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This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased – Matthew 3:13-17

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This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased – Matthew 3:13-17 – 03/16/2016

Matthew 3:13 (ESV) Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse thirteen of chapter three.

V13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.

After John has been sufficiently introduced to us (remember Matthew was a meticulous records keeper being a tax collector) we see Jesus coming into the picture as an adult who is ready to begin his adult ministry. Jesus came of his own free will knowing what the Father wanted him to do but it is important that Jesus came of his own free will and gave a terrific example to those who should follow.

Can you imagine the discussions and dissentions or splits in the church that we would have if say had Jesus not have been baptized? Somewhere along the line we would have a group of people claiming that you should not be baptized because Jesus was not! It is human nature to be divisive but I believe that Jesus who is as timeless as the Father wanted to remove such frivolous problems.

Following that example we should also be baptized if we know what it means and have a desire to make that public declaration for Jesus Christ. If you are unsure or want to know more whether you should I would advise you to read the sixth chapter of the book of Romans, for me that is dynamite stuff and a great biblical basis for baptism. I have also done a baptism page of you are interested at the link here.

V14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

John knew his place and stated that he was not fit to unloose the sandals of the Messiah. He also recognized that Jesus should be the one baptizing him because Jesus had no sin to repent of! John also realized that Jesus could give much more than John ever could and it was no wonder that John was perplexed by the notion that the one he knows as the Messiah is coming to him in this fashion so I do not knock him for wanting to keep his place and having a question whether this is correct, I love Jesus response in the next verse…

V15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

Jesus allows himself to be baptized by John and saw John’s heart and understood why this was troubling to John. Jesus told John that is “fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” and this was because this was part of Jesus mission. Jesus saw the plan beforehand and was keen to reassure John that he was participating in the fathers plan for the Messiah. This was a step that Jesus had to take on a journey that would finish at the cross at Calvary and restart when he was resurrected three days later.

In so many ways Jesus wanted to identify with the ones he wanted to save, he dined with the poor and the sinful man, listened to their problems and identified with them, he showed them love and then taught them a sermon direct from Heaven. By the same token he was baptized in order to identify with the one who had to repent of his sin because Jesus came to earth to identify with us; he was born the same way we were and was brought up with parents just like we were and now we see that Jesus was standing in the place of a sinful man and this was very must the mission of Christ because he continued to do so until he took the punishment for sinful man at Calvary. The difference between Jesus and us is that he was the sinless Son of God!

V16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus was baptized and the heavens opened and a proud Father rejoiced. The parents who are reading this get this right away because God was content to allow Jesus to be baptized but his baptism would not be like the others that the people witnessed that day. God opened the heavens to show that this baptism was special, that it was not just a sinner turning to the Father but identification direct from heaven in the person of God’s own son who came to atone for the sins of the world. There would be no confusion that Jesus had anything to atone for, this one was special because the Spirit of God descended on Jesus like a dove, and it could be seen by those in attendance. There were no witnesses that could attest that this was not something special. In the corresponding passage in the book of Luke we read…

Luke 3:21 (ESV) Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

So who was this man? John the Baptist bears witness in the Gospel of John…

John 1:29 (ESV) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

John understood what was going on and what he was witnessing, he witnessed that the Spirit descended on him and remained on him; we see the love, the cooperation and the triune nature of God vividly in this passage. This was a commission of ministry for Jesus and we see his adult ministry start from here. God shows his feelings for the situation by stating “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” God the Father was not going to stay silent on this matter and like any proud daddy he let all who were in attendance know how he felt.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in the first eleven verses of chapter four studying the temptation of Jesus. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
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John the Baptist prepares the way (part two) – Matthew 3:3-12

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part two) – Matthew 3:3-12 – 03/02/2016

Matthew 3:3 (ESV) For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse three of chapter three.

V3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

In the last article we dealt with an introduction of John the Baptist and who he was and now John introduces himself by quoting Isaiah 40:3 and in the previous few paragraphs we get an idea of who John was genealogically and Matthew draws this comparison (also made in John 1:23) and John was clear in his mission. His mission was that as a prophet, to warn and to prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah. To create an understanding of their sin as a forerunner to Jesus, John knew his role as the warm up man and not the main event.

The idea of make his ways straight comes from what would be done for a visiting monarch or visiting royalty that the route that would be travelled would be prepared and be mended to make sure that the visit and journey was as smooth as possible. The hearts of the people were like the wilderness that John was preaching in, they had to be prepared and smoothed out and I have seen it with my own life and own eyes that often times the one who prepares the hearts and sows seeds is not the one who harvests.

V4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John had a rather odd attire, personality and diet; (he literally lived off what God provided in the wilderness – locusts and wild honey) he dressed and spoke like an Old Testament prophet He took his fashion sense straight from the books of Isaiah, here is Old Testament confirmation of this…

2nd Kings 1:8 (ESV) They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

He was prophesied as coming prior to being born by Malachi…

Malachi 4:1 (ESV) “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. 4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Now you understand why great care is told to tell the story of his birth! John knew who he was, what was promised and why he was on the mission he was on. If we had the attitude that John had of Jesus first – I second and just think for one second how more effective our ministries would be for the Lord. Often times we struggle because we feel entitled to some kudos in the role of the ministry. The more I do ministry and the more articles I prepare and the more lessons I teach I realize that it is not about me but the one I am following.

The last part talks about the fruit of John’s ministry, John was blessed by God and was given fruit in his ministry as evidence of his obedience. People were realizing that the words he were speaking were from God, they were convicted in their hearts and were confessing their sins and more importantly they were willing to put that conviction into action and actually make a life change. John convicted these people of their sins and they responded by the outward sign of faith in baptism, and this became so famous that it reached the ears of the ones who were the religious establishment. Let’s see how John deals with the religious establishment…

V7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Talk about putting a target on your back! John takes on the ones who are perceived as being the “holy ones” with a righteous anger that came straight from heaven. As much as they were different groups in that the Pharisees and Sadducees and had huge theological differences, they came together to see who this new guy was who was convicting them of their sins. The Pharisees believed in the Law and the righteousness that gave you a local and moral spirituality and be seen as being closer to God by doing so. The Sadducees were more worldly and normally the Pharisees would not be teaming up with them but this new threat to the status quo had to be looked at, perhaps they were seeing if they could align this popular prophet to their tribe or cause?

John responds as they arrive calling them snakes, he mocked their genealogical arguments that they were righteous because of a lineage of birth as opposed to personal repentance or sacrifice. Even if they had come to be baptized to look as if they were prepared for the coming messiah we see that John concluded that like everything else they did that it was to put on a religious show and reminded all who were there that the important. John wanted to see that they had repentance on their hearts as well as their lips.

He reminded them of the wrath to come and who it was from. God was about to send his son to preach words direct from the Father and that this Messiah would come and shine the light of God into their lives and tell them of some really uncomfortable truths. They will not survive that wrath and the only way to sustain is to flee from it. He lastly uses the analogy of an axman, getting ready to chop out the unrepentant branches of that olive tree and graft in those who would repent (see Romans 11 for the culmination of that picture) John then advises why he was baptizing…

V11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

And John again states that he is not the main attraction and when you are in ministry it is very easy to be lifted up and people to hold you higher than you should be held up. John remembers his place and states that he is not worthy to perform the tasks of the lowest servant in a house. What a heart to have and it certainly challenges me about my heart when I take on tasks that I have been allowed to do for the Lord, he culminates that and shows his heart in his words in John 3:30 when he says that “He must increase and I must decrease” and we have to remember that in ministries where you are giving a public recognition, that it should not be about you but the Messiah you serve! John brought them to a place of repentance but he was not the one who would save them.

John finishes by telling those in attendance about the judgment that is coming and to be prepared for the Messiah and his coming because he was going to come in judgment. John brought the water baptism but the messiah and only the messiah was the only one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, if you have been following along in our series “the ACTS files” then you would see the fulfilment of that prophecy that was first stated in the book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:14)

He speaks of the wheat and the chaff, the wheat would be the harvest that is useable by the Lord and pure and he will purify those who were pure, not by their own efforts but by the grace of God and the repentance of their hearts and the chaff are the ones who choose to live in their wickedness and never repent. Chaff is the unusable, inedible residue that the agricultural people used to separate from the good stuff using a form and allow nature to blow it away from the stuff that was kept as good. A question to ask yourself is are you wheat or chaff?

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will continue to look at John the Baptist and we will see that John gets a visitor wishing to be baptized and despite protestations by John, he allows him to be baptized I love this scripture because prophetically and theologically it is such a great passage of scripture that I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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John the Baptist prepares the way (part one) – Matthew 3:1-12

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part one) – Matthew 3:1-12 – 02/17/2016

Matthew 3:1 (ESV) In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse one of chapter three.

V1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew now moves on from his narrative away from the childhood of Jesus and leaves that account with Jesus growing up in Nazareth in the last article in this series (link here) and begins looking at the child who was promised of Zechariah and Elizabeth called “John the Baptist” so let’s look at who he was. We are introduced to the foretelling of the baby John in the gospel of Luke…

Luke 1: 5 (ESV) In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

So we understand this baby will come and grow into a man who will have the “Spirit of Elijah” Luke carries on in the first chapter of Luke when he accounts of the birth of John the Baptist and a prophecy by his father…

Luke 1:57 (ESV) Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

Luke 1:67 (ESV) And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

And here is where we carry on the story in Matthews Gospel and John’s message was not one of hearts and flowers and if modern day folks who examine preachers and assess whether their message would be very “seeker friendly” would find John wanting. John had a simple message because he knew his role in ushering in the Messiah. It was his job to call whoever would listen to repentance, but not repentance for the sake of John, he was requesting a true repentance of the heart and a turning back to God for all people.

His message was so in unison with his messiahs mission that his first words were the same as Jesus, both started their missions calling the ones who had gathered to listen to “repent” and that gives an indication of how far the world had sunk away from God’s plan. That message is still relevant today because we need to lose ourselves and seek the Lord while he may be found and to call upon him while he is near.

John states this by saying “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and that is just as true today than it was then, Jesus is coming again soon and the anticipation of that second coming of the Messiah should excite us to continue our kingdom work down here. John’s main message was not the repent, but he reason for the repentance.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will look at part two of the introduction to John the Baptist where we pick up in verse three and see what John actually preaches and the heart behind that, I would hate for you to miss it and the riches that will be revealed in that bible study. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twelve – December 12th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twelve – December 12th

Thank you for reading our twelfth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Isaiah 40:3 (ESV) A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Thanks for visiting and reading our article today. Today’s article is very similar to a few days ago when we spoke about John the Baptist, we look at it from the prophecy standpoint that the messiah will have a fore runner.

We went into detail a couple of days ago regarding the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6 and we also confirmed this in the New Testament when we looked at the Gospel of Matthew chapter 11. Lets look at the passage of scripture in Isaiah.

We read that “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” We know this is of course John the Baptist. The words that are written advise that this messenger will be preparing the way for the LORD, who is the messiah, the historical figure we know as Jesus Christ.

We also learn that he is crying out in the wilderness, for me I have always wondered whether this is a physical wilderness as in will he only preach in the desolate places or is it a spiritual wilderness, will he only preach to those who are spiritually barren in heart. I personally think it is a bit of both, we will read in Luke 3:6-9 that he addressed the ones that the world saw as holy, but in all truth their hearts were far from God, we see this in how they dealt with the messiah who was sent to atone for their very sins.

This phrase “prepare ye the way of the LORD” makes me think of the current monarch of Great Britain Queen Elizabeth II. When she is due to travel on a royal procession and her route is known to local authorities certain preparations take place before she makes that journey.

All vehicles are removed from the streets she is scheduled to go down, the public are placed behind barriers, police, army and bomb disposal units sweep the area to ensure the monarchs safety and the way is prepared long before to facilitate a secure, safe and comfortable journey for HRH.

This is a modern day example of what is spoken in verses 3-5, our king (Jesus) is a much better king than any sinful monarch. We have to also prepare our hearts for the LORD too, verse 5 talks about how all flesh shall see the glory of the LORD because he is the only one who can change our hearts and allow us to be with him for eternity.

Let’s look at Luke…

Luke 3:1 (ESV) In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” 7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

We learn almost to the year of when this happened due to Luke’s timeline in verses 1 & 2. Romans had their calendar listed as to who was Caeser (Tiberius) we get further validation on the governor (Pilate) the local king (Herod) another king in the area (Philip & Lysanias) and who was the high priests (Annas and Caiaphas) we have 5 validations of the point of history we are speaking of. Who said the Bible was vague?

Luke does this to appeal to all audiences and peoples; he lists the Roman leaders from the top down, then the royal leaders and lastly the religious leaders. Luke was keen to be relevant to whoever sought to know about the life of Jesus Christ.

This is an application for me, making the gospel available to everyone. I listened to a song that had the lyric “Jesus paid much to high a price, so we could pick and choose who should come”. We as the body of Christ have to reach everyone regardless of their social status or reciprocal value. We are called to “make disciples of all nations” not called to make disciples if they have a credit score of 600 and above.

We have an almost Pharisee like view sometimes when it comes to witnessing when in fact in many cases it is the ones who are at rock bottom and have nowhere else to turn will be more receptive to a gospel that offers hope. I don’t begin to understand why some people have had such a rough life but I do know that we have a caring God who can rescue us if it is his will.

I mention the “Pharisee in me” as that is who John was talking to. The ones who thought that they were alright with God because they did their wee holy tricks and rituals and got great praise from men due to being the loudest prayers and the most often being spiritual to be seen to be spiritual.

I love how John starts his sermon, if he was Scottish he would be saying “Ya bunch of snakes” great way to get their attention huh? Imagine if you went to church on Sunday and your pastor started with that line! Or even started with the line “What are you doing here anyway?” it doesn’t strike as very friendly in today’s all inclusive “let’s not offend anyone” gospel.

He wasn’t there to flatter, to puff up those who already had a high opinion of themselves; he was doing as it says in the epistle to Jude…

Jude 1:23 (ESV) save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh

These were holy men sure, but they were also stained by their inner sin. You have to realize that it is not the sin that we make known to other men that will destroy us, it is the sin that we keep deep down in our hearts that we refuse to let go of. That is the real destroyer of mighty men of God. Jesus called the self-same men “whitewashed tombs”.

I love how he brings up the very argument they would use to grant themselves righteousness, they would say that “Abraham was their father”. Much as I would love to ensure all of my families’ security in heaven, unless they make their own decision for the LORD, then they shall not be with me in paradise. That is painful as I do have love for them, for example my older brother, he is my sibling, but simply being my sibling is not going to change his eternal direction if he does not choose Jesus for himself.

This is especially important for Pastors Kids, trusting in a legacy is futile as we all own our eternal direction, we all have that same opportunity that Adam and Eve had, to choose God or reject him. John goes on to say that God could repeat creation and raise children from the stones and the earth. (Logical in my opinion that’s where they came from in the first place) and he really gave them their place in the scheme of things. They thought they were so lofty and righteous and really they were not. John who was empowered with the spirit of Elijah saw right through them.

The last part is that he advised that they should be bearing fruit, John could see that in their lives they were not showing any fruit. Lets look at two verses which show you what I mean. The first is in Galatians chapter 5…

Galatians 5:19 (ESV) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

I really need not comment as I already am making a list of the stuff that I don’t always bear fruit upon. Make no mistake about it, I am certainly not looking for moral victory on the stuff I get right! Let’s look about how the bible defines love. One of the best definitions is in Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthian church in chapter thirteen…

1st Corinthians 13:1 (ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing

Really I could be like these Pharisee men and look the part, even do works that God will allow me to do, but if I don’t love I have missed the point completely. Even if I am killed for my faith and give the ultimate sacrifice, I have nothing!

Jesus preached about love more than anything else, because God is love. God does not desire that any should perish but all should have eternal life. That is why he sent that aforementioned messiah that John prepared the way for. His sacrifice as the second Adam gave us the opportunity to be reconciled to God; it is not up to us to take him up on his offer of salvation.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

TTE Advent Calendar Day Ten – December 10th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Ten – December 10th

Thank you for reading our tenth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Thank you for reading this article today; this is part of an advent series where we examine prophetic claims that Jesus Christ was the messiah. Today we look at a claim that is not actually about Jesus himself but that he would be preceded by a forerunner. Let us look at the prophecy in the book of Malachi…

Malachi 4:5 (ESV) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

It is no mistake or error that the closing words of the Old Testament proclaim that one will be sent to redeem Israel and you will know that it is him because he has a forerunner. (In comparison the New Testament finishes by speaking of the grace of Christ Jesus.)

This prophecy has two fulfillments, the first of which was fulfilled in the book of Matthew chapter eleven, Mark chapter 9 and Luke chapter 1. This fulfillment was in the body of the person we know in history as John the Baptist.

No one greater than John the Baptist

Let’s look at the text in the gospel of Matthew…

Matthew 11:11 (ESV) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus was the one saying these words. He advised that “no one born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist” he said these words because although Jesus was born of a woman, he was not conceived in the natural sense. (We will see what happened here in Luke 1 later in the article)

Jesus gives confirmation that he is Elijah to come (v14) this is an answer in a way to the question that was posed to John the Baptist at the beginning of the chapter when his disciples asked “are you the one?”

John was great in the eyes of the LORD but to give him his place in the kingdom of heaven, the least were greater than he. In verse 13 we get a vital piece of information into who Jesus is. Up until that point, all the prophets had stated “The messiah is coming” but John could say “The messiah is here”. Does this tell you who the messiah is? it is of course Jesus Christ.

Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must suffer?

Let’s look at the gospel of Mark

Mark 9:11 (ESV) And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 12 And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”

Peter James and John had just had the mountain top experience to beat all mountain top experiences. They got a face to face audience with Jesus in all of his glory, with Elijah and Moses. God spoke to them, told them who Jesus was and that he was well pleased in his son’s mission.

Now they have questions, they know they are talking to the messiah and they quote the earlier verse in Malachi so they asked “where is Elijah?” So Jesus answers in the same way this article did, he advises of the two comings, that Elijah does come first to restore all things (prior to the second coming) that the Son of Man must suffer, which he was heading to do so on the cross at Calvary and concludes by stating that Elijah had come as John the Baptist, and he was killed by Herod. John came and ministered in the spirit of Elijah.

Who was John the Baptist?

Let’s look at the back story of John the Baptist in the book of Luke.

Luke 1:8 (ESV) Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

We meet Johns father and mother, Elizabeth was barren and God was about to bless them in a way far beyond anything they would have prayed for. John’s father was of the correct lineage and served in the priesthood and we read that he was a faithful man. We read that because of the amount of priests it was done by division and by lot and it fell to him to be given the task to burn incense unto the LORD.

Can you imagine what a day this was for him, he had been waiting so long to serve in this way. Dependent on the amount of worthy priests, this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I know that when I get to serve in certain ways for the LORD I do get pumped about it, I enjoy conveying God’s word and I always look forward to sharing. I am inspired when I read of this man’s life and see how faithful he was.

You can wonder about a lot of things in this situation, you wonder if he had been asking other priests what it was like back there, wondered if the LORD had a word for him in his life, wondered if he was worthy enough, you can imagine all sorts of things.

To offer the incense was seen as the most privileged position, he would be in the face of God whilst everyone else gathered and prayed from before dawn. He was in there alone in front but on the other side of the holy of holies (I mean that he hadn’t entered this) He was in the inner sanctum of the temple, about as close as a man would get to the altar.

Whilst the nation was in prayer (Could we learn something from this?) An Angel of the LORD came and spoke to him. We know he would have been praying for the nation, for himself, for a coming Messiah, to rid the land of the Romans, who knows? What we do know is that in his heart was the yearning to be a father. We read that “your prayer had been heard” and then he proceeded to advise that he would be a father and his son would be called John.

I love that the Bible is so honest, if I was face to face with an angel in that situation I think I would be scared also, something tells me he was freaking out. I am learning from this that despite how “veteran” we think our Christianity is, we can sometimes be surprised when God shows up. We shouldn’t be, but sometimes we are.

Here is a list of what he was told:

1) He would father a son called John
2) He will be great before the LORD
3) He would not drink wine or strong drink
4) He would be filled from the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb
5) He would turn many back to the LORD
6) He would have the spirit and power of Elijah
7) He would prepare the way of the LORD

Future prophetic meaning

We have to realize that it is one messiah and he will come twice, once to be the “suffering servant and the second time when he comes back to judge the world. It is truly one messiah and two comings. Let’s look at the book of Revelation chapter eleven.

Revelation 11:1 (ESV) Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, 2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, 10 and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

Elijah will return as part of the “two witnesses” who will prophesy for 1260 days prior to the second coming of the messiah. This is some feat as the world will at that point be so anti-God and the witnesses will be attacked, mocked and ridiculed. This will be why they are given tools to defend themselves. They will have power and protection from God until that time is elapsed.

Once that time is elapsed, there will be no time wasted in killing them; this will bring great rejoicing amongst those who are following the beast. They will not be buried, they will lay there for 3 and a half days and then God will raise them up. Can you imagine the stir that would cause?

This has been a long article and I apologize for the length, however it was on my heart that I needed to cover this in this way, my hope is that you find something in this article that strengthens your faith, renews your faith or sparks an interest in investigating whether Christ was indeed the messiah. Should you have any questions then please contact me or comment below.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE