The Life of John the Baptist: The Birth of John the Baptist

The Life of John the Baptist

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPITST // Luke 1:5-25; 1:57-80

I. The parents of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-7)

    A. Zacharias was a priest, of the division of Abijah

      1. “Jehovah is renowned”
      2. “The great numbers of priests necessitated that particular choice for various functions should be made by casting lots; and no one was allowed to burn incense more than once, many never being permitted to do so at all.” (Coffman)

    B. Elizabeth was of the daughters of Aaron

      1. “God is an oath”
      2. A relative of Mary
      3. Barren

    C. They were both “righteous before God”

      1. “Walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord”
      2. “Blameless”

II. Zacharias’ service in the temple (Luke 1:8-10)

    A. “The inside of the Temple-building was exactly like the inside of the Tabernacle. The Holy Place contained the Table of Showbread, the Menora (candelabra), and the Altar of Incense. Outside the Temple-building was the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver. Inside the Holy of Holies was where the Ark of the Covenant was supposed to be. Only the High Priest could enter there and only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Incense was burned on this altar (which stood just in front of the veil which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies) every morning and every evening so that it was literally, perpetual (cf. Ex. 30:8). It was customary for the Jews to stop whatever they were doing each day at these times of burning the incense in the temple and pray. Many made a special trip to the Temple courts to pray at those hours. It was one of the greatest experience in the life of an ordinary priest of the Jews to be chosen to burn the incense.” (Butler)

III. Gabriel speaks to Zacharias (Luke 1:11-23)

    A. Fear was the normal response to the appearance of an angel
    B. The announcement of a son

      1. Call his name John – “gift of God” or “God’s grace”
      2. Great in the sight of the Lord
      3. Drink neither wine nor strong drink
      4. Will be filled with the Holy Spirit

    C. John’s work

      1. Turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord
      2. Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children (Malachi 4:6)
      3. Turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just
      4. Make ready a people prepared for the Lord

    D. Zacharias’ unbelief

      1. Because of his age
      2. Punishment was to be made deaf (Luke 1:62) and dumb until John’s birth
      3. “Zacharias is not the only one to ask for evidence on which to base his belief: Gideon did; Thomas did….But since Zacharias didn’t believe the word of the angel Gabriel, he was given a sign that would not only establish it in his mind but also cause the people to see that something unusual had happened while he was in the temple.” (Applebury)

IV. Elizabeth conceives (Luke 1:24-25)

    A. The inability to bear children was viewed as a curse from God
    B. “The mores of that society were such that Elizabeth would indeed have suffered all kinds of reproach from her family, possibly even from her husband, and certainly from her community. Her gratitude at the lifting of such a reproach is beautiful and touching. If she had suffered a number of miscarriages in the past, it would have accounted for her period of hiding for five months.” (Coffman)

V. The birth of John (Luke 1:57-66)

    A. The neighbors believed the child should be named Zacharias after his father, but Elizabeth and Zacharias rejected their suggestion

      1. Children were traditionally named after a relative
      2. “The officiousness of the neighbors is seen in their appealing over the mother’s wishes to Zacharias himself.” (Coffman)

    B. Upon the affirmation of the child’s name, Zacharias was able to speak
    C. “The miracles surrounding the birth of John were talked about through all the hill country of Judea. Those who witnessed the miracles agreed, ‘…the hand of the Lord was with him.’ No doubt there were many who remembered these testimonies when John began preaching 30 years later and repeated them to the younger generation so that great multitudes (Mt. 3:5) went out into the uninhabited Jordan river valley to hear him. After all, there had not been a bona fide prophet of God among the Hebrew people for over 400 years.” (Butler)

VI. Zacharias prophesies (Luke 1:67-80)

    A. Zacharias praises God for the arrival of the times of the Messiah

      1. Verses 68-75 refer to the coming Christ

        a. “He has visited and redeemed His people” (cf. Isaiah 29:6; Zephaniah 2:7; Psalm 8:4-6; Hebrews 2:6; Acts 15:14)
        b. “A horn of salvation” (cf. Psalm 132:17; 148:14; Ezekiel 29:21)
        c. “In the house of His servant David” (cf. Amos 9:11; Acts 15:15-18)

      2. Verses 76-79 refer to John’s work of preparation for the Christ

        a. “The imagery is that of a herald going before a king to prepare the way for a royal visitor.” (Coffman)
        b. One of his tasks: “To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins” (cf. Luke 3:3)

    B. Verse 80 is the only information we have about John’s life until his work begins

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A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period

On Sunday morning, we completed a five-lesson study of the book of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period in our high school class. A number of resources were utilized in the completion of this study; a list of those resources can be found on pages 22 and 23 of the file below. I offer my notes here as a study aid, and encourage you to search the Scriptures and discover the rich lessons available in the prophecies of Malachi.

Click here to download A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: Class notes compiled by Jason T. Carter (PDF format).

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: The Inter-Testamental Period

THE INTER-TESTAMENTAL PERIOD

The Medo-Persian Empire (538-332 BC)
In control when Malachi prophesied (middle of 5th century BC)
The “kingdom inferior” to Babylon with “chest and arms of silver” (Daniel 2:39; 2:32)

The Greek Empire (332-167 BC)
“Belly and thighs of bronze…which shall rule over all the earth” (Daniel 2:32; 2:39).
Alexander the Great ruled until his death, 323 BC
Ptolemies and Seleucids fought for Palestine
Attempt to Hellenize Jewish worship; “the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:31)

The Maccabean Revolt and Jewish Independence (167-63 BC)
Key people: Mattathias, Judas, Jonathan, Simon, John Hyrcanus
The fighting between Pharisees and Sadducees led to the downfall of Jewish independence

The Roman Empire (63 BC-70 AD)
“Legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay” (Daniel 2:33)
Civil war between Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II from 69-63 BC
Julius Caesar took control of Rome in 48 BC
It was “in the days of these kings” that God established His church, “a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44)

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: Malachi 4

MALACHI 4

4:1 – “There’s a Great Day Coming”
“Sad day” – warning to the proud and wicked (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Matthew 3:12; 25:41; 2 Peter 3:7)

4:2-3 – “Bright day” for the faithful
Wickedness or righteousness is based on one’s response to the same message
“The Sun of Righteousness” is a Messianic prophecy
“Healing in His wings” (cf. Isaiah 53:5; Mark 2:17)

4:4 – Remember the Law of Moses
Blessings of the Word: keep one undefiled, upright, and upheld (Psalm 119:1,7,116)
Provides divine direction (Psalm 119:105)
Served as a shadow or type of the better covenant to come

4:5-6 – The promise of Elijah
Not in person (John 1:21), but in spirit (Matthew 17:11-13)
John’s purpose: “reconciliation of those present at his coming with the covenant faith of their fathers” (Clinton R. Gill)
Between Malachi and John – approximately 400 years – there were no other inspired prophets

Review and thought questions

1. What imagery is used to describe the eternal punishment of the wicked in the Scriptures?

2. What is said of the faithful?

3. How do we know Malachi is not referring to Elijah the Tishbite in 4:5?

4. What was the purpose of Elijah/John according to 3:1 and 4:6?

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: Malachi 3

MALACHI 3

3:1-6 – An answer to Malachi 2:17: “The God of justice” is coming Himself!
His messenger (John the Baptist) would first come to prepare the way (cf. Malachi 4:5-6; Isaiah 40:3-5; Matthew 3:3; 11:10, 14; 17:12-13; Mark 1:3; Luke 1:17; 3:4; John 1:23)
The divine Christ would then arrive as “the Messenger of the covenant”
God’s justice starts with those in charge, then against the wicked

3:7-12 – Will a man rob God?
“God is never satisfied with a partial, or incomplete, service” (Guy N. Woods)
He challenges them to follow Him fully, and He would bless them beyond measure

3:13-15 – “Your words have been harsh against Me”
They questioned His moral government among men
Israel was shortsighted, looking only at the rewards of this life

3:16-18 – There was a remnant of “those who feared the Lord”
Contrast verse 9, “this whole nation,” with verse 17, “shall be Mine”
Each individual must decide into which category he wishes to be placed, and live accordingly

Review and thought questions

1. Considering all the accusations being brought against Israel, how do you think they would have responded to the message that God was coming?

2. In what ways might Christians “rob God” today?

3. Should we expect recognition for doing the right thing in this life? What does Christ say about doing charitable deeds, or praying, or fasting, in order to be seen by men? Read Matthew 6:1, 5, 16.

4. What are some things upon which the people of God should meditate? Read Psalm 1:1-2; Malachi 3:16; Philippians 4:8-9.

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: Malachi 2

MALACHI 2

2:1-4 – Just as God’s promises are sure for the faithful, His punishments are certain for the disobedient
Isaiah prophesied about the hardening of Israel’s hearts (Isaiah 6:9-10)
The dung/refuse of the sacrifice was to be taken out of the camp (Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 4:12; 16:27)
Shows the priests were unfit for the service of the Lord

2:5-9 – Contrast between original intent of Levi and what it became
Instead of walking with God “in peace and equity,” they had “departed from the way.” Instead of keeping knowledge and directing the people who sought the law, they “caused many to stumble at the law.” In short, the priests of Malachi’s day had “corrupted the covenant of Levi,” bringing to an end God’s blessings.

2:10-16 – God prohibited marriages with foreign/pagan women (Deuteronomy 7:1-4; Ezra 9:10-15; Nehemiah 13:23-27)
The intent was to keep the nation pure and dedicated to God until the Messiah arrived
These prohibited marriages were often done at the expense of Israelite women
God hates divorce
“What God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6)
Exception: fornication (NKJV and other translations as “sexual immorality” is too broad; only fornication is in view in Matthew 19:9)

2:17 – Murmuring wearies God
The sun rises on evil and good; rain falls on just and unjust (Matthew 5:45)
Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it

Review and thought questions

1. How far-reaching is “the curse” of God? Read Deuteronomy 28:15-19.

2. Under the Old Law, the tribe of Levi served as priests for the people of God. Who are the priests today? Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. How must the royal priesthood keep themselves fit for service to the Lord?

3. In what three ways had the priests of Malachi’s day violated the covenant God made with Levi? How can we, as a royal priesthood, avoid the same mistakes under the law of Christ?

4. How careful should one be in choosing a spouse? What spiritual characteristics should be considered?

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: Malachi 1

“Malachi” means “My messenger”
Written in the middle of the fifth century BC

Timeline:
536 BC – remnant returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild nation
520-515 BC – God’s temple rebuilt under Zerubbabel (governor) and Joshua (high priest), encouraged by of Haggai and Zechariah
458 BC – Ezra reorganizes and reestablishes nation’s worship
445 BC – Nehemiah leads Hebrews in rebuilding walls of city
432 BC – Nehemiah’s second visit to Jerusalem

MALACHI 1

1:1-5 – God declares His love
Egypt, wilderness, other enemies, even when under foreign rule (cf. Daniel 1:19; Esther 2:17; Nehemiah 1:11)
Edom opposed God and His people (cf. Obadiah 10-18; Amos 1:11-12; Jeremiah 49:7-10; 25:9,21)
Chaldeans, Nabataeans, Maccabees, and Romans all captured Edom

1:6-8 – Israel despised God’s name
Defiled food/bread, specifically blind, lame, and sick sacrifices, in opposition to Law (Leviticus 22:17-25)

1:9-10 – Sarcasm and irony
God desires zeal in His people

1:11-13 – God will be honored by Gentiles, despite Israel’s irreverence
Israel expressed weariness in worship
“If people are only going through the motions without the heart being in it, such will only be endured rather than enjoyed. That which should have been a blessing has become a burden to them. Where they should have seen themselves as a blessed people with the opportunity to be a light in the nations around them, they see themselves burdened.” (J. Winfred Clark)

1:14 – “Cursed be the deceiver”
God’s name is “to be feared” (NKJV), “dreadful” (KJV), “terrible” (ASV)

Review and thought questions

1. Edom confidently asserted, “We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places” (1:4). Is there anything wrong with such determination in the face of despair? Consider Psalm 127:1 and James 4:13-16 as you answer.

2. Identify some of the parallels between the religious people of Malachi’s day and the religious people of today.

3. How important is appropriate worship? What did Jesus say in Matthew 15:8-9?

4. How would you respond to someone who complains that “church is boring”? How can you guard yourself against developing a similar attitude?

5. Should a person make a vow if he has no intention of following through? What does Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 say?

A Study of Revelation: Refuting False Doctrines

Refuting False Doctrines

Max R. King’s “A.D. 70 Doctrine” (also known as Realized Eschatology, Kingism, or the Max King Doctrine)

  • “The Holy Scriptures teach that the second coming of Christ, including the establishment of the eternal kingdom, the day of judgment, the end of the world and the resurrection of the dead, occurred with the fall of Judaism in 70 A.D.”
  • King struggles with the figurative language, and with separating the second coming or final judgment from the coming in judgment upon individual nations
  • King’s debate with brother Gus Nichols can be read online: http://icotb.org/resource/NICHOLS-KINGDEBATE.pdf
  • Brother Garland M. Robinsons refutation of King’s false doctrine: http://icotb.org/resources/AD70-Kingism.pdf

The Jehovah’s Witnesses Literal View of 144,000

  • Literal interpretation of Revelation 7:4
  • Contrast “those who were sealed” in verse 4 (“a definite number”) with “a great crowd” in verse 9 (“without a definite number”)
  • JWs do not believe all Christians go to heaven, but rather that “resurrection to heaven is closely related to an assignment given only to some humans”
  • Easily refuted with 2 Timothy 4:8 and Matthew 25:31-46

Premillennialism

  • Based in part on a literal application and a very twisted interpretation of the “one thousand years” of Revelation 20
  • Has all but disappeared from the Lord’s church, but still very prevalent in the denominational world
  • “The interpretation of the premillennialists is that the thousand years of Revelation 20 comes after the next resurrection, which they say will be a resurrection of saints only, and then, they say Christ will reign a thousand years on earth, and raise the wicked dead at the end of the thousand years. However, the chapter does not say this. Furthermore, hard-to-be understood scriptures should be interpreted so as to have to clash with plain passages whose meaning is not in doubt. Four times in one chapter Christ says he will raise the righteous dead ‘at the last day.’ (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54.) Millennialists deny this, and say the righteous will be raised a thousand years before the last day, and that the wicked will be raised at the last day, or after a thousand years.” (Gus Nichols, “Dangers of Premillennialism.” The Lipscomb Lectures, 1947, Vol. 1, page 127)
  • Refutation: What evidence is there that John was speaking here literally, in a book that was “signified” (Revelation 1:1) to the apostle?
  • “John said, ‘they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.’ The passage says nothing about ‘the thousand years reign of Christ.’ There is a great difference in the two expressions. Revelation 20 says, ‘they lived and reigned with Christ.’ They who? Lived—lived where? Reigned—how, with whom and where? ‘Lived and reigned”—with whom, in what place? It is not the reign of Christ, but the reign of souls ‘with Christ,’ that is mentioned in Revelation 20. There is a vast difference between living and reigning ‘with Christ’ and a millennial reign ‘of Christ.’ So let us be true to the facts in the case. It does not mention the reign of Christ, but the reign of souls ‘with’ him. They not only ‘reigned’ with him, they ‘lived’ with him. They ‘lived and reigned’ with Christ a thousand years. The two verbs ‘lived’ and ‘reigned’ are both limited by the thousand years. If the expression denotes time, then when the reign is over, and they ceased to reign; the living would be over and they would cease to live.” (Foy E. Wallace, Jr., The Book of Revelation, 1966, pages 402-403)
  • In addition to Wallace’s commentary on Revelation, you can read his seminal work against premillennialism called God’s Prophetic Word: http://www.retainthestandard.com/Foy%20E%20Wallace%20-%20God’s%20Prophetic%20Word.pdf

Review
1. Does belief in the early writing of Revelation necessarily lead one to believe the Max R. King “A.D. 70 Doctrine”?

2. How would you show the fallacy of Max R. King’s “A.D. 70 Doctrine”?

3. What Scriptures would you point to in refuting the Jehovah’s Witnesses literal interpretation of the 144,000?

4. Expose as many errors of premillennialism as you can, using the Scriptures.

A Study of Revelation: Revelation 20:11 – 22:21 (All Things Made New)

Revelation chapters 20:11 – 22:21 (All Things Made New)

20:11-15 – The final judgment scene
This passage can bring great joy and hope to some, while others read it with terror (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; John 12:48; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
The Book of Life contains the names of those approved of God
Those whose names are not in the Book of Life face eternal punishment and separation from God (Exo. 32:32-33; Ps. 69:28; Rev. 3:5; 20:15)

21:1-8 – What is the new heaven and new earth? The spiritual rule of Christ and His church
The New Jerusalem is the church – both now and forevermore
The thrust of this passage is the relationship between God and “he who overcomes.” God says, “I will be his God, and he shall by My son.” There is no greater relationship than this; there is no force that can break this bond in eternity.
Sins that will prevent the impenitent from eternity (Revelation 21:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3)

21:9-21 – Description of the glorified church
Twelve = completeness
Precious stones show “the eternal beauty and value of the church of the living God” (Coffman)

21:22-27 – The old temple was a type of the new; it had passed away

22:1-5 – The tree of life (Genesis 2:8-9, 16-17; 3:23-24)
Christ removed the curse of sin (Galatians 3:13-14)

22:6-11 – Return to John’s present time
Judgment upon the harlot (Jerusalem), the end of Palestinian persecution, and then the beast (Rome) would be conquered
Jesus: “Behold, I am coming quickly” – not reference to second coming, but coming in judgment upon Jerusalem in 70 AD
John is told, “Do not seal the words” here; compare to Daniel 8:26 – in one instance the fulfillment would come soon; in the other it would not pass for “many days in the future”

22:12-17 – “Do His commandments” (KJV/NKJV) = “wash their robes” (ASV/NASB/ESV/NIV) [cf. Acts 22:16; 2:38; Rom. 6:3-6]
Contrast with those who disobey – “dogs” and “sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie”

22:18-21 – Warning against changing the Word (cf. 2 Peter 3:15-16; 2 Timothy 4:2-4; Galatians 1:6-9)

Review
1. In the final judgment, what will be the standard of judgment?

2. What are some of the things that will be no more, according to chapters 21 and 22?

3. What are some of the sins that will lead men to the second death in chapter 21? What will prevent men from entering the gates of the city in chapter 22?

4. Why are the warnings against tampering with the revealed Word so severe?

A Study of Revelation: Revelation 19:11 – 20:10 (The Defeat of the Beast)

Revelation chapters 19:11 – 20:10 (The Defeat of the Beast)

19:11-14 – White = either purity or victory
These events follow Jerusalem’s destruction; Christ’s war is now against Caesar-worship and heathenism
“Faithful and True” (cf. Revelation 3:14; 21:5; 22:6)
“Eyes…like a flame of fire” (cf. Rev. 1:14; 2:18) – refers to omniscience
Whose blood? Perhaps symbolizes judgment against Israel, or the eternal victory of the Cross
“The Word of God” = Jesus (cf. John 1:1,14)

19:15-16 – “Sharp sword” (cf. Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17)
Striking of the nations and ruling with rod of iron symbolized the impact of the gospel on the world (prophesied in Psalm 2:1-3)
Ogden: “By His powerful word, He either smites, or shepherds, the nations. His word either convinces, or it convicts.”
“King of kings and Lord of lords” (cf. Revelation 11:15) – spiritual, not literal; accomplished by the spread of gospel

19:17-21 – The judgment against Jerusalem was past, but persecutions continued via the Roman Empire (the beast)
Christ will reign victorious; evil will not and cannot defeat the Lord
Ultimately accomplished by 313 AD with Constantine

20:1-3 – Now that the harlot and the beast have been defeated, John sees the binding of Satan himself
The thousand years is not a literal, specific amount of time; it refers to the complete success of Christ’s cause over persecution
Wallace: “There are twenty figures of speech in the nineteenth and twentieth chapters alone. In a series of symbols such as these, it is not reasonable to make a literal application of the thousand years and a figurative application of all the rest of the symbols, without a contextual or historical reason for doing so. The thousand years, like the other parts of the vision, is a figure of speech—a symbol of something else.”
Coffman: “The ‘little time’…beginning at the point after which God shall have finally achieved the full salvation of the total number of the redeemed, and lasting only a relatively short while. Satan will be ‘loosed’ without any restraint whatever during that brief period.”

20:4-6 – The same martyred souls as those who were “under the altar” in Revelation 6:9
According to the false doctrine of premillennialism, this living and reigning is still future, will occur on the earth, and is inclusive of all Christians
          * Note the past tense “lived and reigned”
          * “On earth” is nowhere stated nor implied
          * “They” refers specifically to those “who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands”
Those who have part in the first resurrection are those who overcome (cf. Revelation 2:11)

20:7-10 – The need to evangelize (cf. Galatians 1:6-9; Romans 1:16)
Gog and Magog represent any religion or faith that is not expressly from God
The torment of eternal separation from God:
          * “The lake of fire and brimstone” (Revelation 20:10)
          * “Outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 15:30)
          * “Eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41)
          * “Unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:44)
          * “Hell, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48)
Hell is eternal (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41,46)

Review
1. In what four ways is the rider of the white horse identified in chapter 19?

2. What is the sharp sword of Revelation 19:15, and how was it used to strike the nations?

3. What is a possible explanation of the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 that does not contradict other Scriptures?

4. When will the end of the thousand years come?