Saturday, January 8, 2011

John the Baptist: The One Of Whom Malachi Prophesied

If you flip back a few pages from Matthew's gospel you’ll see the book of Malachi. Malachi is the last recorded prophet in the Old Testament. Malachi, so to speak, held the baton out for the next prophet who was going to come:
Look! I'm sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you've been looking for will enter his Temple—yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you've been waiting for. Look! He's on his way!" A Message from the mouth of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
If you read farther on you’ll see a little more specific prophecy,
But also look ahead: I'm sending Elijah the prophet to clear the way for the Big Day of God—the decisive Judgment Day! He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I'll come and put the land under a curse.
Malachi was talking about John the Baptist, who was going to come four hundred years later.

How do I know that for sure? Jesus said so:
When John's disciples left to report, Jesus started talking to the crowd about John. "What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A prophet? That's right, a prophet! Probably the best prophet you'll ever hear. He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, 'I'm sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.'
John described himself as simply a voice,
John and his message were authorized by Isaiah's prophecy:

Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God's arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
Just the messenger, someone to get the road ready for the person you really need to pay attention to, the Messiah.

Though John denied being the actual resurrected Elijah, Jesus confirmed that John had come in “the spirit and power” of Elijah. If you go back and read about Elijah in 1 and 2 Kings, you’ll see that John the Baptist dressed like that prophet in a camel hair garment belted with leather, and just like Elijah, he lived in the wilderness and ate only what God provided for him there. If you’re wondering about locusts, God had declared them as clean food in His law (Leviticus). And John preached much the same message that Elijah preached,
While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills, John, called "the Baptizer," was preaching in the desert country of Judea. His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings: "Change your life. God's kingdom is here."
The kingdom of Heaven was God’s rule in heaven now extended to the earthly realm.

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