(The Greek word, baptistes, means one who baptizes; thus, the BAPTIZER.)

1. Old Testament prophecies of John:  Isaiah 40:1-3; Mal. 3:1
   A. Isaiah 40:1-3
   Verse 3
    1. The voice (qol): the emphasis here is not on the person but on the message (voice).
    2. of one proclaiming:  qAra as a qal active participle. Again, this is the focus of his ministry.
        It is not even on the character of the messenger, other than he is characterized by his
   3. in the wilderness: The PHYSICAL location of the messenger carries an even deeper
       message. It speaks of the spiritual depravity of the nation of Israel.
       This is determined by the next sentence. “Make smooth IN THE DESERT, a highway for
       our God.” It  is NOT that a pathway is needed IN THE DESERT. The idea here is that the
       spiritual condition of the nation and the people is a DESERT – a place devoid of spiritual
   4. Clear the way: the verb is pAnAh. It means to clean away any obstacles to progress.
       It is a piel imperative as an appeal to the souls of the populace.
   5. for the LORD: YAweh is the personal name of God. It refers here to God’s arrival and His
       claim upon the lives of the people of Israel. The people need to PREPARE for the arrival of
       God who will lay claim to their lives and authority over the nation of Israel.
       The arrival of Yahweh refers to the Messianic promise that God would send a Savior.  
A. The seed of the woman: Gen. 3:15; fulfilled @ Gal. 4:4
      B. Seed of Abraham: Gen. 12:7;
13:15; fulfilled @ Gal. 3:16
      C. From Israel: Numbers 24:17 fulfilled @ Mat. 1:1-17
      D. From Judah: Gen. 49:10 fulfilled @ Mat. 1:1-3
      E. From David: Isaiah 11:1, 10 fulfilled @ Luke 1:31-33
      F. Virgin birth: Isaiah 7:14 (600 years before) fulfilled @ Mat.
      G. Born in
Bethlehem: Micah 5:2 (600 years before) fulfilled @ Luke 2:4-7
      H. Isaiah 52:13-53:12
       I. Isaiah 61:1-2a:  fulfilled @ Luke 4:16-21; John 1:32-34

   6. This is a prophecy for the arrival of John the Baptizer.
      It is quoted at Matthew 3:1-4 as referring to John.   

      John accomplishes this “clearing the way”  by announcing that the kingdom of God is at
      hand and that the Messiah has arrived.  Matthew 3:11-12; John 1:29-30; Acts 19:4
      The command itself is quoted at Mat. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23.

   Verse 4: The issue of creating volitional neutrality
   “Let every valley be lifted up
   And every mountain and hill be made low;
   And let the rough ground become a plain,
   And the rugged terrain a broad valley.”

   These images speak of a SPIRITUAL leveling maneuver. All distractions and
   encumbrances must be removed so that the issues of Messiah’s person and message can
   be heard and faced.
   This was accomplished in John’s ministry by the intensity of his message. He used
   language that was designed to SHOCK the soul into listening to the message. It did not
   automatically PRODUCE positive response, but it ALLOWED the self-consciousness of the
   soul to initially face the issues without distraction.  Matthew 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-9, 18

   Verse 5:  The revelation of God’s salvation glory
   “And the glory of Yahweh will be revealed,
    And all flesh will see it together;
    For the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”

   The GLORY of Yahweh here refers to the salvation provision made available by the
   Messiah’s arrival on the earth, and subsequent sin sacrifice on the cross.
   This is confirmed by the quote at Luke 3:6, “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
   This is also consistent with the Greek of the Septuagint translation at Isaiah 40:5.
   The word, glory, refers to some aspect of God’s CHARACTER. In this case, it is the
   revelation of God’s love and mercy that provides the savior (John
3:16; Romans 5:8;
   Ephesians 2:4).

   The idea of “together” communicates the universality of God’s salvation provision.
   It does not mean, “at the same time.” Since the focus by the Holy Spirit in the ministry of
   John, quoting the LXX, is salvation provision at the first coming, we should not look
   beyond that focus here at the source.

   This is not the same as the PHYSICAL revelation of His glory at the second coming.
    Revelation 1:7; Isaiah 52:10;

    However, as the context continues in Isaiah at verses 9-11, the focus changes to the
    second coming. Accordingly, as is the normal style, there could be BOTH advents in view
    at verse 5. Quite often the message of the prophet would use a “first-coming” factor as
    a launching pad for a “second-coming” factor.

    Verse 6

1.      “A voice says, ‘call out.’ Then he answered, ‘What shall I call out?’”

      The human messenger responds in true humility to the authority of the divine
      messenger. The following indictment on humanity is quoted by Peter at 1Pet
   2. All flesh is grass: This compares humanity to the fragile nature of vegetation (the
       stem) in order to communicate the CERTAINTY of divine judgment at the second
       coming of Messiah.

   3. and all its loveliness: This refers to the general character of humanity; mans attitudes
       and works. At 1Peter
1:24, the word glory (doxa) is used to describe that which is
       produced by humanity by way of human goodness and works.
   4. is like the flower of the field:  the analogy shows the frailty and inadequacy of human
       works in man’s attempt to relate to God.
       Isaiah 41:24, “Behold, you are of no account, and your work amounts to nothing.”
       Isaiah 64:6, “All our righteous deeds are like an unclean garment.”
       Isaiah 57:12, “I will proclaim your righteousness and your deeds, but they will not
                         profit you.”
   Verse 7
   1. The grass withers, the flower fades: Both stem and flower are temporary in the realm
       of nature. But this analogy is used to show the inadequacy of human works and the
       fact that all attempts of man to relate to God on human terms will fail.
   2. because the breath of Yahweh blows upon it: The conjunction is kiy, which means
      BECAUSE. It is the judgment of God that demonstrate all the works of man as
      inadequate and will destroy those works and unbelieving humanity as well through the
      Day-of-Lord judgments.

   3. Surely the people are grass: repeated for emphasis. This is designed to get the
      people’s attention so that they will focus on the truth of God’s character and plan.
   4. Thus at verse 8, the analogy-indictment is repeated with a DIRECT reference to the
      only solution available to man for salvation from sin and unrighteousness –
      the word of God.

   Verse 8:  The only solution is the word of God
   1. The grass withers; the flower fades:
   2. But the word of our God: specifically the message that indicts human works and
       righteousness as inadequate, and the Messianic promise as the only solution.
   3. stands forever: the verb is qūm as a qal imperfect to state a fact as true and absolute.
   4. forever is – le olAm. It means, PERPETUALLY. The nature of the perpetuity depends on
       the context. In this case, of course, it refers to ETERNITY.
   5. Thus the message of salvation is constant and unchanging from generation to
       generation. It is always to believe in the person and work of the Messiah.

B. Malachi 3:1a
“Behold, I am going to send my messenger before Me,
and he will clear the way before Me.”

 This is quoted at Mark 1:2 as being fulfilled by John the Baptizer.
     And Jesus Himself applied it to John at Matthew 11:10-11

Malachi 3:1b-3 refers to the second coming of the Messiah, when He comes in judgment.

“But who can endure the day of His coming?”
    And who can stand when He appears?
    For he is like a refiner’s fire and a washer’s soap.”

C. Malachi 4:5-6
    “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and
    terrible day of the Lord. And he will return the hearts of the fathers to the children,
    and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a
    curse of destruction.”

    This amplifies the prophecy of the first-coming messenger already mentioned by
    Malachi at verse 3:1a.
    It also looks to the second-coming messenger, who will be a resuscitated Elijah.
    The two messengers have a similar mission and John actually comes in the “spirit and
    power of Elijah.”

Luke 1:16-17, “And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.
    And it is he who will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts 
    of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, 
    so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

   Matthew 17:11-12, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things. But I say to you, that
   Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they
   wished. Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the

   Matthew 11:14-15, “And if you care to accept it, he himself is Elijah who is to come.
   He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

   And of course, Elijah is still to come in the END-TIMES prior to the arrival of
   the Day of the Lord.
   See Topic:  The Two Witnesses

    Luke 1:5-25, 57-79

   A. Luke 1:80, “And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit.”
   B. Matthew 11:11a, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not
      arisen anyone greater than john the Baptizer.”
      This refers to both his CHARACTER and his
   C. “Yet he who is less in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

       This is a dispensational factor.
       John’s ministry was local and specific, although of utmost importance.
       Thus, to date, there has been no one greater than John.
       But after John, ANYONE who becomes a citizen of the
kingdom of God, will be part of
       the new evangelistic agency. As such, at least from a ministry perspective,
       they will have a greater impact in the angelic conflict.
       It is through the church that the fullness of God’s grace, love and mercy is
       demonstrated through the fulfillment of His plan of salvation.

       It is the church as the new evangelistic body (1 Peter 2:9-10) that now has the mission
       of communicating the Messianic promise to the world.

       It is through the church that the wisdom of God will be more completely revealed to
       the angels (Eph. 3:10-11).
       It is through the church that God will complete his plan for Israel in the end-times.
       1 Cor. 10:11, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were
       written for our instruction upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

       However, from a RELATIONSHIP perspective, there is total equality in the kingdom
       of heaven. Jesus could be using hyperbole to teach this principle of EQUALITY in God’s
       kingdom. Matthew 19:30, “But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.”
       Matthew 20:16, “Thus, the last shall be first, and the first last.”


   A.   Luke 3:1 tells us that it began in the 15th year of Tiberius. This is the year 26 A.D.
         See Topic:  TIBERIUS: year 15

   B. Herod was the Tetrarch of Galilee. From 4 BC to 39 AD
       Herod Antipas the son of Herod the Great.
   C. Both Caiphas and Annas were functioning as the high priest.
       1. Annas was not actually the high priest.
       2. He was appointed by the governor of Syria in 7 AD and was deposed in 16 AD.
       3. Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas, and was the actual high priest at this time.
           He held the office from 18 AD until 36 AD.

       4. Annas retained great power and authority over the people even though he was not the
          actual high priest. He still held the primary religious control over the religious system.

   D. He started his ministry around the area of the Jordan river. Luke 3:3
        It was probably in the fall months of 26 AD. Tiberius would measure his reign from the 19th
       of August. Any earlier than the month of August, would be counted as the end of year 14.

   E. He taught a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. Mark 1:4
       1. It is not the baptism that is FOR forgiveness.
       2. The baptism is an overt testimonial to the fact of repentance – a change of mind about
          one’s belief system and the acceptance of faith in Christ as the means of salvation.
       3. The baptism is BECAUSE of repentance and the resultant forgiveness.
       4. Mark 1:4, “a baptism of repentance because of the forgiveness of sins.”

          The preposition “because of” is EIS. Sometimes it can be translated “unto” or “for or
          “upon – based on.”
          This depends on context. The rest of scripture makes it clear that forgiveness of sins comes
          BECAUSE OF, repentance and faith (Mark 1:15).

       5. Acts 10:43, “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who
           believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”

       6. At Matthew 3:11, “I baptize you in water because of repentance.”
           Here we have the same use of the preposition EIS.
       7. Also at Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized . . .  because of the
           forgiveness of your sins.”

       8. See Topic:  BAPTISM


   A. John’s ministry ws a call to return to the true Messianic expectations of the past.
       Luke 1:16-27, A return of fathers to children and children to fathers. Mal. 4:6

       1. This of course is simply the message of the eternal gospel of Rev. 14:6; Luke 3:18.

       2. Salvation reality is the forgiveness of sins provided by faith in the person and work
           of Jesus Christ. Luke 1:77-79
       3. Therefore, the central issue of John’s message was to trust in the coming Messiah/Savior.  
            Acts 19:4

       4. Accordingly, his message was a proclamation of Messiah’s –
           a. Arrival:  Mat. 3:2, 11
           b. His Person: John 1:6-8, 34
           c. His work:  John 1:29, 35-36

   B. His ministry exposed and rejected the false religious system and activity of the leaders
       and the citizenry.

       1. He used as his platform the office of a prophet rather than his inherited priestly office of a
           Levite. Luke 1:5; Mat. 3:1-4 cf. Luke 1:17a

       2. This served as a sign that the temple services had become totally corrupted, which was
           also proclaimed by Jesus. Matthew 21:12-13

       3. The message of Isaiah indicates that the nation was on the wrong road. Mark 1:2-3
       4. John exposed their self-righteousness and the falsehood of their teachings.
            Matthew 3:7-9; Luke 3:7-8

       5. The demand for fruits of repentance indicated a major failure in the overt love standards
           of Leviticus 19:9-18.  Luke 3:8-14

   C. He also exposed the moral violations of the political leadership as a failure in national
       responsibility.  This resulted in his imprisonment and subsequent beheading by those
       political leaders.  Luke 3:19-20; Mat. 14:3-12

   D. So John called for repentance. Matthew 3:2

       Repentance involves a change of mind about one’s current belief system

      1. Recognition of one’s NEED for salvation: sinfulness, Matthew 3:6

      2. Recognition of God’s salvation provision: Mark 1:4

      3. Total rejection of one’s current belief system.
          Matthew 3:8, “bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance.”

      4. Total faith and trust in the RIGHT belief system. Acts 19:4 with Mark 1:15.

   E. The issue of baptism:

      1. Baptism indicated a person’s positive response to the gospel.

      2. It was a symbol of a change of mind and a change of status.
          Rejection of religion and acceptance of Messianic reality.

      3. It indicated acceptance and identification with a new worship system under the leadership
          of the Messiah. Matthew 3:2, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
         a. John’s baptism was a symbol of identification with Messiah’s spiritual kingdom.
         b. Jesus’ baptism was the same. John 4:1-2
         c. The believer’s water baptism after Christ’s resurrection was a symbol of union with
             Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
         d. Repentance is a mental attitude and baptism was the symbol of that attitude.

         e. But John called for the OVERT expression of good works, to demonstrate that the
            change of mind was genuine.  Mat. 3:7-9; Luke 3:7

         f. If they changed their minds about Messianic truth, then they must reject all Messianic
            error. This does not involve total CHARACTER change, for that comes only through
            growth. But it does require immediate overt rejection and separation from one’s current
            belief system.

   F. At one point during John’s imprisonment, he lost his focus on Messianic reality and
       questioned whether Jesus was indeed the promised Savior. Matthew 11:2-6.

       We are told nothing more of this, but I believe the answer that Jesus gave to John relieved
       his doubts, and he died in total trust that Jesus was indeed the promised One.


Questions and comments are always welcome

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