Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ray Vanderlaan June 27, 2013

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The Path to the Cross
The way of John the Baptist

Living for God was never meant to be easy; looking at the land of the Bible, you can even take examples of that rugged terrain and seeing hard it was to live for Him.  It is a refining experience.
  • Was John the Baptist an Essene?  He was the son of a righteous priest and his wife, Zachariah and Elizabeth, and if you read that from a jewish point of a view, it's a redundant statement to have said "Righteous" and "Priest".  The fact that you have to actually state that they were righteous tells you the corruption of the times.  
    • Zachariah was told that John would be in the spirit of Elijah - that is the ultimate passionate man.  If you are to be in the spirit and power of Elijah, he was going to be ON FIRE! John was going to be in that power.  
    • Notice two things; have you ever thought about where John baptized.  It wasn't just in the water, he baptized all around the Jordan, three named: 
      • A place called Bethany beyond the Jordan, up both by the Sea of Galilee way up north - not where Jesus was baptized.  The second place, at a placed called Aenon near Salem.  About halfway from Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.  The third place, where Jesus IS baptized, at the north end of the Dead where the Jordan runs.  Just to the right of it by a spring may have been the place. John wasn't baptizing in the river proper, but in a small tributary that they considered part of the Jordan.  Those are also three Elijah spots.  The first where he hid and was fed by Ravens.  The second where Elijah called Elisha.  The third is where the chariot came and Elijah made his assent into heaven and Elisha too over for him.  
  • This is a great way to help us understand that John is Elijah.  John wore Camel hair with a leather belt.  That may not be unusual, expect the only other person in the Bible that is mentioned as wearing that way is Elijah.  
  • John grew up in the desert; Luke 1 - the child grew and became strong until he grew up and appeared in public.  The Essenes took children that they didn't want tainted by the world and would raise them up. It is possible that this is what happened with John. 
    •  He was strong in spirit.  Moses didn't listen because he was CRUSHED in spirit - John came to become strong in spirit.  At that point, Jesus came to him and Jesus was also in the desert.  This is where we learn what John's message was.  He was preaching the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.  The wording and language implies a very close, intimate closeness.  When John came preaching the kingdom of heaven, he was preaching that we needed to see and acknowledge God as Lord and to obey Him.  REPENT from what we have been doing and follow God.  When Jesus showed up, John recognized Him as holy.  Mark 1 /Isaiah 64 - The heavens were ripped open and the Spirit of God came down.  "THIS IS MY SON THE CHOSEN ONE - Isaiah 42 and Psalm 2"  

  • The message of John sounds very much like the message of the Essene - therefore was he an Essene.  On the yes sign, he's in the dessert, similar baptism, he was against the Temple, his vocabulary sounded Essene - a brood of snakes.  There are many similarities.  On the no side, there is no reference of him from the Essene or from Josephus at all, John is very much a public figure calling people to repentance; the Essenes were secluded and did not come out looking or invited that type of repentance, and third John sent people back into the world that the Essenes told people to withdraw from. This passionate Elijah of a man who came to prepare the way so Jesus would come also needed to be shaped and molded. 
  • John like the Essenes preached a message of "repent" so when Herod Antipas the king of the Jews divorced his own wife in order to marry the wife of his brother, John stood up and publicly declared the adultery.  That obviously didn't sit well with Herod, but John was well-liked by all.  Herod arrested him and was afraid to hurt him, so he imprisoned him instead.  Josephus said Herod imprisoned John at the "Sword" a giant fortress.  
  • He called two of his disciples and told them to find the Rabbi Jesus and ask Him, "Are you the coming one or not?"  Matthew 11
    • What happened at this point?  He was supposed to be the on fire passionate dessert man.  In the cultural setting, he probably did not lose his faith in Jesus, what troubled him rather was in the Old Testament - the Messiah is predicted, but also someone called "The Coming One " Malachi 3/Zecharaiah 9 and the Zechariah.  Perhaps he was asking, "I know you're the Messiah, but are you the Coming one as well?"  John's sermons are about fire and judgement, all the things the Jews believed the "Coming one" would do.  Perhaps he thought he mistook who the Coming One was.  Where is the fire?  After the COming One is mentioned in Zechariah is also says "He will set the prisoners free".  John was in prison.  Is it possible that he was wondering why he had not been freed?  Jesus responded 'the bling see the lame wrong the leper is cured the dead are raised, the poor hear the good news."  The end times charts were off, Jesus is the Messiah, but the first coming is not about judgement and fire, it's about love for people are experiencing chaos, its about sitting with the sinner, touching the leper, feeding the hungry.  That's how the Kingdom comes.  He does not mention that the prisoners were set free.  The next coming, the prisoners shall beset free. 

John was brought out before Herod into one of his banquet hall rooms during a party and was beheaded.

We must be a John the Baptist - everything about him pointed to Jesus.  Everything he said and did pointed to Jesus.  And when you fail seek His forgiveness.  We will not see it all happen, just as he did not, but go at it and for it.  Have the fire and have the courage to speak what you believe, convicted yet loving.  Even to powers above you.  Live as John the Baptist.  Be on fire as the desert man.  John died alone at the hands of a wicked man because what he believed was deep in him.  May God raise up a generation of Essenes who love the text and Johns who live and die for that Book.  And may everything we do point to Jesus the Messiah.

It's a great honor to be called to His work and Kingdom.

Make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. - Isaiah 40

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