Summary: WE have been called to actively participate in the Kingdom.
January 8, 2012
Text: Matthew 3:1-10
Subject: John the Baptist
Title: Preparing the Way for the Work of God
I hope everyone has had a productive year so far. We’re looking forward to what God is going to do this year in His church. I said last week that I believe this is the year that God makes His presence really known among us. It began last Sunday night at our prayer meeting. WE had an incredible time in the Holy Spirit and we are expecting more.
I want to share with you today a little about John the Baptist – about who he was and also about the message that he brought. What we are going to see today is that John was paving the way for something new to the “religious” mindset. That involves change and that is a word that has invoked fear into the hearts of people from the beginning of time.
I believe the message of John the Baptist is as relevant for today as it was over 2,000 years ago. I believe the Lord is calling His church to rethink what it considers its purpose. I believe that God has something better for us today that will only be recognized when we commit our hearts to change. Newton’s first law of motion states, Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it…
We have the Holy Spirit of the Living God that is at work within us so for the church change should be a given.
Let’s look today at what God began with the ministry of John the Baptist and see how it relates to God’s plan for the church.
Read Matthew 3:1-10
I believe this is God’s word…
I believe it is for me…
I accept it as mine…
And I appropriate it to my life today…
In Jesus’ name!
I. JOHN’S MINISTRY… If we are going to look at the ministry of John we have to look at it in the context of the man. What was his purpose? Verse 1 tells us, “ In those days John the Baptist came, preaching…” As far as we know the last known prophet in Israel was Malachi. Immediately after the time of the Babylonian captivity a group of people rose up to a level of prominence in the Jewish culture. They were the scribes. Originally the scribes were the keepers of the Old Testament. It was the scribes who copied the manuscripts and diligently studied them to make sure there were no errors. As long as there was a prophet in Israel that was their role. But when the prophetic voices ceased during the inter-testament times, the scribe rose to a new position of importance. They became the teachers of the Law. This was especially significant because during this time the language of Israel began to shift from Hebrew to Aramaic. Though the two languages were similar, there was enough difference that the scribes became the ones to enlighten the common people on the true meaning of the scriptures. Out of the various interpretations of the scribes arose the sects of Judaism – the Sadducees, Pharisees, and the Essenes… OK, back to our passage. John the Baptist comes on the scene as a new voice, not at all like the others of the time. He was a prophet in the Old Testament sense. Luke 1:14-17 gives us information about John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you (his father), and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink (the Nazarite vow), and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” John went out preaching. It is interesting isn’t it that John went out preaching in the desert. Is it possible that this was symbolic of the spiritual climate in Israel at the time? Is it possible that since the desert was considered to be a place where demon spirits lived, that John the Baptist went out in the Spirit and power of Elijah to begin to take back territory that had been surrendered to satan so many years before? Verse 3, This is he who 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 ultimate purpose was to prepare the hearts of Israel for the coming of their Messiah and he did so by the message he preached.