To me, August is Elul. You know that Rosh Hashanah is coming, and Yom kippur. If I was in a pulpit right now, my sermons would be on the Temple, the sacrifices, and hey, you know what? There’s HUGE connections between Leviticus and Hebrews. Part of the chain I was talking about yesterday.
John the Baptist emerged from the wilderness, eating locusts and wild honey. Was he a madman? No – he was dirt broke. He had no money, no home, no job. He was eating the foods that was easiest to find. Locusts in Israel are supposedly quite good to eat, and if you are eating honey too, hey, you’ve got energy. Water to wash it down with, and hey… it’s surviving.
Yes, locusts are kosher.
John the Baptist emerged from the desert, as if from nowhere in the eyes of most people. Yes, some knew he was descended from a Levite. But he was wearing skins and a belt.
Elijah the Prophet dressed like that. And he too lived in the wilderness often.
John the Baptist was poor, not rich, not a king. The people understood he was one of them, and not someone lofty, like the Sadducees. “Make straight the highways!” He was calling. “prepare ye the way of the LORD!”
And he is given the great gift of being able to be the FIRST in the New Testament to utter the most important word to prepare the way.
Ha’mikvah ha’shuvah. The Baptism of repentance.
Repentance means a change of mind leading to a change of actions. You may struggle with what you were before you were saved – but your life is different now.
If it’s not, you haven’t repented. If there’s NO difference between your old life and your new one, you don’t have a new one.
In Jewish eyes, the Mikvah was a pool for the restoration of purity. Every Jewish community was required to build one.
The established ones were not sufficient for John. For God, the best altar is one of rocks placed on top of each other. God already made them, so further shaping of them was really not necessary. So the best mikveh, the best Baptismal pool, was something God had made.
Something koshered from impurity is lowered into the mikveh, then raised up. It’s pure now.
THe Jewish people were arriving in masses, hearing a call that made perfect sense to Jewish ears. John was telling people the Messiah was arriving shortly. Israel was about to be established, Herod overthrown, the Romans cast out! THey hurried to prepare themselves from impurity to purity.
“Rabbi, what must I do?” “You have two cloaks… can you wear both of them at once? Give one away.”
Considering the poorest of the poor often had no cloak… it made sense. “Other Jews do wtihout and you have two? V’ahavta Vareacha Kimowcha!” Love thy neighbor as thyself.
Are you prepared? Are you purified? What if today was the day? Have you done enough for the Lord? What about all those plans? “I’m going to go help in a soup kitchen as my ministry. I’m going to pass out tracts. I’m going to start a Bible study in my home.”
Done it yet? What if today was the day?
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…
There you go. Sermon seed on John 3 if you’re a pastor.
And a call to transform your life. Radically. Because if the Rapture were tomorrow, does it really matter if you gave up TV, Facebook, all the other time wasters and got on with the business of being a Christian?
Or do you want to stand in front of the Lord, ashamed, weeping, saying, “oh Lord… there was so much I wanted to do for you!”
He died for you. You can do a little for Him. Change your life. Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
Make His paths straight.