In those days John the Baptist came,
preaching in the Desert of Judea, and saying,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
This is he that was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the LORD, make straight paths for Him.’”
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.
Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them:
“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
And do not think you can say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
The ax is already at the root of the trees,
and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I baptize you with water for repentance.
But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
His winnowing fork is in His hand,
and He will clear His threshing floor,
gathering His wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable faire.”
GOD DOESN’T CALL THE EQUIPPED
GOD EQUIPS THE ONE HE CALLS
John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Zachariah served as a priest in the temple twice a year. John did not follow his father into the priesthood but instead he chose a solitary existence in the Desert of Judea. He becomes a “survivalist,” living off the land. As he is living in a desert area this means a restricted diet, since not much grows in a desert. He survives on locusts and honey. His clothing is rough and probably not too clean. A strange man with w strange message.
God has been silent for 400 years. He has not spoken to His people since the prophet Malachi and many had come to believe the promised Messiah was never going to come. But then God calls John and gives him a message for the people. This strange man appears in the desert preaching that the Kingdom is near! He calls the people to get right with God, now. He challenges sin and cuts no slack. When the Pharisees and Sadducees come to see what this is all about John challenges them. Don’t count on Abraham but get right with God. His words convict the people and they turn away from their sin and seek God again, repentant sinners are baptized by John in the Jordan.
Why didn’t God use someone from the religious establishment to carry His message? That would make sense, to use someone who was trained in the Scriptures, someone who knew the Torah from beginning to the end, someone who was respected in the community. But God chose John, a simple man, living a rugged life, but with a heart for God. In the world’s view John was not qualified for the task but in God’s eyes he was just the man for the job because he was willing to be used of God. He was the messenger. He prepared the people for the coming of the Messiah. Hearts were softened. People realized their need for a Savior. They began looking up once more.
Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying,
“Whom shall I send?
And who will go for us?
God is seeking those willing to be used of Him.
During this Advent season what is God asking you to do?