Today, let’s talk for a moment or two about John the Baptist. His appearance here in Matthew chapter three is significant because God has not had a prophet on the earth since Malachi, who lived roughly around 400 BC.
God had been silent. He had left Israel to their own devices, and they had grown proud of themselves and their supposed observance of the Law, and they were insensitive to sin.
Then, all of a sudden, out of the wilderness, comes this crazy looking guy dressed in a robe of camel’s hair with a leather belt. This outfit, besides being unusual, would have signaled to the people that this was a prophet, because they were known to wear rough materials , not fine worldly things.
His diet was as unusual as his dress. He ate locusts and wild honey. This also showed that he was not interested in earthly niceties, but ate only to maintain life.
After a silence of 400 years, God sent John the Baptist to wake up the people. They had truly fallen spiritually asleep. And John came as a voice crying in the wilderness. What happens when a baby cries? It commands everyone’s attention. John’s mission was to get the people’s attention. What was his message? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!”
Repent? Repent from what? John was telling them to wake up and change their way of thinking. To repent is to have a change of mind and heart. Once that happens, behavior changes.
The people thought they were just fine. Remember, they had grown complacent during God’s silence. But they were far from Him. John was telling them that they were NOT fine. They needed to change and get ready for the soon coming of the kingdom of heaven.
And many people heard John’s message, believed and were baptized. But the religious establishment, those who relied most on their outward observance of the Law to feel self righteous and smug, came to see John but did not believe his message was for them. And he told them of the coming wrath.
Of course we know that many of them never did allow themselves to believe.
Just as there were smug, self righteous non believers in John the Baptist’s time, there are smug, self righteous non believers today who do not believe that Jesus is coming. Our job, my friend, is to be a voice to them. Not many believed then, and not many will believe now. But we are not responsible for the numbers. That is in God’s hand. We must simply do that which we are called to do. Be his voice.