Wednesday, 14 November 2012

'Are You the Coming One?'

                  In Matthew 11, John the Baptist asks Jesus a very strange question:
When John the Baptist heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?'   Matthew 11.2

Since John had announced Jesus’s arrival, AND he had been present at Jesus’s Baptism, AND he had seen the dove descend, AND he had heard the Voice from heaven....why does he need to ask the question? 

He needed to ask the question because he had misunderstood that Jesus the Messiah was, and is, planned by God to make TWO visits to Earth from Heaven:

1. His First Coming was 'to save His people from their sins', which is why He was called JESUS. JESUS means 'deliverance or freedom from trouble.' 

As Paul writes in 1Corinthians 15.20-22:
Now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also, came the resurrection of the dead.   

At His Crucifixion and Resurrection, Jesus destroyed the power of death, as Hosea prophesied:
Hosea 13:14  I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.

and as Hebrews 2.14 describes so clearly that:
He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.   

2. His Second Coming is for a very different purpose, as the Prophet Zechariah 14.1-13 outlines: 

Behold, The Day of the LORD is coming, ...for I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. ....
Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, ...and in That Day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, ...and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two.... 
It shall come to pass in That Day that there will be no light; the lights will diminish.  ...and in That Day it shall be that Living Waters shall flow from Jerusalem, ...and the LORD shall be King over all the earth. 
In That Day it shall be...that this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths. 
It shall come to pass in That Day that a great panic from the LORD will be among them.  

Zephaniah 1.15-18 describes The Day of the LORD in some detail:
That Day is 
a Day of wrath, 
a Day of trouble and distress, 
a Day of devastation and desolation, 
a Day of darkness and gloominess, 
a Day of clouds and thick darkness, 
a Day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers.
I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in The Day of the LORD’s wrath. 

Malachi 4.1 gives a similar description:
'The Day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And The Day which is coming shall burn them up, that will leave them neither root nor branch. 

The vast majority of the Rabbis in the first century expected a Messiah that would only come once, and at His Coming the events of The Day of the LORD would happen.   

The outcome of The Day of the LORD would clearly result in the freedom of Israel from the Roman yoke, and the ushering in of the rule and reign of Messiah in Jerusalem, that most of the Prophets had described so many times. 

For example, Micah 5.1-6 describes: 
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the Mountain of the LORD’S House shall be established on the top of the mountains, ...and peoples shall flow to it. 
Many nations shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the Mountain of the LORD, to the House of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion the Torah shall go forth, and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the Mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.   

And the Prophet Isaiah outlines what will happen in the beautiful passage of Isaiah 11.1-9: 

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.... Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, 
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, 
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; 
and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze; 
Their young ones shall lie down together; 
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, 
and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, 
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

So, this was the wonderful prospect that the Rabbis, the Scribes and Pharisees, the Sadducess, the Elders, the Chief Priests, the sect of the Essenes, and many, many people expected.

In addition to this wonderful prospect, the Prophet Malachi adds some vital information for John the Baptist in Malachi 3.1 and 4.5-6:

Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the LORD, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His Temple, ....
Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of The Great and Dreadful Day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.'

It is clear from the prophecies in the Old Testament, AND the subsequent confirmation from Jesus Himself, that John the Baptist was 'the messenger', and was to be identified with Elijah the Prophet: 

Matthew 3.1-4:
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!' For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah 40.3, saying: 'The voice of one crying, 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.’

And John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. described in 2Kings 1:8: A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.  

Jesus affirmed that John the Baptist was to be identified with Elijah:

Matthew 11.14: If you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.

Matthew 17.10-13  His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?'
Jesus answered and said to them, 'Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they wished.'
Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.

With all this confirmation, it is not surprising that John the Baptist expected that the dramatic events of The Day of the LORD were about to happen. In fact, the record of John's preaching in Matthew 3.7-12 confirms his expectation of The Day of the LORD 

When John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, 'Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?....And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.' 

It is very clear from this passage in Matthew 3, that when John challenged the Pharisees and Sadducess with his question, Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?,  he was specifically referring to The Day of the LORD’s wrath described in Zephaniah 1.

In addition, John was expecting that Jesus would burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire as Malachi 4 prophesied, The Day which is coming shall burn them up.  

So, in conclusion, 
Why did John the Baptist ask Jesus a very strange question: 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?'.
John asked the question because he was expecting the Messiah of His Second Coming ....and he was not expecting the Messiah of His First Coming when He came 'to save His people from their sins'.   

Until the next Blog when I will outline when Jesus our Messiah will return at His Second Coming.... 


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