Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 14
JOHN THE BAPTIST
Now we would like for you to get your Bible and study with us. You don’t have to agree with everything we say, but hopefully we can give you food for thought that will cause you to search the Scriptures. We just try to keep it as simple as we can so even relatively young children can comprehend what we show.
Now for this lesson we will go right into the Book of Matthew. Hopefully, the last two or three lessons have been enough introduction so that you can see all of the Old Testament prophecies are now coming to a fulfillment in the four Gospels. They will carry on well up into the Book of Acts. And it’s all based upon everything that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. Then out of David would come the King. All of that is looking forward, and here it comes now in the New Testament, but really it is just an extension of the Old Testament program. There are a lot of people who think there is a big wall between the New and Old Testament. They think when you get into the New Testament that it’s Christianity. And the Old Testament is all Law. But we aren’t going to see Christianity right away in our study. If you are a Bible student, Matthew 1:1 should immediately open your eyes.
“THE book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
That is as far as it goes. It doesn’t go all the way back to Adam because everything that will take place with regard to the coming of the King and the Kingdom began with Abraham and not Adam. As we go through that genealogy, let’s note that there are only four women listed. And yet they are probably the four women that everyone of us would not want in our family tree. But God sees fit to put them in here. I’ll point them out to you and you can figure out the reason I said what I said. In verse 3 you have the first one.
“And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar;…” Remember in Genesis, Thamar played the prostitute.
“And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab;…” And again Rachab was also a prostitute, a non Jew. And remember, God had always mandated that these Jews were to have nothing to do with Gentiles. And yet here we have one in the genealogy.
“…and Booz begat Obed of Ruth;…”
And where did Ruth come from? Moab. And what were the Moabites? Taboo! They began with the terrible relationship of Lot and his daughter. (A verse just came to mind, and I think this best explains, even though we are back here in the Jewish economy, basically under the Law, yet it’s the same God. And God hasn’t changed, nor will He ever change. The only thing that changes is the responsibilities He puts on the human race).
“And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias (Bathsheba):“ And you know the story of her and King David.
“Moreover the law entered, that the offence (sin) might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:”
Do you see that? As low as some of these people may have fallen, what was able to go beyond that? God’s Grace! Even though back here we are not under the program of Grace, yet God’s Grace has always been evident. Remember when Adam and Eve sinned, did they go looking for God? No. God went looking for them. And what was the basis of God looking for these creatures that had so violently disobeyed Him? Only His Grace. And so He reached down and brought them both back up into a relationship with Himself. So it is with the Nation of Israel, they would turn their back on Jehovah God, and how many times they went to very depths of rejection. And yet God’s Grace always causes Him to go back to them. It’s the same way with these four women in the genealogy. It just shows again that even though these women were in direct opposition to everything that God had instructed, yet in His mercy and grace. He’s able to bring them into a place of renown, by being in this genealogy. Now let’s move on out of the genealogy and we come to verse 18:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together (consummated); she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.” In other words to keep the whole thing secret.
“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, `Joseph, thou son of David,…'”
Now keep all of this in mind. Why is this inserted here? To show that Jesus is in that royal family. In II Samuel Chapter 7, what did God promise David? That beginning with him, a royal family would proceed. And that down through the ages that royal family would be ancestors of the King. And that, of course, is Who Jesus is presented as, THE KING. And again, don’t run ahead of what has been revealed so far. All we are going to understand in the opening part of the New Testament is that the King has now made His appearance. Later on it will be revealed that He is also going to be the Redeemer. But for now just except the fact that here He comes to be the King of Israel.
“…fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”
Now here is where we get the basic doctrine of the “Virgin Birth.” We know there are a lot of people that can’t believe such a thing. But if they can’t, then they are doomed! Because that is part of our salvation. That Christ was virgin-born. And the reason being, as I taught back in Genesis beginning with Eve, the blood of the mother never goes into the baby. The mother’s blood has nothing to do with the baby. The blood comes only from the father. Now this is basic, even though it is a physiological fact. It is the basis of the virgin birth of Christ, that He could be sinless and that His blood was Divine, and that He was incorruptible. Now had Mary’s blood interchanged with the baby when He was in the womb, that wouldn’t have been true. The same thing is true with the animal kingdom. The blood comes from the father. It’s just a scientific fact. And that is why the Scriptures can maintain that Jesus did not have a human father, and consequently, He didn’t have human blood. He had Divine blood! And that is why the virgin birth is so basic to our salvation. If it had been any other way, He couldn’t have shed sinless Divine blood.
Because it had been spoken of in the Old Testament we see in verse 23 the following:
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child (without benefit of a human father) and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
Now remember, Jesus is the name of His humanity; of His humility. It’s Jesus upon Whom was laid the sins of the world.
I think I told you that the disciples, and His followers in Scripture, never called Him “Jesus” during His earthly ministry. They would call Him the “Lord Jesus,” or referred to Him as “Master,” but never just “Jesus.” And very seldom does the Apostle Paul refer to Him as Jesus. Maybe once. Normally. He refers to Him as the Lord Jesus Christ, Christ, or as Lord Jesus. And the reason is that after He had suffered the humiliation of His humanity and He took upon that humanity the sins of the world, then in Resurrection power He becomes again the glorified Lord of glory, and as such we know Him. We know the resurrected Christ. The One Who died for our sins. That is important. No one is ever saved by just believing that Jesus was a good Man. That’s not salvation. We will be pointing that out as we come up through the four Gospels.
Now as we come into Chapter 2, we find the account of the wise men making their appearance, and how the family had to flee from the area of Bethlehem because of King Herod’s decree. They went down into Egypt, because of that decree, and because prophecy had said that, “He would come up out of Egypt.” Then they went to Nazareth, because again, prophecy had said that “He would be a Nazarene.”
I think now I will come right on into Chapter 3. and here we are introduced to John the Baptist. And remember that John the Baptist was a prophesied Old Testament prophet. He was to be the herald or the announcer for the King. And he is prophesied back there in the Old Testament plain as day. Between the Book of Malachi and the appearance of the Angel announcing the birth of John the Baptist, and to Joseph and Mary, is 400 years. Now that’s a long time. We call it the 400 years of silence. Up until that time, you might say from Abraham to Malachi, God had been revealing himself through the prophets and through various other means to the Nation of Israel. But after the Book of Malachi was written, completing the Old Testament, 400 years elapse until God makes His next move with the Nation of Israel. Now that’s just an historical fact, but I think it’s interesting. Let’s look at Malachi first to see the prophecy of John the Baptist.
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he (the messenger) shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek (now remember the Lord here is Jehovah, God the Son), shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the (what?) covenant (I’m glad we came back here. The Covenant, see), whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”
That’s John the Baptist being promised that he would come on the scene, and be the messenger to announce the King. The King is also the fulfillment of that Abrahamic Covenant. Abraham had been promised a nation of people that would end up in a geographical area of land. And then at some future time, God would come and be their King as well as their Redeemer. That’s all in that Covenant. And then, of course, after that Covenant made with Abraham you came to the Covenant of Law, then the Covenant God made with David concerning the royal family. And the Covenant He made with Moses concerning the Land of Palestine. Now those are all separate covenants, but they were all under the Abrahamic Covenant. And now here it is. They’ve been a nation of people for 1,500 years, since they came out of Egypt. Here the Nation of Israel is in Matthew and their King is here.
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea (and here’s John’s message), And saying, `Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
What made the Kingdom at hand? The King! Now when the King went back to Heaven at the ascension in Acts Chapter 1, where is the Kingdom? It’s in Heaven! When the King comes back to Earth, where will the Kingdom be? On Earth. So wherever the King is, you have the Kingdom. Now the King is here. And the Kingdom of Heaven is just over the horizon. This is His whole scope of approaching the Nation of Israel. But it’s in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. That’s what’s promised.
“For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias (see it’s also in Isaiah. I took you back to Malachi but Isaiah also speaks of John the Baptist) saying, `The voice of one crying in the wilderness, `Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'” You know all about John, so now I would like for you to come quickly down to verse 6:
“And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”
Think for a moment. Can you think of any other subject in Christianity that will cause more controversy, more anger, more disruption of fellowship and more everything else that you can think of, than baptism? Oh, I’ve experienced it over and over. I see people who seemingly have real sweet fellowship until all of a sudden they realize they didn’t agree on baptism and then, oops, there goes their friendship. Now there’s something wrong when something can cause such division amongst believers. And I guess I’d have to say it’s because we have so many different views of this baptism. Some feel that it’s mandatory for salvation. Some, that it has nothing to do with salvation. Some in sprinkling, some in immersion. So you have all of these conflicting ideas, and I think it’s a pity.
Now we are going to see what the Scripture says. But here, John no doubt about it, maintains that if these Jews of Israel are going to show saving faith in the fact that their King and Kingdom is here, then they would have to show it with the baptism of repentance. And that is why it is always called the “Baptism of Repentance.” The two could not be separated. These Jews were repenting then of their failure of the system of law, and everything else. They were now preparing their hearts and minds for the King and His Kingdom. I have a question for you. Why baptism? That throws a curve at almost everyone. Now remember that we are dealing with the Jew, and if you go back to the Old Testament economy, in order for the priest to be prepared for service the first thing they had to do was wash, wash, and wash some more. They had lots of practice at washing. Throughout the whole system of the Law of Moses there was that constant washing to show to the very mind of Israel that sin was a filthy thing. This is what we are dealing with here. Sin!
That is why leprosy is used as a picture of sin. Now most of us don’t know how horrible a man with leprosy can look, especially in the final stages. It is beyond comprehension. And that’s what sin does. Naaman, the Syrian General, had leprosy and the servant just begged him to go to the prophet of Israel and be healed. So he ends up with Elisha, and the old prophet doesn’t even come but rather sends his own servant out, and tells this big Syrian General to do what? Go dip in the Jordan River seven times. Well he finally did, and what happened? He was healed of his leprosy. Now the water didn’t do it. God did it because Naaman, as reluctant as he was, was still exercising faith. But that dipping in the Jordan River indicated a cleansing. In the same way, the priesthood with their wash, wash, wash, were merely emphasizing their need for a spiritual cleansing. The water in no way could do that.Remember, we looked at Scripture a couple of lessons back where Israel was told that every Jew was to be a priest of God. What little rite had to happen before they would be ready for a priesthood? They had to be washed. And they experienced that symbolic washing with their baptism. Now that is all you can put on it. Nothing more!
I guess one of the biggest questions has been, “Why was Jesus baptised? He didn’t have any sin to repent of.” But again, He came to be a prophet, priest, and King, and in order to fulfill all of the requirements of the priesthood again, symbolically what did He have to experience? The washing. So as He went down into that baptism in the Jordan, he symbolically fulfilled the washing of the priesthood, and at the same time He identifies Himself with His Covenant people the Nation of Israel. Do you see how everything just fits so beautifully together? There is a reason for it, but we have to understand it.