In this article we will consider the last words of the prophet Malachi and see John the Baptist as a "Divine Turning Point".  "Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 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".(Mal.4:5-6)  Even when Israel had earthly kings such as Saul, God still ruled in their midst by prophets such as Samuel. So during these 400 years from Malachi to Matthew the silence of the prophets of God would prove to be disastrous. History looks back to this time and calls it "a dark period". The sects such as the Scribes and Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Sanhedrin Court became very powerful and influencing during this dark time. This forced our All-Seeing God to say; without a turning of hearts I will smite the earth with a curse! 

     This turning of hearts would prove to be a monumental task and would require a man who ate locust and wore rough hairy garments. He would be the last from a long line of Aaron. For a few moments forget the natural and look into the spiritual. The focus of John's "baptism of repentance" will not affect all children but like Cupid's arrow is aimed straight for the heart of the "children of promise". John represents a vital turning point in God's plan of redemption : "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand".(Matt.3:2) This turning will bring God's covenant with Father Abraham into reality . The children are the "seed of the promise" and the Fathers are Abraham Issac and Jacob, and any other Old Testament Man who has ever infected you with Inspiration and Truth !  Praise His Mighty Name !!

     "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him."(Matt.3:13)  This river Jordan is a huge turning point!  John who is called the "forerunner" and "friend of the bridegroom", will work side by side with Jesus in allowing Jesus to accomplish part of His mission to totally fulfill the Law of Moses and to accomplish all the writings of the prophets.(see Matt.5:17) Both Zacharias and Elizabeth were from the lineage of Moses and Aaron . John himself came in the Spirit and Power of Elijah. Then in a category all His own stands Jesus the fulfillment of the Old and the bringing in of the New!  Consider what is represented that distinctive day in Jordan's River. The Law of Moses, John represents the Prophets, Aaron and Zacharias represent the Priesthood, Elizabeth represents all the barren wombs of Israel who longed to be a part of this brand new kingdom. And Jesus the cornerstone represents the Kingdom of our Father's Heart. "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."(Matt.3:16-17)  What an empowerment! Now the heavens can be opened, the Spirit of God in the form of a Dove now abides permanently on Jesus, and the only begotten Son of God has His Father's approval !

    "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John." (Matt.11:12-13)  It is clear to see John the Baptist marked the end of an era. The Jew's religion had ran its course and the good news of Jesus begins with its free gift of salvation. The yearly sacrifice of the priest is no longer what God wants, but now He demands us to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. From the beheading of John to the crucifixion of Jesus, we can see how the kingdom suffered great violence. For the majority, believing on Jesus just enough to have their sins forgiven so they can go to heaven when they die, this entails their gospel of salvation. However, there is a remnant whose hearts burn to take the kingdom by force. We hunger for everything God has purposed and long for the fullness of the kingdom that takes us beyond the gospel of salvation. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come". (Matt.24:14) Notice what the apostles preached: "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God".(Acts 14:22)  To achieve the "high calling" of God and operate out of the "mind of Christ", our hearts must likewise turn toward the precepts of God. An inward determination and fierce passion places us on the level high enough to enter this glorious "kingdom of violence".

     "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".(Matt.11:11)  Lest we become arrogant, we should understand this statement. In my flesh I am in no wise greater than John, however because of what Jesus did, I am being conformed to the image of the Son. As great as John was, he was not a son! "For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."(Rom.8:29)  John was part of an Old Covenant, we are blessed to be part of the  Kingdom of God ! "And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.".(Luke13:29-30) What an honor God has given us !

In-Christ Always Elmer Hart


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