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Tuesday, July 12 2011
What Was Strange About John The Baptist?
There is a common misunderstanding that John the Baptist (see The Prophets: John The Baptist) was somehow strange - in appearance, diet, behavior or what he preached. That misapprehension is usually based on John's description in some of these verses:
"3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand [see The Gospel of The Kingdom of God]. 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.
"Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?"
John was not some sort of wild-looking freak, as many have implied. John was not born in the wilderness; he was born in the city, of Temple-service Levite parents (see Rabbi John). During the time of his own prophesied "wilderness" ministry however (see How Long Was John's Ministry?), John lived in the area around the Jordan River. His clothing (i.e. durable camel hide and leather, rather than light cotton or linen) was normal for everyone who lived there, making John indistinguishable from others. On the other hand, if John had dressed in the way that was "normal" for him back in Jerusalem, his appearance would have seemed strange (e.g. like the character on the TV show Green Acres in which a lawyer from Manhattan moved to a farm - but continued to dress as though he was still in New York, doing farm chores in a suit). Jesus Christ plainly addressed that "no Green Acres" reality about John the Baptist (which was just as true about the Messiah Himself):
"11:8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses." (Matthew 11:8 KJV)
What about John's diet? Again, it was a real-life practical matter. While in the wilderness, John lived in a time and place where there wasn't a grocery store or restaurant a few minutes away. John ate what was normal for the people there to eat. As well, everything that John would have eaten would have been clean according to God's dietary laws, which were and are based on principles of good health, not "religion." Specific "locusts" were clean, as was wild honey - a defining substance of the promised land itself i.e. "a land flowing with milk and honey" (see Milk and Honey).
"11:22 Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. 11:23 But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you." (Leviticus 11:22-23 KJV)
John's behaviour and preaching seemed "strange" to the deceived world of that time (just as the Truth still does in the same deceived world today) because John was a genuine teacher and prophet of God's Word. John was not self-righteous (see Do You Want A Servant Or A Serpent?) and self-worshiping (see Is Your Religion Your Religion?). John was truly righteous, according to the Word of God that he taught and lived by - just as did the Messiah whose coming John's ministry prepared "the way" for i.e. "I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."
"7:26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 7:27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
The Messiah's statement "What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?" (Matthew 11:7 KJV) defined John's life and ministry. Unlike the frauds and hypocrites ("O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Matthew 3:7 KJV), John stood upright and strong in his service to the Word of God. He was not like "a reed shaken with the wind" - whether in fear of any man, or from a lack of steadfastness in himself. The apostle Paul later explained the principle:
"4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:14-15 KJV)
Fact Finder: Why was John martyred? Was it committed by people who obeyed God's Law, as John did, or was it committed by people who made themselves a law unto themselves?
This Day In History, July 12
100 BC: Julius Caesar was born (historians differ over whether the date was July 12 or 13).
927: England was unified by Athelstan.
1191: The armies of the Third Crusade (1189-92), led by England's King Richard ("The Lionhearted"), captured the Syrian seaport of Acre.
1290: Jews were expelled from England by order of King Edward I.
1543: England's King Henry VIII married Catherine Parr, his sixth, and last, wife.
1580: The Ostrog Bible, one of the earliest Bibles in a Slavic language, was published.
1609: Henry Hudson first saw the North American continent.
1690: The Battle of Boyne, the most important date on the Northern Ireland Unionist calendar; on that date, William of Orange vanquished his Catholic rival, King James II, in a victory that established England's Protestant ascendancy. It is celebrated in Northern Ireland by "Orangemen" and resented by Catholics to this day.
1691: William III defeated the allied Irish and French armies at the Battle of Aughrim, Ireland.
1704: In areas occupied by Sweden, the gentry deposed Augustus, elector of Saxony, as king of Poland and elected Stanislaw Leszczynski, the chief official of Poznan, king of Poland.
1794: British Admiral Lord Nelson lost his right eye at the siege of Calvi, in Corsica.
1806: The Confederation of the Rhine was established in Germany.
1812: During the War of 1812 (1812-1814), the U.S. invaded Canada at Windsor, Ontario.
1918: The Japanese battleship Kawachi blew up at Shunan, Japan; over 600 of its crew were killed.
1941: Moscow was bombed by the German Luftwaffe for the first time.
1944: Winston Churchill made the decision to allow Jews to form a military unit to fight the Nazis; 2 months later, the Jewish Brigade, 25,000 strong, was formed. Without Churchill, the Jews would never have got it, and the experience of working together at the brigade level was critical to the Jewish military success 4 years later - in the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
1974: President Richard Nixon's aides G. Gordon Liddy, John Ehrlichman and two others were convicted of conspiracy and perjury in connection with the Watergate crimes.
1994: Germany's Constitutional Court lifted the ban on use of German troops for combat missions outside of the country.