Temple Baptist Church - 4-26-2015
Introduction: Matthew 3:3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
A. The Old Testament ends with a curse while the New Testament ends with a blessing. The reason being the rejection of God’s prophets by the nation of Israel. Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
B. The Book of Malachi began what is called the “400 Silent Years.”
1. These were the years between Malachi and Matthew where there were no “inspired” writers. The Old Testament Cannon was complete and the Messiah long awaited.
2. But Israel had quit looking for a sacrifice and was now looking for a King to once again deliver them from the bondage of Rome. Throughout the Old Testament, the blood of animals was applied to the Mercy Seat as an Atonement until the Lamb of God would come and take away the sin of the world.
3. Religion had replaced salvation; the Pharisees and Sadducees had replaced the prophets; and the people, for the most part, had lost hope.
C. There have been many important people in the Bible but the entrance of John the Baptist was one of the most significant! For 4,000 years, mankind had been awaiting the coming of Messiah. John the Baptist was the forerunner of the First Advent, the birth of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.
D. John the Baptist was the “link” that bridged the gap between Old and New Testaments.
1. He was the “voice” of God! He was the “voice of ONE crying!” As Israel slept and the religionist Pharisees and Sadducees came to power, there was no longer many to “voice” Messiah’s coming. Few were there to greet the Son of God at His birth and few to observe His death, burial, and resurrection.
2. This is truly prophetic of our day as Christians sleep and the “voices” heralding the Second Coming have quietened. America, once heralding the Word of God and heeding its teachings, is now drifting into the spiritual darkness as Israel did so long ago. Religion has replaced salvation; performers have replaced preachers; entertainment has replaced worship; and worldliness has replaced the beauty of holiness.
E. I read this and do not know who to credit: John’s coming heralded a new day. As the herald of Jesus Christ he, was the connecting link between the Old and new Testaments. John closed out one era and ushered in another. Shadow would become substance; prophecy would become fulfillment; the focus would shift from Sinai to Calvary; the Gospel, salvation and the church would come front and center; and the Gentiles would be included in the family of God.
F. John came into a hostile, godless world. “Darkness” is the one-word description of the times given by Scripture of the days of John. Luke 1:79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
In our day, preceding the Second Advent, we find the same condition: no light (darkness), no hope (shadow of death), and no peace (the way of peace).
G. What did the coming of John the Baptist represent?
1. The grace of God in His dealings with Israel. Psalms 78:38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
a. God would have been perfectly just to cut Israel off forever. They had seen God’s miracles; they had been sent God’s prophets; and they had God’s Word!
b. In our day, God would be just to cut America off forever. Our nation was founded on God and biblical principles; has had some of the greatest preachers to ever walk in shoe leather; and have had God’s Word for all of our nation’s existence.
c. But God is a God of love, grace, mercy, and longsuffering! He is better to us than we deserve and He is better to our nation than it deserves.
2. The goodness of God in sending His messenger. Isaiah 40:1-3 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. (2) Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins. (3) The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
God is now sending comfort, forgiving iniquity, and preparing the way for the Messiah. Instead of chiding with Israel, God comforted them with His prophets. God does the same with America. In the midst of darkness and rejection, God’s men still are able to preach His Word.
Malachi 4:1-6 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (2) But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. (3) And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. (4) Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. (5) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: (6) And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Matthew 11:13-15 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (14) And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. (15) He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
3. The faithfulness of God to His promises. Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Jesus Christ came the first time on time and He will come again on time! God’s faithfulness to His promises is not based upon our faithfulness to Him. In Genesis 3:15, God promised the coming of the “seed of the woman,” which was Jesus Christ. We fail but God never fails.
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
2 Timothy 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
4. The way of repentance and faith for salvation. Matthew 21:32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.