Read Chapter 3:1-38..then come back..
John had spent many years, probably more than 20 years in isolation devoting himself to God's calling on his life...
Tidbit of information; John was approximately 6 months older than Jesus, so this would make him the same age as Jesus which was about 30 years old. He was also a relative, probably a cousin to Jesus.
The bible says he had lived in the wilderness. We may think of the wilderness as being out where nobody else was. Some believe it was likely that he lived with others of like-mind who had distanced themselves from the worldly views and the temptations of daily life in the big city.
In other gospels we are told he was... "..clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey". Matthew 3:4. Yuck! I'm sure glad God didn't ask me to do that...wool is scratchy and I would prefer pizza over locusts any day.... :) smile..
In verse 2 he received a "word" from God and it is translated from the Greek word rhema which means to get a direct revelation or supernatural direction from God by way of the Holy Spirit.
This word he received was his notice to begin the task to be... The voice of one crying in the wilderness:“ Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth; The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together..."
His message was strong and clear, no sweet beating-around-the-bush message. There was no room for error, no room for speculation. He didn't come speaking in parables that could be misunderstood or not understood at all ...his message was crystal clear..
The Messiah was now at hand, and all must prepare for Him by repenting of their sin and turning to God for the remission of their sin or be cast into hells fire!! I call that "short and to the point ".
John was known for making pretty blunt statements like “you Brood of Vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance!!
I like the Amplified version...When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded and said you Brood of snakes! What do you think you're doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God's judgment? It's your life that must change, ...
He warned of One [Jesus] mightier than he was and that....His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He [Jesus] will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
He was clearly declaring that Jesus would come and cause clear divisions between the wheat (believers) and the chaff (unbelievers)...That the believers would be gathered in barns (enter into the Kingdom of God) and the unbelievers would burn in hells fire..
To John..it was God's way or the highway! You were in or you were out...no straddling the fence...No lukewarmness allowed!! No wishy-washy stuff...
I wonder if someone came preaching that way today would he be accused of not be walking in the love of God? Probably..he certainly wasn't shy about calling sin what it was - sin.
In todays world so many things that God calls a sin is tolerated even within the church..Some may say, "Well, God loves the sinner so I have to love them too"...yes that is true, but God hates sin, so shouldn't we love the sinner and hate the sin just like God does?
Many people came to John asking him how they should live and he gave good advise; Share with others who are less fortunate, don't lie, or cheat by taking more than your fair share and be content with what you have. Pretty basic "Do unto others what you would have them do to you"..
He said "I baptize you with water but the One who is coming will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.."
Personally I love that analogy of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and being submerged in water baptism. My water baptism symbolizes and makes a public proclamation that I have died to my sin and am now concidered righteousness through Christs blood...
But I see the analogy differently now....I was baptized in water and I have been baptized or submerged with the Holy Spirit now too...For me it is a reminder that I am to be completely, entirely immersed in, led by and controlled by the Holy Spirit..
Many may disagree with me but I believe at least to some degree John was saying that his baptism in water was only a reflection of or symbol of when Jesus would come and baptize us in the Holy Spirit who would bring the power so we could experimentally defeat sin. Those are just my thoughts and how I choose to look at it...
I am reminded that John was baptized into the Holy Spirit even while in his mothers womb, so we know that he was acting and talking precisely the way God wanted him too.
God is love, is full of compassion and quick to forgive, but because He loves us so very much He doesn't want us to remain in slavery to our sin so He will sometimes use people to be blunt in bringing attention to our sin....
Of course I'm not ready to go live in the wilderness and start eating wild honey and yucky locust or shouting from the rooftops that people are sinners and going to hell. But I do want to show them God's love and draw men to Him by a life lived worthy of my salvation and pray for an opportunity to share why I love Him so much.
In my studies I found that repentance has two sides - I must turn away from sin and turn toward God. To be truly repentant I must do both.
I can't just say I believe and then live any way I choose, and neither can I simply live a morally correct life without a personal relationship with God because that does not bring about forgiveness from sin. ....so I must be determined to shun and run away from anything that God points out in my life and put my trust in Him to help me then do it.
Like John, I want to tell people about my Jesus, and in many ways I'm considered to be a fanatic...bible thumping fool...but it would seem that I am in good company...
I may not be put in jail like John was, but because some won't hear the message I so long to give them I am shunned or persecuted or just ignored...
I remember one time when I was talking to the Lord about this very thing and He comforted me by reminding me that not everyone listened to Him and so some won't listen to me either.
What did you learn about the story of Johns' message?