I am a big fan of the series The Chosen. If you were to ask why, I would tell you that even though we have limited information to define the events we see on screen, there is enough information in scripture to validate that an event, such as the feeding of the five thousand, happened. To those who would include me among the false teachers because I can enjoy The Chosen and be deeply and emotionally moved by the love of God through what I see there, you need to eliminate the box that your religious practices force you to keep Jesus and God inside; they are NOT big enough to hold such love. Like the old wineskins Jesus described, you will burst if you try to take in this much love and be ruined. There is all that and the fact that I read my Bible and know immediately whether a conversation or physical act is valid according to scripture. I also apply my ability to think and ask questions like, does what I just saw invalidate the entirety of scripture and therefore need me to scream that Dallas Jenkins and the producers of the show are all false teachers, which they are not.
One of the things that surprised me was the portrayal of John the Baptizer.
John enters the scene by jumping out from behind a large bush while trying to shock and surprise Jesus, Philip, and a couple of other disciples carrying knives to subdue their fears of living in the wilderness. John is laughing while his crazy-looking hair goes in every direction. Jesus catches His breath and joins in the laughter, obviously, deeply pleased to see His cousin, that He loved. Philip, a disciple of John and now a recent member of Jesus’ team, seems used to John’s peculiar behavior and gladly gives John a big hug.
What does scripture say that might confirm that John the Baptizer was “unusual”?
“This John had his clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather girdle round his loins; his food was locusts and wild honey.”
(Matthew 3:4 Moffatt NT)
Food is the Greek word trophē, meaning nourishment or meat.
If you were to try to argue that this was the seed pods off of the Locust tree, you would be hard-pressed to convince me. It is fairly obvious that locusts were common and plentiful. Honey speaks for itself. Since I have the potential of a horrid allergic reaction to bee stings, you won’t find me playing with bees. So, yes, this is a bit unusual.
Having your clothes made from camel hair is the antithesis of a fashion statement.
Look at what Jesus said.
“Now as they were leaving, Yeshua began to talk to the crowd concerning John. “What did you go out to the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? No? So what did you go out to see? A man dressed in finery? Look, those who wear finery are in the palaces of kings! Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, even more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger before You, who will prepare Your way before You.’ “Amen, I tell you, among those born of women, none has arisen greater than John the Immerser. Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Immerser until now, the kingdom of heaven is treated with violence, and the violent grasp hold of it. For all the prophets and the Torah prophesied until the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.”
(Matthew 11:7-14 TLV)
To say the least, he was unusual.
I used to seek an answer as to why Jesus could say of John – the Baptizer,
“among those born of women, none has arisen greater than John the Immerser. Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Immerser until now, the kingdom of heaven is treated with violence, and the violent grasp hold of it.”
I used to think that the answer was associated with the belief that John was the first to be filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but I couldn’t prove that assertion, so I stopped saying it. Consider that all prophetic words from the Lord fell silent for 400 years, right before the advent of John and Jesus. Jesus, I can understand because He is the Son of God. On the other hand, John is a six-month-old baby in his mother (Elizabeth’s womb) when she had the Holy Spirit infill her.
Why, by the way, would the Holy Spirit filling Elizabeth be unusual?
Because, as Jesus told His disciples, “if I do not go away, the Comforter (Gk: paraklētos – advocate, comforter) will not come.” [John 3:16].
That could, in some minds, make the infilling of the Holy Spirit before Jesus’ return to the Father impossible or improbable at best.
“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,”
(Luke 1:39-41 ESV)
Filled is the Greek word plēthō and means to “fill,” however, it also (literally or figuratively) means to imbue or influence.
Imbue – according to Webster, is an old English word that means to dip in water to saturate it. So the key word here is to saturate.
A piece of evidence to validate the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of humans prior to Jesus departing the earth can be found when we look at this prophetess, Anna.
“And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
(Luke 2:36-38 NASB)
Anna had no television advertising and no theological training with a special emphasis on the prophetic. She, we are told, never left the temple but served day and night by fasting and praying. And yet, at the right moment in time, the Holy Spirit moved her to greet the family with the baby Jesus as they came near the doors of the temple to be circumcised. Consider one more thing about her, she was a woman. Women were not allowed to serve in the Temple, and they were certainly not permitted to participate in circumcision. Mary was restricted to the outer court for women, just as Anna would have been subject to. Since Jesus was most likely considered to be illegitimate and ostracized in any town where they were known, He would not have been able to have a Bris ceremony.
What happened next in Anna’s life?
She went about and began giving thanks to God and speaking of the Messiah to all those who were looking for the redemption of Israel. The end of this sentence is important because not everyone, even if they sit next to you in church, is looking for the redemption of Israel. In our case, the catching away of the church.
When I was too young and naive to stand up for myself, receiving the Holy Spirit was an absurd and irritating experience. We were not told that the Holy Spirit came into our lives when we received Jesus Christ.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,”
(Ephesians 1:13 ESV)
If you are a religious zealot, then what I just said probably set you into a rage because you were never taught that, and even if you were, you, much like I was, could not see the Holy Spirit as an integral part of the Godhead, the three-in-one.
Perhaps that understanding would have changed everything for you as well. I know that for most of those early years, I felt powerless.
Back to John.
“Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.”
(Matthew 3:5-6 ESV)
In a previous post I discussed how difficult it is to see Jesus coming to John to be baptized, especially since there is about a 72 mile span between the two locations.
Let’s say you read the Bible from front to back and saw many times the admonitions to offer sacrifices for your sins.
Did you see anything that instructed them to immerse in water for the forgiveness of sins?
The answer is NO. The Jews did baptize slaves and there was the ceremonial cleansing in a mikveh (a ritual bath,) where the person would discretely get naked and dunk themselves, quickly and completely, underwater in an act that indicates that they had been born anew. At this point, they were considered to be sinless, like a newborn. The problem with that is that it ignores that we are born into sin.
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
(Matthew 3:7 KJV)
Apparently, there was an association between spiritual cleanliness and an escape from the coming wrath. Since that wrath would be at least over 2000 years later, and many Jews still refuse to understand, I am not sure the logic is working for them.
“Therefore produce fruit worthy of repentance;” (Matthew 3:8 TLV)
In Matthew 3:5,6, the implication is that everyone from that region came to John to be baptized. If that was the case, then there should have been a tremendous amount of evidence that demonstrates their repentance or change of heart (for the better).
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.”
(Matthew 12:33 BSB)
First, horticulturalists have observed and studied to determine if a peach tree variety with good flavor and valuable qualities could be grafted onto a rootstock that is NOT susceptible to the nematodes in your soil. Then, because someone else did the hard work for you can trust that the fruit tree you just purchased from the garden center will have a healthy start and will, in most cases, have a rootstock that resists disease, while the upper portion of the tree that brings enjoyment will be what I consider a good variety.
Secondly, assuming that you allowed someone who realizes that issues must be overcome, such as sin in the case of a human, appropriate actions have been taken to procure a good tree. If you merely dig a hole, shove it in the ground, and walk away from it, what are the chances that it will produce good fruit or any at all? Marginal at best. So, again I have to take actions, such as nutrients, soil amendments, and water – like a drip system so that I don’t water the weeds and ensure that the tree gets adequate sunlight. In many cases, like apples, it should get satisfactory cold temperatures. Did you know that many trees produce fruit on second-year growth? That means that the trees need to be pruned to promote healthy growth.
The tree, in itself, has the innate qualities needed to be a good tree. Failure to maintain that tree and the fruit will be poor in quality and eventually inedible. Can you see how the Word of God and an active relationship with the Father promote and maintains this tree called us.
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will remain—so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.”
(John 15:16 BSB)
Our relationship with Christ is meant to produce fruit.
“Therefore, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. ”
(Romans 7:4 BSB)
And if you are not sure what your fruit is supposed to look like, there is this.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
(Galatians 5:22-23 BSB)
John the Baptizer continued to say,
“And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”
(Matthew 3:9 ESV)
Obviously, the ESV uses the word presume instead of think.
The UCRT conveys that the word “think. Gr. dokeō, *S# G1380. (Implies) Think not for a moment (Aorist). This is an idiom to be frequently met with in the Jerusalem Talmud and means be not of that opinion” (CB)
The New Living Translation conveys,
“Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.”
(Matthew 3:9 NLT)
Can you imagine that?
“Already the axe is laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire!”
(Matthew 3:10 TLV)
Dr. J Vernon McGee (who, for me, always had a rural attitude) says, “Fruit bearing is the result of having the right kind of tree. Only a fruit tree can produce fruit. He talks here about the axe being laid to the root of the tree, and the reason is that the tree is not bearing fruit.”
Let’s try to finish this until the next look at Matthew.
John is still speaking.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but after me will come One more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and to gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
(Matthew 3:11-12 BSB)
In trying to find a validation for John to baptize, I am only concerned with passages from the Torah and Tenach, the law or instructions given to Israel. I find none. I am jumping ahead a bit because Jesus spoke about this very thing.
“Let it be so now,” Jesus replied. “It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness in this way.” Then John permitted Him.”
(Matthew 3:15 BSB)
So, Jesus was fulfilling some act of righteousness. Perhaps this is it.
““Now this is what you are to do to consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve Me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams without blemish, along with unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil. Make them out of fine wheat flour, put them in a basket, and present them in the basket, along with the bull and the two rams. Then present Aaron and his sons at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and wash them with water.” (Exodus 29:1-4 BSB)
Apparently, this can be perceived as preparation for Jesus to serve as a priest in human eyes.
Have you ever wondered why denominations ordain someone as a pastor? Think about what they do: they present that person before the crowd; in Jesus’ case, it may have been a very small number of people, but for the most part, it seems to have been Pharisees and scribes. So, John would have been, unwittingly, presenting Jesus before the elders as a representative of God to serve as a priest.
Perhaps you doubt this, then consider what the writer of Hebrews tells us.
“Every high priest is appointed from among men to represent them in matters relating to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and misguided, since he himself is beset by weakness. That is why he is obligated to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not take upon Himself the glory of becoming a high priest, but He was called by the One who said to Him: “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.” And in another passage God says: “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” During the days of Jesus’ earthly life, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him and was designated by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
(Hebrews 5:1-10 BSB)
No, He is not the ominous God that will strike you down at a moment’s notice, but He can. The passage above tells us what His nature is when it says,
“He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and misguided, since he himself is (was) beset by weakness.”
I have been to the cemetery on multiple occasions with my wife. Then, one day I read this:
“Do not mistake kindness for weakness.”
God, who showed you who He was through His Son, is kind. You should have been able to pick up on that fact when He put Himself on that cross for you.
Now, as for the ominous God that we correctly understand. Very soon, He will lift His church off this earth and unleash His wrath upon a world that has repeatedly rejected Him.
Some seem to think the first half of the seven years will be a cakewalk; you could not be farther from the truth. It will be filled with heat, fire, poisoned water, death (at the hands of just about everyone,) starvation, diseases, and then the second half begins; and Jesus told us that this portion will be so bad that it will seem like no one will survive, and so God shortens this time for the sake of the Jews. Rest assured that the remaining Jews will wholeheartedly turn to the Lord by then.
I would turn to the Lord now rather than later.