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Weekly Bible Study
10727
“Matthew 3:1-6 Pt 2”
by Art Sadlier   
July 4th, 2010

Matthew 3: 1-6, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins."

As we consider these verses, I want you to see six things. We have already looked at two, 1- The Man  2 - The Message.  Today we will look at .....

111 - THE  MOTIVE

Verse 2  "the kingdom of heaven is at hand"  John's motive was to establish the kingdom, to bring the King to the throne. "The kingdom of heaven", means the rule of the God of heaven over the earth. There are two aspects of the kingdom of heaven.

1 - There is the literal, earthly kingdom of heaven on earth. In Luke 1: 32 the angel told us about that future kingdom of heaven on earth. "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:" This the literal earthly kingdom that we have yet to see. That kingdom is not in existence today! Today Satan is the ruler of this world, by the permissive will of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not...."

2 - There is a spiritual kingdom that is not visible to earthly eyes, but is in existence today. Colossians 1:13, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:" There are those in the world today who have crowned Christ king in their hearts and have made Him Lord of their lives. They have been translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son, and that has happened in the here and now. This spiritual kingdom of heaven is the basis on which the literal earthly will ultimately rest.

For these folk Romans 14:17 is true, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

"The kingdom of heaven is at hand" Means that the King was present for the purpose of setting up the kingdom! Understand; the conditions for setting up the kingdom was repentance. Because the kingdom was to be a national kindgom, the repentance had to be national. The leaders of Israel along with many of the people did not repent, therefore the kingdom could not be set up at that time! The kingdom had to be postponed until a later day. That later day is prophecied in Zechariah 12 and 13.

The postponment of the kingdom did not mean that the offer of the kingdom was not a genuine offer. Today the offer of salvation to men and women is a sincere and genuine offer. Because men and women do not receive salvation they forfeit the offer. That does not mean the offer of salvation is not is not a sincere and genuine offer.

So the motivating force in John's life was the setting up of the kingdom.

IV - THE MISSION

Verse 3, "For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."

The mission  or task of the Herald of the king was to prepare the way before the king! Rocks were to be removed from the roadway. Potholes were to be filled in. Anything that might hinder the coming of the king must be removed.

As the herald of the great king, John did not clear the roads and highways of obstacles! He sought to clear the hearts of men of obstacles which would keep them from the king! The voice of John shouting to the people was a call to prepare their hearts to receive the Messiah as the Lord and king of their lives!

That will happen one day, Zechariah 13:8-9  "And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.  And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God."

V - THE MANNER

Verse 4, " And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey." John's dress and manners were peculiar! Those who would be heralds of an earthly king, would stay in the best hotels and dress in the finest clothes. They would eat the most expensive foods,  contact the elite people, and visit the best places. No expense, no pomp, no fanfare would be too much!

That is not God's plan for heralding His Son. John's purpose was to call people away the corrupt, dead religious system of their day. Away from worldliness, ritualism and superficiality. Away from the world and all its wealth and pleasure and pride. 

The parallel today is the worldliness of the New Evangelical. The world has a way of deadening the spiritual interests of those who come under it's spell. John  brought them away from the business and din of life. Away from the distractions of life and the leaders who influenced them. John brought them away to the place where they could listen and think.

John's dress, diet and lifestyle were a rebuke to the comfortable, self indulgent and religiously smug people of Israel. How we are controlled and influenced by the life style of the worldly people around us!

John's purpose was not to turn people into hermits or ascetics. He called no one to live and dress the way he did. However his manner of living was a dramatic reminder of the many loves and pleasures that keep people from exchanging their own way for God's way. How we, who claim to be the people of God, have lost sight of who we are and what our focus and purpose is to be in this world! There is a fine line between the carnal christian and the counterfeit christian, if you are on the line you need to get off it. How tragic to think you are a christian and find out in the end that are not in Christ!

V1 - THE MINISTRY

Verses 5-6, "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." John didn't rent an arena or an auditorium, in fact he didn't come to town at all. The Spirit of God was upon him and the multitudes came from everywhere!

The effect of John's ministry was dramatic!  People confessed their sins and were baptised. They responded even baptism had never been a part of Jewish tradition.

We know from later events that some of John's converts were genuinely converted.

We also know that many who professed repentance and were baptised were insincere and not genuine. 

The interesting thing is that the same was true of our Lord's own ministry. Many followed Him initially but later forsook Him. Our Lord teaches us about such people in the parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13. He refered to four kinds of soil which were types of response to the gospel message. There was the hard ground, the stoney ground, and the thorny ground. These three types of soil were all insincere and represented unregenerate people.

There was the good ground which represented the sincere people who responded in faith and were regenerated.

My friend are you a part of the number who are genuine disciples of Christ.  As the heralds of the king sow the seed of the gospel there will be these two kinds of responses. We are to be utterly faithfull in our sowing and leave the hearts of men and women to the Lord of the harvest.

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