Okay, this is a VERY long post….so if you do not have time to read something long then I totally understand..but if you do have time to read this then I’d really appreciate it!
Who Was John the Baptist in the Bible?
John the Baptist was a great prophet. His birth was foretold in Luke 1. He is the son of Zacharias and Elisabeth. He would eventually be the one who baptized our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Look at Luke 1:11. The angel Gabriel appeared unto Zacharias and made the announcement about the birth of John the Baptist.
The angel told Zacharias to name their baby John. He shall be great in the sight of the Lord and shall not drink wine or strong drink. John would was filled with the Holy Ghost in his mother’s womb. He shall turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. Verse 17 states: “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.”
Zacharias and his wife were both old in age. So, he questioned how this would happen to them. Gabriel reminded Zacharias that he was an angel of the Lord who stands in the presence of the Lord. “And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things are performed, because you do not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.” His wife Elisabeth becomes pregnant. Six months later, Gabriel goes to Mary announcing the birth of Jesus.
Let us fast forward in the book of Luke. After the virgin Mary is told that she will be the mother of Jesus, she goes to visit her cousin Elisabeth. Elisabeth is also pregnant and in her sixth month. Luke 1:37 declares “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” When Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Ghost.
After John was born and his mother named him. His father could not talk until after John’s birth. Some wanted them to name him Zacharias after his father. Elisabeth said no. John would be his name (Luke 1:60). When they asked John’s father, he motioned for something to write with. He wrote that his name is John. His mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed. All those around him became fearful.
Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost and prophesied saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68). Zacharias had a lot to say since he could not talk for nine months. He spoke of John being the forerunner of the Lord. John grew and was strong in spirit. He lived in the deserts until the day he showed up in Israel. This was about 30 years of his life. His spiritual strength was developed in solitude for use in his public ministry (The KJV Study Bible, Barbour Publishing, 2011).
What Did John the Baptist Do in His Life?
John is also referred to as a forerunner of Jesus Christ. He was born before Christ in Judea, Palestine near Jerusalem. John the Baptist’s ministry is evident throughout the New Testament especially in Matthew 3 and Luke 3. In Matthew 3:1, we find John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea saying “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
He reminds the people that Jesus is the one spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. I know you are familiar with verse four. His clothes set him apart from other religious leaders in those days (The KJV Study Bible, Barbour Publishing, 2011). His outfit was made of camel’s hair, and he wore a leather girdle for pants. He feasted on locusts and wild honey. During those days, religious leaders would have worn fine garments to reflect their position.
He baptized many people in the Jordan River after they had confessed their sins. Pharisees and Sadducees came to get baptized. John rebuked them and told them to repent because judgment will come upon them if they do not. John makes it clear that he can baptize people with water unto repentance but there is one coming after him whose shoes he was not worthy to bear. Jesus will baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
Jesus came from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized. John tried to resist this because he felt that Jesus should baptize him. Jesus told John that he needed to baptize him. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).
Why Did Jesus Say He’s the Greatest Prophet?
John has often been called a forerunner of Jesus. He preached all about the country of Jordan calling for repentance for the remission of sins (Luke 3:3). He taught that all flesh would see the salvation of God. He instructed those who came to be baptized to bring fruits worthy of repentance. He taught charity and said that if you have plenty that you should share with others. John preached even to soldiers that they should not do violence to any man, not to falsely accuse anyone, and to be content with their pay (Luke 3:14).
Also, remember that there is about six months difference in their age. They are also cousins through their mothers. When the virgin Mary visited Elisabeth, the Holy Ghost was present there as the baby leaped in her womb. He referred to John as the greatest prophet because of his boldness. He was not afraid to preach the Gospel. It was quite dangerous to do so in those days. John would later die for his faith. Jesus says in Matthew 11:11 “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.” When Jesus said this. John was already in prison.
How Did John the Baptist Die?
Herod put John the Baptist in prison because John told him that it was unlawful for him to have his brother’s wife. Herodias was divorced from his half-brother. Herod the tetrarch also had divorced his wife. He would have put John to death, but he feared the multitude who counted him as a prophet (Matthew 14:5).
During his birthday celebration, Herodias’ daughter danced for him. It pleased him so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she wanted up to a half of his kingdom. Read Mark 6:14-29. She asked her mother, “What shall I ask for?” Her mother told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist in a charger. The king was sorry, but for his oath’s sake and those who set before him, he granted her wish. He sent and beheaded John and his head was brought in a charger. She gave John’s head to her mother. The disciples came and took up the body of John and buried him and then told Jesus. After the news, Jesus departed by ship into a desert place.
Christians Need To Cling to FAITH When Life Knocks You Off Balance
“For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
Whenever bad things unexpectedly happen to us (like a job lay off, an unfaithful spouse, or a shocking doctor’s diagnosis), we can be knocked off our “spiritual balance.” It’s important at these times to realize that our troubles didn’t surprise God! When the bad news hit Heaven, God didn’t say, “No way, it can’t be!” God’s jaw didn’t drop. He didn’t go into a state of shock. And because God is not surprised by our problems, I’ve got good news for you – it means there is a promise waiting for you in your future.
Because of who God is (the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End), He exists outside of time. He has already seen your troubles and has planned for them. And because God is not surprised by your test, He has already arranged for your testimony; He’s seen your future, and provided a way out of your present situation.
God Provides for Us When Bad Things Happen
The Bible is full of examples of God’s provision for people ahead of their problems. For example, God made arrangements for Joseph to be placed in power in the palace of Egypt, before his brothers threw him into the pit, before Potiphar threw him into prison, and before his family would need his political influence to survive a seven-year famine.
God arranged for ravens to feed Elijah meat in the morning and evening even before he hid himself away in the wilderness. God lodged a coin in a fish’s mouth to pay the Temple tax, even before Peter and Jesus had a tax liability. And before the serpent deceived Adam and Eve into sinning and separation from their Creator, God provided a plan of redemption for mankind through the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). The only thing that should actually concern us is how do we get to that place where God has provided for our deliverance?
There’s a popular saying that goes like this: there are only two absolutes in life, death and taxes. But I believe there’s a third: sandwiched between you and the promise God has to deliver you from your problem, is a test of faith. As James 1:2 says “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Jesus also said it plainly in John 16:33, ”in this world you will have tribulation.” Since we can’t get around these tests of faith, we need to prepare for them.
By studying the life of Abraham and Sarah, we can learn three important strategies that will help guide us to experience God’s promises, especially when we have been knocked off balance by a trial which puts our faith to the test.
- Develop a “Test Ready” Kind of Faith
“Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am’” (Genesis 22:1).
Most Christians know of Abraham’s story, how God called the man Abram out of obscurity in the land of Ur and led him to the Promised Land. How this ordinary man, by faith and patience, became Abraham – the Father of our Faith – and received a promise that through his supernatural offspring, Isaac, God would redeem mankind with the coming Messiah.
In Genesis 12, Abraham embraced God’s calling on his life and left everything to pursue the promise of God. But after going 15 years without a child, Abraham began to question his calling, and made a series of bad decisions. Even so, in extreme old age, Abraham and his wife Sarah received their miraculous, promised son.
“Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness’” (Romans 4:19-22).
I don’t know about you, but when I read that description of Abraham’s faith, it seems pretty perfect to me. But then I realize that’s not the full story behind Abraham’s faith. It’s not where Abraham started in faith, it’s where he ended up. And along the way, he was anything but failure free.
- He lied about Sarah being his sister to save his own life, and God had to rescue her from being prostituted to Pharaoh.
- He was enriched financially from this deception, when Pharaoh paid him to leave the country (Genesis 12:11-20).
- He did it again to King Abimelech, and again was enriched financially (Genesis Chapter 20).
- At first, he laughed at the promise of God (Genesis 17:17); he then slept with Sarah’s maid and fathered Ishmael, who was ultimately rejected by God and sent away from his father’s house (Genesis 21:9-12).
If you are going to have a “test ready faith,” it’s not that you’ll never make mistakes. What’s truly important is that you learn from your mistakes and grow. You must be able to say next time it’s going to be different. Next time I’ll do it God’s way. Next time, I will absolutely get it right! You don’t have to be failure free, but when you learn from your mistakes, you will be prepared for the next trial and develop your test-ready faith.
- Trust God When Things Don’t Make Sense
“Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you’” (Genesis 22:2-5).
At this point in Abraham’s journey of faith, he had received his supernatural, promised child – the one through whom all nations of the earth would be blessed, the one through whom the Messiah would come. And then God says to him: Go, and offer him up to me as a sacrifice. And even though it didn’t make sense, Abraham took the boy up to the top of Mt. Moriah, and reasoned that God could raise the child from the dead.
Has God ever asked you to do something that doesn’t make sense?
- Bless those that curse you
- Do good to someone who has spitefully used you
- Turn the other cheek when someone hurts you
- Give to those who steal from you
- Go here…when the logical thing is to go there
- Say this… when the logical thing is to say that
- Do nothing…when the logical thing is to do something
In order for us to walk in faith from where we are now, to the promise that is waiting for us in the future, we must be willing to trust God even when it doesn’t make sense. That is, trust that God always has our best interest at heart. It’s not our job to know how God is going to work things out; it’s our job to simply trust that He will!
- Be Obedient, Even When It Is Difficult
“So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’ So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son” (Genesis 22:6-10).
If somebody told you that laying hold of the promise of God was easy, they lied. Sometimes the obedience that is required is really quite difficult. It isn’t always easy to put God first, crucify your flesh, take up your cross and follow Him. It isn’t easy, but it’s often a necessary part of the process to develop the faith to receive the promise.
Abraham, sacrifice your son Isaac
Widow woman, give away your last bit of oil and flour
Noah, build an enormous ark
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, don’t bow, go into the furnace
Daniel, keep praying, and be thrown into the lion’s den
David, go fight that giant Goliath
However, big acts of obedience are often the final push that propels us out of our problem and into our promise!
“But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me’” (Genesis 22:11-12).
Ultimately, we are all on a journey toward God being our first priority. And that is the set up for the breakthrough! When God is number one, when Christ becomes the center of our lives, there is no promise from Him that we will not walk into.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
“Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:13).
It’s no coincidence that the ram was there, caught in the thicket near the place of sacrifice. It was part of God’s plan even before the problem existed. It was God’s miracle provision before Abraham even knew there was a mountain called Moriah that he had to climb in his future.
God, the Alpha and Omega, had already gone there and set the pieces into place for Abraham. He cleared a place for the altar, grew a thicket of bramble bushes, and provided the ram at just the right time for Abraham’s need. So Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh (Genesis 22:14), which means not just the God who provides, but more accurately, the God who sees in advance and provides!
God is never surprised by our problems. The same God who provided a ram for Abraham before he ever stepped on Mt. Moriah has seen our needs and has provided for us as well!
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