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The Prophet Of The Judean Wilderness
The "wilderness of Judea" was a generally uninhabited area located between the depths of the Dead Sea (see The Salt Sea) and the highlands of Hebron. The prophet John (most-often called "John the baptist) lived out there at times, perhaps partly as a matter of choice, perhaps partly because the truth that he preached made him no longer welcome in Jerusalem (John's father was a Temple Levite in Jerusalem, so John had grown up in the city).
"1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia [see Levites]: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
"And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah ... to make ready a people prepared for the Lord"
The purpose of John's ministry was to announce the arrival of The Messiah.
"3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea [see The Jordan River], 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 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 quote of Isaiah 40:3; see notes for Isaiah 40-42].
John baptized people as a demonstration of their repentance. Is there also a "baptism" for those who refuse to repent? Yes, there is, as John warned the hypocritical Pharisees (see Baptism Of Fire).
"3:7 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? 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 3:10 And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Christ lived a life of example. His baptism was not a matter of repentance, but as a matter of what baptism also represents - resurrection (see Resurrections): "6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Romans 6:3-5 KJV).
"3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
Fact Finder: When John's work was completed, how did his ministry end?