Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BRAND (01/12/17)
- TITLE: Foretold
By PamFord Davis
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John the Baptist was a firebrand; with a burning conviction for truth, he preached repentance.
"In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!' For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
'The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.'
Now John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, 'Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto 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. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:1-12 NKJV)."
John, with fire of the Holy Spirit, effectively wielded his words. Through the use of fiery imagery, he labeled spiritual leaders vipers. It was not the way to garner their approval.
He did have praise from his Lord.
"Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (Matthew 11:11 NKJV)."
Today, as then, true repentance results in a great change of behavior. Those without fruits of repentance are in grave danger.
"Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.'
So the people asked him, saying, 'What shall we do then?'
He answered and said to them, 'He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.'
Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, 'Teacher, what shall we do?'
And he said to them, 'Collect no more than what is appointed for you.'
Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, 'And what shall we do?' So he said to them, 'Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages (Luke 3:8-14 NKJV)."
How did intimidation lead to John the Baptist's arrest?
King Herod felt threatened by the messages of John.
"But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison (Luke 3:19-20 NKJV)."
The evil king shut the mouth of this firebrand.
"So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother (Matthew 14:10-11 NKJV."
Filled with the Spirit, Zechariah, had prophesied.
"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:76-79 NKJV)."
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