that message out to the masses! As Paul wrote, And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you: though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (2 Corinthians 12:15).

Certainly, amidst all the activity of the Christian ambassadorship, we should take moments of rest, but may we never take a permanent break! “And let us not be weary in welldoing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). 🙂

The “Our Father” Prayer in HD #3

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 KJV).

Eliminating the static due to religious tradition, we present to you “the official prayer of Christendom” with unparalleled clarity….

“Thy kingdom come.” In this first petition of the “Our Father” Prayer, Israel’s believing remnant is acknowledging that their nation’s fall into sin postponed God’s earthly kingdom, but they are now ready to receive it. The New (heavenly) Jerusalem will come down from God out of heaven” and be established on earth (Revelation 21:1-4). This “heaven on earth” kingdom was Israel’s hope throughout the Old Testament (Psalm 45:6,7; Isaiah 9:6,7; Daniel 2:35,44; Zechariah 9:9,10; et al.) and Israel’s believing remnant during Christ’s earthly ministry anticipated it (Luke 1:67-79; Luke 2:25-38; Luke 24:21; et al.). Jesus and His disciples preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 10:7; Mark 1:15; et al.). Israel’s believing remnant, in the future, will pray for God’s earthly kingdom to come, and her Messiah Jesus will be returning (His Second Coming) to establish it (Revelation 5:10; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 20:4; et al.). Father God said of Jesus Christ: “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6,7)

“Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Satan has polluted heaven and earth with sin (2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12). By the time Israel’s believing remnant is living during the (future) seven-year Tribulation, we the Church the Body of Christ will already be raptured into heaven, ruling and reigning for God’s glory there. Halfway through those seven years, Satan and his angels will be cast out of heaven (outer space) and confined to earth (Revelation 12:7-9); we will occupy their vacated offices of government in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6,7; Philippians 3:20,21). God will restore heaven to Himself first, He will glorify His Son Jesus in heaven first, and His purpose and plan will be accomplished in heaven first. Israel’s believing remnant, knowing this, will pray the second petition that God’s will on earth—His earthly kingdom—be accomplished AS His heavenly kingdom was established.

Let us continue dissecting the “Our Father” Prayer….

The Great Things The Lord Jesus Hath Done #6

Friday, October 11, 2013

“And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel” (Mark 5:20 KJV).

Who is this man, and what “great things” hath the Lord Jesus done for him?

While the story of the exorcism of the Gadarene (today’s Scripture) was indeed literal and should be believed as historical fact, it should also be understood as typical of (illustrative of) redeemed and restored Israel (prophetic fact). Whenever Jesus Christ cast out devils during His earthly ministry, it was literal, physical, visible proof for all Israelites to see and recognize as fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Remember, “for the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22a). In Israel’s program, the preaching of God’s Word was accompanied by miracles that validated those words of God.

The Bible says the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles preached, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Matthew 10:7; Mark 1:14,15). This was “the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 9:35), and miraculous demonstrations—casting out devils and healing the sick—followed its proclamation (Matthew 10:5-8; Mark 16:17-20; Luke 8:1; Luke 11:20; Acts 2:22; Hebrews 2:3-5; Hebrews 6:4,5). In that earthly kingdom of Jesus Christ, there would be no sickness or evil spirits.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land (Zechariah 13:2). When Israel’s Messiah would come, He would rid her and her land of satanic captivity. Every time Jesus cast out devils, He was evicting Satan’s minions (although Israel rejected Jesus’ efforts; Matthew 12:24-32; Mark 3:22-30). Since Israel rejected Christ at His First Coming, and refused to let Him cleanse them and their Promised Land the first time (just as the Gadarenes asked Jesus to leave), Zechariah’s prophecy will not be completely fulfilled until Christ’s Second Coming (Revelation 20:1-3).

Let us now conclude the narrative and see Israel’s (future) restoration to her God….

Consider Your Ways, Mankind! #1

Thursday, September 26, 2013

“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:29,30 KJV).

Mankind, in his natural state, is apathetic to JEHOVAH’S desire to build a temple… using him….

Job, the oldest Bible book (predating Moses and his books of Genesis to Deuteronomy), summarizes the hope of every believer who lived in the “Old Testament” economy (although, technically, this was also the hope of believers in Christ’s earthly ministry and the early Acts period):

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27).

As a representative of the believers living in Israel’s program, Job shows us that the hope the believer in the God of the Bible had was not to go to heaven, but rather to be resurrected bodily to live forever in an earthly kingdom with that God reigning. As opposed to them expecting to go to heaven upon death, these saints expected heaven to come down to earth (literally, “heaven on earth”)! This was the hope believers had prior to the salvation and ministry of the Apostle Paul.

In early Acts, the Apostle Peter offered to Israel that earthly kingdom which was “spoken by the mouth of all [God’s] holy prophets since the world began(Acts 3:21). That earthly kingdom was the heart of “the Gospel of the Kingdom” that John the Baptist preached, that Jesus Christ Himself preached in His earthly ministry, and the Gospel that He commissioned Israel’s 12 apostles to preach (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 10:7; Matthew 24:14; Mark 1:14; et al.).

Note how Peter says that God’s promise of that earthly kingdom goes right back to Adam, the first man. That kingdom prophesied “since the world began” is still postponed.…

Messiah’s Feet Shod with Majesty

Monday, May 6, 2013

And [John the Baptist] preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose (Mark 1:7 KJV).

What did John the Baptist mean in today’s Scripture when he mentioned Jesus’ sandal straps?

God the Father commissioned John the Baptist to undertake a special ministry: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” (John 1:6-8).

John the Baptist was Christ’s forerunner, a prophet instructed to herald the arrival of Israel’s Messiah-King, Jesus, the “Light.” Matthew 3:3 expounds: “For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias [Isaiah 40:3], saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16). The message John preached was the gospel of the kingdom: “And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). John is announcing to Israel that her long-promised Messiah is about to present Himself to her, so she needs to accept Him.

During Bible times, one of the jobs of the servant was to untie and remove his master’s sandals. In today’s Scripture (cf. Luke 3:16), sinful John confessed to Israel that he is so lowly compared to the magnificent and holy Messiah Jesus whom is he is preaching, that he, as Jesus’ servant, is not worthy of even stooping down and untying his Lord’s sandals (John did not think he was good enough to perform one of the lowest types of service!). In fact, John declared in Matthew 3:11, “whose shoes I am not worthy to bear”—John said he was unworthy of also picking up Jesus’ shoes!

John cautioned Israel not to take Jesus’ arrival lightly (which they still did, despite that warning). Sadly, Israel ignored John’s message that even Jesus’ feet were shod with majesty.