60 Day Challenge - Study the Bible or Bible-Based Study Guides (of your choice) every day for 60 days. GOAL - to create a lifestyle of study.
Study Scriptures: Matthew 2-3, Malachi, Isaiah 40:3
We got an excerpt of what John was preaching in the wilderness. He preached it to the Pharisees and Sadducees. According to Isaiah 40:3, John’s role was to make the crooked paths straight, making ministry easy for the Lord.
The Lord’s Ministry
To testify of Himself as the Messiah (with teaching, signs, and wonders),
To Teach the Mysteries of the Kingdom (thus raising disciples)
To send the Holy Spirit
Therefore, John’s role was to prepare the people’s hearts by getting them ready to receive the Messiah and, later on, the Holy Spirit. He did an evangelist’s work, preaching a message of repentance. John let them know that the Messiah was coming, and He had the power to fill with the Holy Ghost. Therefore, everyone should repent, thus qualifying for the Holy Ghost.
MAKE THE CROOKED PATHS STRAIGHT
His ministry caused Jesus’ work to be more fruitful because people believed him to be a prophet. Seeing then that John confirmed that Jesus was the Christ, many automatically believed in Jesus.
Also, because he had been laboring in the hearts, Jesus could begin to teach on the coming Kingdom of the Holy Spirit. They could now receive such teachings because their hearts were already ready to receive. Their repentance gave them ears to hear.
Lastly, John rebuked the religious leaders, thus making sure that all crooked paths were made straight. This rebuke caused Jesus’ walk into the hearts of men to be void of false perceptions of righteousness that the Pharisees and Sadducees portrayed.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (“Are you coming to get baptized too, even though your deeds are evil?” Some of the Pharisees and Sadducees believed John’s message and sought baptism as a way to escape the wrath of God in the Judgement.)
8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (However, they too had to repent as any other to receive the baptism of John and the Holy Spirit. However, because their evil included public deception, i.e., portraying false righteousness, it would take them great repentance to undo their deeds.)
9 And think not to say wButin yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (“Do not think that just because you are an Israelite, means that your salvation is secure. If you do not repent you will not receive my baptism or the baptism of Holy Ghost”)
10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (Here is John’s message in the wilderness. God is examining every soul (tree), and those that do not bring forth the good fruit of repentance, will be cast into hell)
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Here, John is ministering to their mindset, “Do not think that my baptism will do you any good if you do not repent? There is one coming after me who is mightier than I. I am not even worthy as a servant to take off his shoes. He is the one you must honor and fear because He has the power to baptize you in the Holy Ghost or hellfire.)
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Here is the end of John’s message in the wilderness. He preached a message of repentance because of the coming Christ and Judgement. Christ would give the Holy Spirit to those who repented, but He would judge those who did not repent.)
John the Baptist operated in the Spirit of Evangelism.
John the Baptist
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
The Book of Malachi
The Lord only accepts perfect offerings.
Sometimes we can pride ourselves on the fact that we have done something, but is it perfect?
“Yes, I did what Pastor said.”
“Yes, I prayed.”
“Yes, I am a Christian.”
But is it done to perfection?
6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?
7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible.
8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.
If I have not given all of myself, God is not pleased with me. Anything short of ALL of me is an imperfect sacrifice; it is a blind lamb or polluted bread upon his holy altar. Anything I give Him that is not to the best of Christ who is in me is a polluted gift, and the Lord shall not receive it.
Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord.
You also say, ‘How tiresome this is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,” says the Lord of hosts, “and you bring what was taken by robbery, and the lame or the sick [animals]; this you bring as an offering! Should I receive it with pleasure from your hand?” says the Lord.
When you do for God, do you give Him your all, or is it half-hearted? Examine this.
Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.
God hates divorce and dishonest dealings in marriage. He makes provisions for divorce in the New Testament, but it is clear that it is not His preference.
For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
God is quite involved in the administration of the Church.
8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
God does not need money or meat; however, money ensures that the priests had the wherewithal to continue His ministry. God puts things in place that ensure the smooth flow of His ministry, but when people do not honor it, he becomes disgruntled at this. Therefore, He takes it personally when we have ignored His structure. You can rob God.