by: Pastor David Huffstutler
In fulfillment to Isaiah’s prophecy, he was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Mark 1:3; cf. Isa 40:3; John 1:23). In fulfillment to Malachi’s prophecy, he was God’s “messenger,” of whom it was said, “he will prepare the way before me” (Mal 3:1). Also in fulfillment to Malachi’s prophecy, he was “Elijah the prophet” would God sent to “turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” so that God would not “strike the land with a decree of utter destruction” (Mal 4:5–6). Speaking of John the Baptist, Jesus stated, “he is Elijah who is to come” (Matt 11:14; cf. Mark 9:13), which, clarified by Luke, means that John would preach “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” that is, according to the Spirit of God that so mightily empowered His prophets to preach (cf. Luke 1:15).
His message was simple. He spoke of Christ: “he who is coming after me is mightier than I . . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11). The baptism by Spirit would come in time (Acts 2:1–3; cf. 11:15–16), and the baptism by fire would as well (cf. 2 Pet 3:10–12). In preparation for Christ’s first coming, John spoke a message that is just as important for you and I who watch for Christ to come again: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2) and “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:8).
Learning from John’s example, several characteristics and actions are worthy of repeating: