John the Baptist was a first cousin of Jesus of whom Jesus said in Matthew 11:11 “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.”
John was a prophet, but not a prophet like those of the Old Testament, or of today. John preached one message and one message only, as told in Matthew 3:2-3 “’Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 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 his ministry, John baptised people as they confessed their sins and called all who came near to hear his message. He also confronted the religious authorities of the day as well as those leaders whose lives demonstrated hypocrisy. But ultimately, John’s ministry was to prepare for Christ’s first coming. At the commencement of Jesus’ own ministry and after His baptism by John, John’s mission was complete. The Lord Himself announced the arrival of His son’s ministry and the completion of John’s mission as “a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’”
In Matthew 3:12 John describes the coming of the Messiah, “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 part of John’s prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.
In Matthew 24:4-14 Jesus replied to the question: “what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”
“And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Without doubt, we are close to the end. Christian evangelists are apparently close to completing the task for proclaiming the Gospel throughout the whole world – to every household. (See Every Home for Christ) Indeed, this generation is probably the first in which this has been possible.
Psalm 89:14 tells us what is in the Lords heart when it says “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” Righteousness and justice are what are in desperately short supply in this present age – but these foundational qualities are what Christians are call to be, at all times and in all occasions. Micah 6:8 clearly confirms what God wants from us for “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
The end times are here. The words of John the Baptist ring out true and clear again today “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Not only do we have the words of John himself recorded especially for us in this time, we also have the words of our Prophets, the spiritual sons and daughters of John the Baptist who also cry out the same message on his behalf. Through them, the Holy Spirit is giving God’s own rhēma words, His own spoken new words of today, for today, for us to hear and use.
We have been given ears to hear, eye to read and brains to understand the Word, yet even many Christians do not, nay, will not by choice, take it seriously. They will not take their God given duty seriously. Jesus is clear on what will happen in this circumstance, for these are His words: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
And what happens to those whom the Lord rejects? We have the definitive answer in Matthew 25:41, in His own words as Jesus makes it crystal clear: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
The Lord has given us a choice: Eternal life in heaven or Eternal fire.
Amen and Amen.