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Thursday, April 11 2013

The Mothers Of The Two Greatest Prophets

The purpose of the ministry of John the Baptist was to prepare the way for the beginning of the Messiah's Ministry: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I."

John In The Wilderness

"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 Christ Died For Repentant Sinners]. 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.

3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey [see What Was Strange About John The Baptist?]. 3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 3:6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

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 axe 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 [see Who Can Be Saved?].

3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire [see What Happens After The Messiah Returns?]: 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

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? 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 3:16 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: 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:1-17 KJV)

Keeping in mind that the Messiah's own prophetic Ministry hadn't yet begun, the Messiah then declared "there is not a greater prophet than John." That changed when John's ministry ended and the Messiah's Ministry began ("3:28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease" John 3:28-30 KJV), thereby thereafter making the Messiah the greatest prophet. By the Messiah's own words, the two greatest prophets of all time were Himself and John the Baptist.

"11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence [i.e. violation of God's Law; see Violence], and the violent take it by force. 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 11:14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 11:15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 11:12-15 KJV)

"7:24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 7:25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. 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.

7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (Luke 7:24-28 KJV)

"The child grew, and waxed strong in Spirit"

The mothers of the Messiah and John were unique in that both of them had their firstborn children by miraculous means - Mary was a virgin (see What Does The Bible Really Say About Mary?), while Elizabeth had been childless for her entire life, and moreover was by then far beyond the natural age of childbearing.

The birth of John was announced to his father Zechariah, a Temple-serving Levite in Jerusalem (see The Origin Of The Levite Priesthood and Leviticus: The Prophecies Of Christianity).

The Holy Place

"1:5 There was in the days of Herod [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Herod], the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: 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.

1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, 1:9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 1:12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 1:16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

1:18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 1:20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

1:21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. 1:22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among ment." (Luke 1:5-25 KJV)

A few months later, the announcement of her impending miraculous conception was made to Mary. Many people recognize that the "sixth month" in verse 26 below refers to the Hebrew calendar month (Mary hadn't yet even conceived, nor was there any mention of Elizabeth at that point), while the "sixth month" in verse 36 obviously refers to Elizabeth's pregnancy.

The sixth month of the Hebrew calendar occurs in late summer, August-September on the Roman calendar - Mary was not yet pregnant in August-September, making a December 25 birth impossible. As stated in the Scriptures below, Mary conceived sometime in the next few months - which would make the Messiah's birth occur in early autumn of the next year (see also Does Rome Have Christ's Birth Certificate?).

"1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

1:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her." (Luke 1:26-38 KJV)

Mary and Elizabeth knew each other, but the Holy Spirit in them knew itself even more.

The Visitation

"1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 1:40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 1:45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 1:49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 1:51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 1:52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 1:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 1:54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 1:55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house." (Luke 1:39-56 KJV)

The birth of John happened exactly as prophesied. Even his name had been decided and declared by the LORD before it happened.

"1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 1:58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.

1:59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. 1:60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

1:61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.

1:62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. 1:63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. 1:64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. 1:65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 1:66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him." (Luke 1:57-66 KJV)

John's father then proclaimed his son as the prophet that the nation had been awaiting.

"1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

1:68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 1:69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 1:70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 1:71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 1:72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 1:73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 1:74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 1:75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

1:76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 1:77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 1:78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 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.

1:80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel." (Luke 1:67-80 KJV)

Fact Finder: Why and how is "Repent, for the Kingdom Of Heaven is at hand" a warning for all people of all time?
See Repent, For The Kingdom Of Heaven Is At Hand


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This Day In History, April 11

217: Accession of Macrinus, the 24th Roman emperor, reigned 217-218 (see Ancient Empires - Rome).

1512: The forces of the "Holy League" are defeated by the French at the Battle of Ravenna.

1689: William III and Mary II were crowned as joint sovereigns of Britain.

1713: The Treaty of Utrecht was signed to end the War of The Spanish Succession.

1814: Napoleon was exiled to Elba.

1864: Archduke Maximilian of Austria accepted the throne of Mexico.

1941: During the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), German bombers devastated Coventry, England.

1951: Police recovered the Stone of Scone (pronounced "scoon") which had been stolen from Westminster Abbey over 3 months earlier. The 484 pound stone has been part of the coronation ceremonies for British monarchs since it had been brought to London in 1296.

1961: Israel began the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichman.

1965: 40 tornadoes struck the U.S. Midwest, killing 272 people and injuring 5,000.

1970: Apollo 13 was launched. The aborted mission returned 6 days later.

1979: Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was ousted.

1982: Allen Goodman, a U.S.-born Israeli soldier, went on a shooting rampage on the Temple Mount (see A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad, A History Of Jerusalem: Zionism and A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace). Storming into the Al Aksa Mosque with an M-16 rifle, Goodman killed a Muslim guard and wounded other Arabs (see What Does The Bible Say About Arabs?). The incident set off a week of rioting and strikes in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. Goodman was convicted a year later and sentenced to life plus 2 terms of 20 years. The sentence was later reduced to 24 years, of which he served less than 16 years before being released on October 16 1997.

1997: Fire severely damaged the church that housed The Shroud of Turin (see also Shroud Of Turin: A Miraculous Fake?), however firemen were able to save the relic.





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