It was predicted John the Baptist (John 1:6) would “make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa. 40:3), making him the Lord’s bulldozer! But how did he fulfill Isaiah’s prediction that “every valley should be exalted” (Isa. 40:4)? The men who were humble enough to submit to John’s baptism of repentance were exalted (cf. Lu.14: 11), while the proud mountainous Pharisees who refused to repent were “made low” (Isa.40:4). The “crooked” that John hoped would be “made straight” was Israel (De. 32:5)
Malachi also predicted that John would come and “prepare the way” before the Lord (3:1), and calls him “Elijah” (4:5 ,6). Elijah and John were similar. Elijah was hairy and wore a leather girdle (IIKi.1:8), John wore camel’s hair and a leather girdle (Mt.3:4). Elijah stood up to a wicked king named Ahab, while John stood up to a wicked king named Herod. Elijah called fire down on God’s enemies (IIKi.1:9-12), and John predicted the Lord would baptize His enem-ies with fire (Mt.3:11). Elijah went before a type of Christ named Elisha, and John went before Christ. He was so much like Elijah, men asked if he was Elijah (John 1:21).
Was he? He said he wasn’t (John 1:19-23), but the Lord said he was! (Mt.17:11-13). So what gives? Seems to me a man ought to know if he’s Elijah the prophet or not! But the Lord knew John better than he knew himself. You see, if Israel had received “it” (Mt.11:14), i.e., the kingdom of heaven that John preached (Mt.3:2), John would have been Elijah! But Israel didn’t receive it, so John wasn’t Elijah.
So was Malachi wrong in saying Elijah would come before the Lord (4:5)? No, for John was sent “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Lu.1:13-17). So Israel has no excuse for rejecting Christ! They can’t say to God on Judgment Day, “We didn’t recognize our Messiah, because You didn’t send Elijah first.” But now since Israel rejected the kingdom, Elijah will now have to come before the Lord’s second coming, as one of the two witnesses (Rev.11:3-12).
What kind of people need someone to “bear witness of the
Light” (John 1:7)? Who doesn’t know what light is? The answer is, blind people! Since Israel was spiritually blind, John “came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light.”
“Believe” (1:7) is a key word in John, appearing 100 times, but every time we are told what they were told to believe, it is never “Christ died for our sins” (ICor.15:3,4), the mes-sage that needs to be believed to be saved today (ICor.15: 1,2). In John, they were required to believe that “Jesus is the Christ” (6:68,69; 8:24; 9:35-38; 11:27; 16:27,30,31; 17:8; 20:31). In this dispensation, that’s a good start! If Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, He was just another man with sins of His own to die for, unable to die for yours! But today you must have “faith in His blood” (Rom.3:25).
Just as every groom has a “friend” who is a “witness” at the wedding, so the Lord had John to “bear witness of that Light” (1:8 cf. 3:27-29). When John calls the Lord “the true Light” (1:9), he was warning that there is a false light coming in the Tribulation. Antichrist will claim to be Israel’s true light, but Tribulation saints will “know Him that is true” (I John 5:20). In that day, they will also be “born of God” by believing “Jesus is the Christ” (IJo.5:1).
Won’t they know that Christ died for our sins? Yes (IJo.2:2), but the gospel of salvation will still be “Jesus is the Christ, since in the middle of the Tribulation, Antichrist will die and rise again (Rev.13:1-3), and claim that he is the Christ who died for our sins! Thus who they believe to be the Christ will determine their eternal destiny. Until then, it is still true today that the Lord Jesus Christ “lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).
When John says that “He was in the world…and the world knew Him not” (John 1:10), he speaks not of the physical world, for the wind and waves knew Him well, and were calm when He rebuked them. The plant world knew Him well, and obeyed Him when He rebuked the fig tree. The animal world knew Him, and many fish rushed to Peter’s net to prove He was God. The angelic world knew Him well; even fallen angels obeyed Him when He cast them out. Only the world of men didn’t know Him. Do you?