John the Baptist is the prophet who links the Old and New Testament


John is one of the most important prophets to study in the Bible as he sits just between the Old and New Testaments thus joining them. John was the last of the OT prophets who completed the final leg of the Old Testament. He was beheaded during Jesus’ ministry. As a forerunner he handed the baton to Jesus to fully usher in the New Testament.

Mt 11:9-10 “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you. And one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way before you.’”

Jesus himself calls John the greatest person to arise, up until then.

“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!” Mt 11:11a

Yet, those who belong to the kingdom which Jesus was bringing in have a higher standing!

“Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Mt 11:11b

Jesus also states that John marked the end of the era of the Old Testament with the “Gospel of the kingdom of God” replacing the Law and the prophets.

Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John: since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached and everyone is forcing his way into it.”


A man standing on a surfboard punts across the sea with an orange sunset behind him and a sailboat anchored behind him.


John the Baptist’s ministry was both Old and New Testament

The message of John the Baptist was a combination of the Old Testament and New. He thus stood astride them, joining them together.


John the Baptist’s Old Testament message

The Old Testament message he focused on was the ‘Wrath of God’.

“But when he (John) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.””

This is understandable as it was only by the death of Jesus on the cross that the wrath of God was dealt with. Click here for a section on the ‘Wrath of God’.


John the Baptist’s New Testament message

John’s main ministry and preaching came before Jesus started his and marked the beginning of a radical change of direction from Old Testament teaching. In the Old Testament the sacrifice of animals conducted in the Temple in Jerusalem was the way to cleanse sin. John proclaimed the need for repentance, baptism and confession of sins as the new way.

Mt 3:1-3 “Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the LORD, make His paths straight!’…. and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’”

Mark 1:3 “John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”


John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the new sacrificial offering - “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

John would have heard about Mary’s miraculous virgin conception and the stories surrounding the birth of Jesus, from his mother Elizabeth whom Mary had visited when she was pregnant. He even leaped in the womb when the two pregnant women met! Luke 1:41 All of this knowledge combined with John’s prophetic ability, enabled him to recognise the sacrificial nature of Jesus’ life right at the start of his ministry - something that the disciples failed to do until the resurrection.

John 1:29 “The next day he (John) saw Jesus coming to him and said “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” This is He on behalf of whom I said ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’”


John the last of the Old Testament prophets recognised Jesus as the Messiah who ushered in the Kingdom of Heaven

John was the last and the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. He recognised the coming of Jesus, the Messiah (Christ), through whom the Kingdom of Heaven (God) would be established. This explains the statement that John made regarding Jesus and himself.

John 3:30 “To this John replied...He must increase but I must decrease.”

Many Christians use this statement in a humble, self effacing way, to mean that there must be nothing of themselves and all of God in what they do and say. This often stops people from moving in the prophetic.
However, when we read this statement in context the true meaning becomes obvious.

John 3:27-31 “John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ’, but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.””

Just as the Old Testament had to close – so, those of that era had to fade and be replaced by those of the New Covenant. John saw himself as a friend of the bridegroom – Jesus. I believe that he also foresaw his own death and realised he would not be a partaker in this life in the fullness of the kingdom. Aspects such as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which John longed for, he would not be part of on earth, as these came after the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2).

Mt 3:11-17 “As for me, (John) I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire…. Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’”

God does not want to erase our unique personalities. Rather he longs to see us blossom and grow into all that he planned us to be. Our personality is not something which needs to be bypassed in order for God to use us. Instead he has unique works for each of us which only we can fulfil.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:10


Next.
1. Introduction - friendship with God.
2. Friendship is higher than service.
3. OT prophet. The Spirit came upon them.
4. God wanted prophecy for all in the OT.
5. The wrath of God.
6. God is a merciful judge.
7. John the Baptist - the prophet between the OT and NT
8. NT prophet. The Spirit within we can all prophesy!
9. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.
10. Spiritual gifts are for building not destroying.
11. What you speak to rises up.
12. Prophesy truth not facts.
13. The primary purpose of prophecy in the NT.
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