Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Luke 3:2-4 KJV
This message has a strong emphasis which will become apparent as we study this theme. We are studying the harbingers of change and signs when spiritual change happens in the nation and in the Ecclesia. And right now there is an urgent cry in my heart for great change.
You may say my cry for change is subjective to my own context of living out my faith. It is not when abstract to me and my own circumstances there are serious contradictions displayed and those same contradictions allow a spiritual vacuum be filled with ideologies which cause division, disease, and destruction.
We see something very curious in this verse which is the focus of my message today.
Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
The leadership of the nation spiritually is named and showed. There must be a reason why they are named. The fact is Zacharias was a priest, John’s father. Yet John did not stay in the temple, nor did he follow on into the priesthood. He is taken into the wilderness and from there the Word of the Lord came.
Something drew John into the wilderness. A desire to cut off in ones life the daily routine. Cut off the voices of political revolution, dismay, injustice. Even cut off the religious tendencies of the day.
We see a contrast, we see who was high priest, and we see a priests son go out, receiving a Word that did not come through being in the Temple. It came from the wilderness. Surely the high priest should and would know what God was saying.
What we need to remember is that for 400 years the “Word of the Lord was rare ” . The last voice was Malachi who had already prophesied to a presumptuous people. So the Voice of the Lord went silent. In that silence the land was overun and occupied by the Romans.
We must ascertain in our first signs of change is that the Voice of God is never found in the usual places.
The Voice of the Lord that brings change must draw out the one who seeks to where the Voice comes. It means one must leave the customary to embrace the rigours of the “wilderness.” This means one must even “leave” the customary friendships, even congregations, even localities to be drawn to a place of hearing. Even our friends can drown out that new innovation from God. It may seem i am advocating a physical departure and for some it may seem to be a necessary step. Depends on the nature of the Call that comes.
I am talking also figuratively. Some of my own associations change as God adds to my comprehension the Word and it’s 3 dimensional meanings. It used to bother me when brethren disagreed but I sense that in various seasons we have companions who share the same pursuit. For John he had no companions.
The mention of the leaders also indicates a certain spiritual system and routine. I get the sensation from the Word of God that routine is the enemy of flowing in the river of transformation.
And however you want to meditate on that verse it shines that it was business as usual in the temple. And for that reason John, who was accustomed to temple routine was drawn away by God. The reason was not to disrespect the current prayer house, but that major changes were in the making. And to be honest it seems that at times our “temple” has also got into the business as usual mode. I am not saying the worship, the Word, the teaching, outreach, is wrong and is unhealthy as a whole, but there is a need for real change in the nations. For this to happen there has to be a radical season of breaking away, turning to the wilderness of prayer, abandoning for a season the slick programmes we can organise and even devote ourselves to a learning how to pray.
For some to abandon the Sunday meeting structure would be unthinkable. But radical changes need to be brought about by making radical steps.
Once we allow our spirituality to become a system we will be named in contrast to those who went out and made the change. Tragic to be named when we were not the focus of change but we are simply going through the motions without ever discerning the spiritual seasons!
The HARBINGER of Change was not only going into the wilderness but that the Word was specific, there was to be a watershed moment.
That watershed moment was the preaching of a change, that comes through repentance. Repentance is often misunderstood. We can even manipulate a congregation to tears and mistake it for Repentance, but what John received was the message and the means to administer that change. It meant not only a change of heart but acting on it.
Baptism in water was a means by which slaves would pass from one owner to another. Here John demonstrates that God is bringing change to the people. For that to happen they needed to recognise it and step into the river.
The river is the Jordan. The same place which was a barrier to Joshua. A place where Elijah passed through to ascend to heaven. A place where Elisha passed into the fullness of the Prophet Office. A place after which Elisha picked up the mantle and struck its waters and he walked in new authority. A place where Naaman the Syrian knew the God of Israel in His healing. This river is acquainted with demarcation times, turning points, promotions. And here with John was a new message. The people who would pass through this River would pass from one Covenant to another.
We do not need to go physically to the Jordan.
However Jordan is in our comprehension as a spiritual place of where we pass from one Covenant level to another , from one experience to another, from one anointing to another, from one state to a healing. Jordan may be a barrier to our natural senses, but we must fix our eyes on what God presents on the other side.
And this embodies the multiform meaning of the Word that came to John. However Luke alludes to Isaiah 40, as a exact fulfilment of prophetic scripture in the life of John. John’s act of leaving Jerusalem, leaving his home, however simple that may be, is in itself prophetically significant. We can walk in prophetic scripture and fulfil it by the most insignificant steps. It does not need to be great achievements.
But Isaiah 40 shows us that the Voice in the Wilderness, Voice from the wilderness prepares a way for the Lord to come. Psalm 24 speaks of the opening of Ancient Doors to let the King of Glory come in. For me the opening of those doors hinges (pun) on the level of obedience to small innovative steps.
The Gospel of John goes further to reveal what John heard in those wilderness years. God revealed to Him that the Messiah was coming and the sign would be given. The sign was a visible manifestation of the Spirit coming down and the Voice of the Father confirming.
So God revealed in detail that the Messiah was coming and He was coming to John. He would see and hear. So in being drawn to our wilderness our Messiah will come to us. And we shall see His Spirit come down and we shall hear the Voice of the Father. We shall know that our wilderness has come to an end and our fullness has come.
When John saw that Jesus the Messiah had come he exclaimed that the perfect lamb had arrived to deal with the sin question. All who passed through Jordan understood the message and received the Messiah.
The Messiah is coming again. To us! Hence our need to go to the wilderness. Hence our need to go through Jordan. Jesus knew the time was right to reveal Himself because John was in the wilderness. The timing was precise. Jesus comes because we are in the wilderness.
Jesus must come to us, before He can be manifest to us, and through us. Wherever Jesus is, the Spirit comes down, and the Father always confirms.
The Spirit never brings us into fascination of His gifts or ministries , but He reveals Jesus always and brings us into a place of glorifying Him.
The greatest HARBINGER of Change is when God’s people make radical steps to meet God in the wilderness. That wilderness may mean we do not preach, prophesy, but for a season meet with God, so that in hearing the Voice from the Wilderness makes us the Voice in the Wilderness.