JOHN THE BAPTIST'S MINISTRY
This work is independent of any existing religions denomination, church, organisation or group.
BACKGROUND OF JOHN
Prophecies at Malachi 3:1 say “I am sending my messenger, and he will clear up a way before me. And suddenly the true Lord, whom you are seeking, will come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant will come, says Yhwh of armies". And Malachi 4:5 “Look! I am sending to you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awe-inspiring day of Yhwh 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers back toward sons, and the hearts of sons back toward fathers".
These prophecies foretold an introducing messenger similar to Elijah who would prepare the scene ahead of the coming Messiah. John had been specially lined up for this important work to be carried out at God's specifically appointed time. His assignment involved preparing people using baptism, which provided a punctuation mark in their lives. It impressed on receivers, regret over their present substandard condition and their wish to receive cancellation for their personal and Adamic sin. It marked a turning point in their lives, aligned them toward God's plans, and prepared them for what was about to happen.
John was a Levite, the son of Zechariah, a priest who officiated at the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 1:5-9). Levites could not start their ministerial work until the age of 30. This qualifying age requirement was laid down as part of God's law regarding the Levite priests, "Yhwh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2 “A census should be taken of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their families and by their paternal houses, 3 all those from 30 to 50 years old who are in the group assigned to work in the tent of meeting" Numbers 4:1-3.
This set out the age that their priestly career was to start, when they were 30 and they retired at 50. A further example of this, is Ezekiel, the son of a priest, who started serving God in his 30th year, after having spent five years in exile at Babylon "In (my) 30th year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was among the exiled people by the river Chebar (in Babylon) the heavens were opened and I began to see visions of God. 2 ... In the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin the word of Yhwh came to Ezekiel" Ezekiel 1:1-2. John was also a Levite of the family of Aaron and was therefore qualified to carry out special priestly duties on behalf of God. Yhwh would not have broken his own laws by calling John to start this priestly work before reaching the legal age of 30.
At Luke 3:1, it tells us that in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, John the Baptist commenced his active ministry, when he was thirty years old. According to historians, Tiberius Caesar commenced his reign on September the 15th in the year 14. Using the Roman system for calculating years, the 15th year of Tiberius would have started on the 16th of September of the year 28 and run through to the 15th of September 29. This argues that John would have reached the age of 30 some time between the 16th of September 28 and the 15th of September 29. Being born 30 years earlier, his miraculous birth must have occurred between the 16th of September 3BC and the 15th of September 2BC.
John was 6 months older than Jesus, who at the age of 30 was baptised by John in October of 29AD. John, therefore, must have started his special preparation work 6 months earlier in the April of 29AD and been born 30 years earlier in April of the year 2BC with the birth of Jesus following 6 months later in October 2BC. John's father, the priest Zechariah received a special visitor. This visitor was the high ranking angel Gabriel announcing to the priest that his elderly childless wife Elizabeth would become pregnant and give birth to a special son. The angel told Zechariah to call him John and that under God's direction, this son would become great and be filled with special power from birth. He would turn back many sons of Israel to their God. He would announce God's plans with the 'Spirit of Elijah', turning back many hearts of the Jewish covenanted people to get them ready as a special prepared group. This key person was assigned an extremely important preparation work within God's plan.
These announcements of Gabriel's and the following miraculous conception of Zechariah's aged wife, Elizabeth, can be calculated to July 3BC, scheduled exactly six months before the arranged miraculous conception of Jesus in January 2BC. "Elizabeth his wife became pregnant; and she kept herself secluded for five months, ... 26 In her sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin promised in marriage to a man named Joseph of David’s house; and the name of the virgin was Mary" Luke 1:24-27.
The special power John received was passed to him directly from Jesus, womb to womb. Soon after Mary conceived, she was encouraged to visit Elizabeth, as Gabriel had made a point of telling her that her older relative, Elizabeth was also miraculously pregnant by God's design, "And, look! Elizabeth your relative has also herself conceived a son, in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her, the so-called barren woman;" Luke 1:36 .
When Mary met the six months pregnant Elizabeth, it caused the baby in Elizabeth's womb to respond violently to the close proximity of the newly conceived baby in Mary's womb. It is then that Elizabeth and the unborn baby John become filled with special spirit power, causing this violent leaping reaction of John to Jesus while both are in the womb. "As Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the infant in her womb leaped; and Elizabeth was filled with holy spirit, and she called out with a loud cry and said: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! So how is it that this privilege is mine, to have the mother of my Lord come to me? For, look! as the sound of your greeting fell upon my ears, the infant in my womb leaped with great gladness” Luke 1:41-44 .
At this point, John receives a power transference; the unborn baby John in Elizabeth's womb responds to the higher rank of the newly conceived baby in Mary's womb as his Lord. They had a very special relationship. Everything had been meticulously calculated back from the all important date set for the great ransom sacrifice, upon which everything hinged.
ANTICIPATION OF AN 'ELIJAH TYPE'
During this time period, many Jews, based on their understanding of various bible prophecies, were anticipating the appearance of an Elijah 'type' character to herald the appearance of a Messiah. One major prophecy relating to this Messiah was Daniel's "70 Weeks of years".
"And you should know and have the insight [that] from the going forth of [the] word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah [the] Leader, there will be seven weeks, also sixty-two weeks. She will return and be actually rebuilt, with a public square and moat, but in the straits of the times. “And after the sixty-two weeks (69 weeks) Messiah will be cut off, with nothing for himself. And the city and the holy place the people of a leader that is coming will bring to their ruin. “And he must keep [the] covenant in force for the many for one week (70th week); and at the half of the week he will cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease" Dan 9:25-27.
Sixty nine weeks = 483 days converted to years = 483 years (Ezekiel 4:6 Numbers 14:34). The word to restore went out in 455 BC (Nehemiah 2:1). Calculating from 455 the Christ should appear 483 years later in 29AD More information on this prophecy. These many prophecies were why so many Jews in 29AD were expecting the Messiah and prepared to listen to John and get baptised in readiness, considering he was possibly the prophesied one, like Elijah, to prepare things before the Messiah arrived (Malachi 4:5). Further prophetic information on this Elijah preparation work is found in Isaiah.
"Listen! Someone is calling out in the wilderness: “Clear up the way of Yhwh, you people! make the highway for our God through the desert plain straight. Let every valley be raised up, and every mountain and hill be made low. And the knobbly ground must become level land, and the rugged ground a valley plain. And the glory of Yhwh will certainly be revealed, and all flesh must see [it] together, for the very mouth of Yhwh has spoken it" Isa 40 3-5.
Many were looking forward to the coming of a Messiah King, mostly under the wrong assumption that when he arrived, he would place the Jewish nation as the world number one, and free it from the power of the then controlling Roman world power.
JOHN'S WORK CONFIRMED
The first public confirmation of the coming fulfilment of these prophecies came in spring of the year 2BC, when John the Baptist was 8 days old. His father Zechariah under power from God prophesied-
"What will this young child really become?" For the hand of Yhwh is indeed with him. 67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with special power, and he prophesied, saying 68 "Praised be Yhwh the God of Israel, because he has turned his attention and arranged deliverance for his people 72. Thus he has shown the consideration promised to our forefathers and has remembered his exclusive covenant 73, the pledge that he swore to Abraham our forefather 76, But as for you child, (John) you will be called prophet of the Most High, overseen by Yhwh you will go in advance preparing his course 77. Giving knowledge to his people about salvation through release of their sins" Luke 1:66-77 .
Preparations by then were well underway. Six months later, in the year 2BC, when Jesus was just 40 days old, God confirmed this saving by release of sins through Simeon and a female prophet, Anna.
"Look there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was righteous and reverent, waiting for Israel's consolation, and holy spirit was upon him 26, Furthermore, it had been divinely revealed to him by holy spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the anointed of Yhwh 27. Under the power of the spirit he came into the temple; and as the parents brought the young child Jesus in to carry out the customary practice according to the law, 28 This man received it into his arms and blessed God and said 29: "Now, Sovereign Lord, you are letting your slave go free in peace according to your declaration; 30 because my eyes have seen your means of saving 31 that you have prepared in sight of all the people 32, a light for removing the veil from the nations and praise for your people Israel" Luke 2:25-32.
"There was a prophetess Anna ... 37, and she was a widow eighty four years old, who was never missing from the temple, rendering sacred service night and day with fasting and supplications 38 And in that very hour she came near and began returning thanks to God and speaking about (the child) to all those waiting for Jerusalem's deliverance" Luke 2:36.
THE HERALD ARRIVES
Thirty years later, in the autumn of 28AD, John came out of the wilderness, after having been kept in separation from the main Jewish religious system, and began his all important, specially ordained, preparation work. God's herald was to prepare the stage and many of the cast. He had been directed to separate himself from the various religious divisions that the Jews had separated into, Sadducees, Pharisees etc. With power and direction from God, he lived in the deserts until the time came for him to address Israel, "And the young child went on growing and getting strong in spirit, and he continued in the deserts until the day of showing himself openly to Israel" Luke 1:80. Living in the desert with few comforts, clothed in camel's hair, eating locusts and wild honey, he separated himself from the corrupt Jewish religious system and its traditions, living a solitary lonely life.
"But .. John had clothing of camels hair and a leather girdle around his loins; his food was insect locusts and wild honey" Luke 3:4. "As it is written in the book of .. Isaiah the prophet: “Listen! Someone is crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of Yhwh, you people, make his roads straight" Matthew 3:4.
When John reached the age of 30, God directed him to deliver a witness to Israel. For six months from April of the year 29AD, he advertised this message from the wilderness, exclusively to the covenanted Jewish people, to repent and get ready. Saying: “I am a voice of someone crying out in the wilderness, ‘make the way of Yhwh straight,’ as Isaiah the prophet said" John 1:23. “REPENT, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near” Matthew 3:2.
Those Jews who listened and turned around, John primed into a group, alert to important fast approaching events. The time was arriving, when the long awaited Messiah of Yhwh was to appear. From the various divisions of the Jewish religion, John formed a prepared responsive group, steering them towards the coming anointed one of God. He was given six months to turn many Jewish covenanted peoples' attention back to these important issues, in the same manner that Elijah had to prepare people for Yhwh.
"Many of the sons of Israel will he turn back to Yhwh their God. 17 Also, he will go before him with Elijah’s spirit and power, to turn back the hearts of fathers to children and the disobedient ones to the practical wisdom of righteous ones, to get ready for Yhwh a prepared people" Luke 1:16-17 .
PREPARATIONS DURING 3 BC to 29 CE
July 3 BC January 2 BC April 2 BC October 2 BC April 29 October 29
PREPARATION WORK CARRIED OUT BY JOHN
1. He comes from the 'Wilderness'.
Luke 1:80 "the young child went on growing and getting strong in spirit, continuing in the deserts until the day of showing himself openly to Israel". John 1:23 said: “I am a voice of someone crying out in the wilderness, ‘make the way of Yhwh straight,’ just as Isaiah the prophet said.”
2. Announces God is turning attention back toward his people.
L1:68 "Blessed be Yhwh the God of Israel, because he has turned his attention and performed deliverance toward his people".
3. He identifies a more important one who baptises in Holy Spirit.
L1:69 "He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David his servant, L3:16 ..“I, for my part, baptise you with water; but the one stronger than I am is coming, whose sandals I am not fit to untie. He will baptise you people with holy spirit and fire. John 1:33 Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptise in water said to me, ‘Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one that baptises in holy spirit".
4. John announces benefits from the Abraham covenant.
L1:72-73, "To perform the mercy in connection with our forefathers and to call to mind his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to Abraham our forefather",
6. Give knowledge of a new concept 'Cancelling sin by Ransom'.
L1:77 "To give knowledge of salvation to his people by forgiveness of their sins".
7. Announced new enlightenment, understanding & directions.
L1:78 because of the tender compassion of our God. With this [compassion] a daybreak will visit us from on high.
L1:79 to give light to those sitting in darkness and death’s shadow, to direct our feet prosperously in the way of peace.”
8. He warned the Jewish Religious divisions of their impending end.
L3:8-9 do not start saying within yourselves, ‘As a father we have Abraham.’ For I say to you that God has power to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 Indeed, the axe is already in position at the root of the trees; every tree, therefore, not producing fine fruit is to be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
JOHN'S 'ELIJAH' ACTIVITY
John informed his followers that a far more important person than himself, with greater rank and power, would be following him and who would baptise with fire and spirit, separating people for selection or rejection by God. Yhwh instructed John to offer responsive Jews something that, up until then, had not been done before, a water baptism. A symbolic token act by an individual of a repentant attitude toward their previous transgressions of the Mosaic Law and failing to live up to its conditions. This water baptism was a public demonstration of a repentant attitude over their sins committed against the covenant. Preparing them by lifting their heads and turning their hearts back to an appreciation of God, in readiness to see His coming means for saving them from these sins. The 2,000 year old Abraham contract was about to mature with national benefits. God directed John to offer this baptism as a first step.
Six months after John, Jesus reached the age of 30, his appointment on the world stage had arrived. Confirmed directly by God verbally at his unique baptism in October of the year 29, "After being baptised Jesus. (Mark 1;10) directly after coming up out of the water (Luke 3:21) was praying and the heaven was parted open (Matthew 3:16) and John saw descending (Luke 3:22) the holy spirit in the bodily shape like a dove came down upon him and a voice came out of heaven saying "You are my Son the beloved I have approved you" .
John, after baptising Jesus, handed over some of his specially 'prepared' disciples to him, identifying Jesus as the great sacrificial Passover lamb that would remove Adamic sin and its death dealing effects from the world "The next day he beheld Jesus coming toward him, and he said: “See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29.
Approximately eight months after this, in the summer of 30AD, John was imprisoned by Herod. By this time, his advertising and preparation work had been completed. The 500 year old prophecy of Malachi 3:1 "I am sending my messenger, and he must clear up a way before me, the Lord whom you people are seeking and the messenger of the covenant will certainly come" had been fulfilled.
While John was in prison some months before he was executed, Jesus confirmed the importance of John's assignment. He stated that John's work, up until then, was the most important that had ever been done by anybody on God's behalf. No one had served God in a greater capacity than John the Baptist, including men who were friends of God, such as Noah, Abraham and Moses; so important was John's assignment. Nevertheless, Jesus pointed out John would not be one of those specially selected for Kingdom rulership, they would all hold higher rank than John, "Truly I say to you people, Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is" Matthew 11:11.
Jesus understood, according to God's script, that John the Baptist would be dead before the new Kingdom contract would be opened on Pentecost of the year 33. This took the opportunity out of John's time frame. Otherwise, John would certainly have been one of the first in line for inclusion.
It is likely that John was aware that he would not be part of the "Bride" group of Kingdom selected ones. He referred to himself as being a friend of the bridegroom when he said "He that has the bride is the bridegroom, however the friend of the bridegroom when he stands and hears him has a great deal of joy on account of the voice of the bridegroom. Therefore this joy of mine has been made full" (John 3:29). When John heard about the things Jesus was saying and doing, he enjoyed a great deal of pleasure and felt completely happy about it.
John fulfilled the Elijah preparation work that God arranged in the first century. However, Jesus prophesied there would be yet another Elijah work to come in the future, at Matthew 17:10-12. Again, announcing and preparing individuals for the second presence of Jesus in connection with the Kingdom contract see Revealing the Sons of God.