It’s Time For the Prophetic Voices of This Generation to Rise Up

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically today’s passage is found in the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament book. “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, and said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus” (Matthew 14:1-12).

 

            “When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did eat, and were filled: and they took up the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children” (Matthew 14:13-21).

 

            “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to. Pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt. And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God” (Matthew 14:22-33).

 

            “And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; and besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly clear” (Matthew 14:34-36).

 

            When you come to the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find a powerful transition taking place within this gospel. As you begin reading with and from the opening verses of this chapter you will find it beginning once more with the narrative of John the Baptist. What we find in this section of Scripture, however, is something entirely and altogether different concerning John the Baptist. We are first introduced to John the Baptist in the third chapter of this gospel when we find him preaching and baptizing men and women in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. It is in the third chapter of this New Testament gospel we find John the Baptist baptizing men and women in water unto repentance for the remission of sins and how all Judaea, Galilee and Jerusalem would come out to him. In addition to this we find some of the scribes and Pharisees coming unto that place where John the Baptist was baptizing and his stinging rebuke toward them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words and language found in the thirteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel for it helps set the stage for what we will read in this chapter—and not only in this chapter but also in the eleventh chapter as well. It is when you come to the eleventh chapter of this gospel narrative you will find additional commentary concerning John the Baptist and how he would indeed be put in prison by Herod the Tetrarch. There in the prison cell John the Baptist would hear of the great and mighty works the Lord Jesus performed during those days and sent two of his disciples unto Him inquiring of Him whether or not He was the Messiah which was to come or whether they needed to look for another.

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced there is a great need to begin with and from the third chapter of this New Testament gospel for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding John the Baptist and the ministry he had been called to in the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in the third chapter of this gospel narrative for it helps set the stage for the prophetic ministry which he would engage himself in as the forerunner and Messiah for the Messiah. Oh there is something incredibly strong and powerful about the words and language which is found in the third chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative for within it we are introduced to the first prophetic voice that would proclaim the word of the Lord in over four hundred years. From the ending of the prophetic word of Malachi—which would itself come more than a century after the people of God returned from their Babylonian captivity and entered into their own land—there would be a period of four hundred years of silence. For four hundred years there would be no vision from heaven nor would there be any prophet who would speak forth the prophetic word and oracle of the living God. This would in fact fulfill the prophetic word which Amos spoke of a time that would come when there would be a famine in the land—a famine not of bread, nor of water, nor of anything natural in this life but rather a famine for the word of the living God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the prophetic book of Amos concerning this intense period of famine for the word and things of the living God:

 

            “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east. They shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).

 

            Please don’t miss the incredible and tremendous significance of what is found within these particular verses. Within these verses we are indeed brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful and incredible truth proclaimed by Amos concerning days which were to come—days of intense famine within and throughout the land. These days of famine would not be such that would be a famine of bread nor a thirst for water but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. What’s more is the prophetic word of the Lord would go on to declare that men would wander from sea to sea and from the north even to the east running to and fro seeking the word of the LORD. Despite their best efforts, however, and despite their vast searching they would not find that which they were seeking. That which makes this truly astonishing and interesting is when you consider the prophetic word merely spoke of days which were to come which would be characterized by a famine in the land. This famine would not be an ordinary or natural famine for bread or for water but would be a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. It is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand just how significant this truly is for when Malachi would proclaim the word of the Lord he would do so more than a century after the children of Israel had returned unto their own land after a period of captivity in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans. Malachi’s voice and the words which he spoke would be the last time anyone in the earth would hear from the LORD for four hundred years. For four hundred years—that period between the two testaments and covenants—there would be complete and utter silence in the earth for there would be no prophetic vision from heaven that would be spoken among men.

 

            When we come to the narrative surrounding John the Baptist we find this period of four-hundred years of silence drawing to a close. What’s more is that as you read the four gospel narratives written by these specific authors you will find that in the days leading up to and preparing for the arrival of the Messiah there would be angelic visitations and dreams which would be released into the earth. From the angelic visitation of Gabriel to Zacharias beside the altar in the Temple of the LORD concerning the birth of John the Baptist to the angelic visitation of Gabriel unto Mary we find the living God once more beginning to move and stir within the earth. Of course we know there would be other times when there would be angelic visitations taking place in the midst of the earth as the angel of the Lord would appear unto Joseph at other times during those days—first instructing him to take Mary as his wife, secondly to warn him to leave the land because of Herod’s murderous rage, thirdly to return unto the land after the death of Herod and finally warning him of Herod’s son who reigned in the land in the place of his father. During those days there would be the introduction of the movement of the living God which would in fact be characterized by angelic visitations and dreams which would help bring about the fulfillment of that which had been spoken by the prophets.

 

            In coming to the narrative of John the Baptist we find the beginning of the prophetic voice once more being manifested in the midst of the earth. It would be through John the Baptist we find a wonderful and powerful picture of the beginning of the word of the Lord once more being manifested in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is found in the third chapter of this New Testament gospel for within it we are brought face to face with the wonderful truth concerning the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist. It is the words found here in this passage of Scripture that introduce us to this prophetic voice of the LORD that would speak in the earth and call men unto repentance and baptism in water in preparation for the Messiah who was to come. It’s important to note that John the Baptist would do more than proclaim the coming of the kingdom of heaven and would do more than baptize men and women in water unto repentance for the remission of sins for he would also preach and proclaim the Messiah who was to come. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to this first prophetic voice that would be present in the midst of the earth during those days. Having said this I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the first verse of the third chapter:

 

            “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. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: Therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:1-12).

 

            Please don’t miss the words and language found in this passage of Scripture for the words we find here call and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist. It is within this chapter we are brought face to face with this son of Zacharias preaching repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. What’s more is that it’s in this passage of Scripture we find this one being the prophetic fulfillment of the word which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah who prophesied and proclaimed, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” This John the Baptist would indeed be the fulfillment of that which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah and he would also be the fulfillment of the words which were spoken beside the altar in the Temple unto Zacharias by the angel Gabriel. This John the Baptist would indeed be the voice of one crying in the wilderness calling for the preparation of the way of the Lord and for his paths to be made straight, however, he would be so much more than that for his voice would be the first prophetic voice that would speak among men in the earth in four centuries. For four-hundred years there would be complete and utter silence during those days as there would be a famine of the words of the Lord in the land. Much like the days leading up to the word of the LORD coming unto Samuel there was no open vision in the land and the word of the LORD was rare. What’s more is I would dare say that the word of the LORD was not merely rare but was entirely and altogether non-existent.

 

            In the third chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative we are brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding John the Baptist and his bringing forth the word of the Lord during those days. It would be during those days we find John the Baptist preaching and saying, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” John the Baptist would indeed call the people of Jerusalem and Judaea who came unto his baptism unto repentance—and not only calling them to repentance but calling them to repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Moreover this John the Baptist would baptize all who came unto him in Jordan as they confessed their sins. When, however, he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism he would be filled with righteous and holy indignation and would proclaim to be a generation of vipers. Not only this but John the Baptist would also go on to ask them who had warned them to flee from the wrath which was to come He would then call them to bring forth fruits meet for repentance and to think not to say within themselves they had Abraham to their father. John the Baptist would go on to declare and proclaim unto them that God was able of the very stones of the earth to raise up children unto Abraham. Furthermore John the Baptist would go on to declare that the axe was laid unto the root of the trees and how every tree which brought not forth good fruit would be hewn down and cast into the fire. This would be followed by John the Baptist emphatically declaring unto those who came unto him that he indeed baptized with water unto repentance but there would come after him one who was mightier than he whose shoes he was not worthy to bear. This one who would come after him would not only baptize with the Holy Ghost but would also baptize with fire whose fan was in his hand and who would throughly purge his floor.

 

            Upon coming to the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke you will find something else taking place during the days of John the Baptist before he would be cast into prison. It is in the third chapter of the gospel narrative written by Luke you will find this beloved physician writing how the people, the publicans and even the soldiers would come unto John the Baptist asking what they ought to do. Much like those whose consciences were pricked and whose hearts were moved within them on the day of Pentecost when the apostle Peter proclaimed the word of the Lord and preached Jesus crucified, risen and exalted unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven so there would be those who would come unto John the Baptist and would ask what they needed to do. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely tremendous and incredible truth surrounding many who would come unto the baptism of John the Baptist asking and inquiring of him what they needed to do. In light of the words which he spoke the publicans, the people and the soldiers would come unto him asking what they ought to do. With this being said it’s important to consider the following words which are found in the third chapter of the gospel narrative written by Luke concerning the days of John the Baptist and those who would come unto his baptism: ]

 

            “And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:10-14).

 

            The words which we find in this passage of Scripture are incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about them for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the days of John the Baptist. Not only would he preach repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand but he would also baptize those who came unto him confessing their sins. John the Baptist would indeed baptize in water unto repentance for the remission of sins all those who would come unto him with honest and sincere hearts. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding those days and how publicans, soldiers and the people alike would come unto John the Baptist inquiring what they needed to do. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the days of John the Baptist, however, it’s that neither Herod nor even Pontius Pilate came unto John the Baptist seeking to silence the words which he spoke. There is absolutely no mention of the Roman centurions or legions of soldiers coming unto the baptism of John commanding him to cease speaking. There is absolutely no place within any of the four gospels where you find Herod the tetrarch nor even Pontius Pilate coming unto the baptism of John calling upon and commanding him to cease speaking. There appears to be absolutely no offense that would be found within the hearts of any of the Roman centurions nor even within the hearts of Herod the tetrarch or Pontius Pilate. With this being said, however, we will eventually find John the Baptist being cast into prison—and not only cast into prison but cast into prison by Herod the tetrarch.

 

            When you come to the eleventh chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative you will find it written concerning John the Baptist how he was shut up in prison by Herod the tetrarch. What’s more is that even as early as the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find mention of John the Baptist being cast into prison for we find Jesus hearing that John had been cast into prison and departing into Galilee as a direct result. It would be as a direct result of hearing that John the Baptist was cast into prison Jesus would depart from His hometown of Nazareth and would come and dwell in Capernaum that the prophetic word of Isaiah might be fulfilled—“The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” Jesus would hear how John the Baptist would be cast into prison and as a direct result of hearing this word and report he would depart unto the region of Galilee where he would begin teaching and preaching repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. How absolutely incredible it is to consider the fact that Jesus would indeed hear that John the Baptist had been cast into prison and when he had indeed heard this He would depart unto the region of Capernaum where He would teach and preach the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. What’s more is that it would be there in Capernaum where Jesus would heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. From Capernuam the fame of Jesus would spread throughout all Syria and they would bring unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy and he healed them.

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found in the fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel for they help set the tone and the stage for what we find in the eleventh chapter. In the eleventh chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative we find John the Baptist being cast into prison—and not only being cast into prison but also hearing there in prison the wonderful and mighty works which the Lord Jesus was performing in the midst of the earth. As a direct result of hearing of the mighty and wonderful works and deeds which the Lord Jesus would perform in the earth John the Baptist would send two of his disciples unto Jesus inquiring of Him whether or not He was the Messiah which was to come or if they ought to look for another. This is something we must needs acknowledge and understand for these words help serve as the foundation for what we find here in the fourteenth chapter concerning the imprisonment of John the Baptist—and not only the imprisonment but also the ultimate act of beheading him there in the midst of the prison. Oh there is something truly astonishing and remarkable about the words which are found in the eleventh chapter for what we find there in the midst of that passage of Scripture is an incredibly strong and powerful truth concerning John the Baptist and his seeming offense with and doubt of the Lord Jesus. Despite the fact he had seen the heavens opened, despite the fact he saw the Holy Spirit descend in the bodily form as a dove and lighting upon the Lord Jesus, and despite the fact that he heard the voice of the Father proclaiming this to be His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased John the Baptist would still find himself in a place of doubt and offense. This despite the fact that he would be the one who would proclaim concerning Jesus that He was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world.

 

            Having said all of this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the eleventh chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse. Here in this passage of Scripture we not only find John the Baptist [still] in prison but we also find him appearing to wrestle and grapple with hearing of the mighty and wonderful works which were wrought in the earth by the Lord Jesus during those days. With this in mind I invite you to turn and direct your attention to the following words which are found in the eleventh chapter of this new Testament gospel beginning to read with and from the first verse:

 

            “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered, and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Matthew 11:1-6).

 

            It’s absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for there in the prison cell John the Baptist would appear to suffer and struggle with offense and doubt within his heart and soul. There in the prison cell John the Baptist would hear of the mighty and wonderful works which the Lord Jesus Christ would wrought in the earth—this despite the fact he could not see them with his own eyes. The only thing he could do there in the prison was hear of the mighty and wonderful works which the Lord Jesus would perform within and upon the earth. This is something I find absolutely astonishing when you consider the words presented in the fourth chapter of this gospel for there you will find the Lord Jesus hearing of John the Baptist being cast into prison and departing from Galilee and coming unto Capernaum where He would not only preach repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand but would also heal all manner of disease and sickness among those who would come unto Him. It would almost appear that rather than come unto the prison where John the Baptist would be held Jesus would choose to depart unto a different place where He would begin the ministry for which He had been called. Scripture is entirely unclear whether or not John the Baptist expected or even desired Jesus to come unto the prison where he was being held and visit him. We don’t entirely and altogether know that which went through the heart and mind of John the Baptist during those days while he was in prison other than the fact that he appeared to struggle with hearing of the works of the Lord Jesus Christ during those days.

 

            As you continue reading in this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus speaking unto those who were present before and around Him concerning John the Baptist as He would offer high praise and commendation of this prophet of the Lord. If you begin reading with and from the seventh verse of the eleventh chapter of this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus beginning to open His mouth after the disciples of John the Baptist had departed and speaking unto the multitudes concerning this prophet of the Lord. While the disciples of John the Baptist were present before Him the Lord Jesus would instruct and command them to go and show John again those things which they did hear and see—the blind received their sight, the lame walked, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. It’s important to note that not only did Jesus speak unto the disciples of John these words but in another place we actually find Him performing many of the same works which John the Baptist heard in prison before and in the sight of these disciples. These disciples would not only hear of the mighty and wonderful works of the Lord Jesus but they would actually see, witness and behold them with their very own eyes. Having seen and heard the mighty and wonderful works of the Lord Jesus during those days Jesus would send them once more unto John the Baptist in the prison declaring and speaking unto him concerning those things which they had both seen and heard.

 

            Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of this New Testament gospel beginning to read with and from the seventh verse. I am convinced we must needs recognize the words found in this passage of Scripture for they help to further draw and call our attention to just how vital and necessary the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist was during those days. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this chapter beginning to read with and from the seventh verse:

 

            “And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:7-15).

 

            How absolutely incredible it is to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for after Jesus had healed those who were sick, cleansed the lepers, cast out unclean spirits and did many mighty works in the sight of the disciples of John the Baptist He would also instruct them how blessed are those who were not offended in Him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely awesome and wonderful truth for the words of Jesus seem to suggest that there in that prison cell John the Baptist was not only offended with the Lord Jesus but also with the eternal and living God. Scripture doesn’t come right out and declare that John the Baptist was offended, however, we have to deduce from the words which are found in this passage of Scripture that there was some measure and degree of doubt and offense within his heart having heard of the mighty works of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet perhaps not being able to see them with his own eyes. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the fact that Jesus would speak unto the multitudes concerning John and how he was indeed Elljah which was for to come. Jesus would also declare that among those born of women there was not one greater than John the Baptist. In addition to this the Lord Jesus would also declare how from the days of John the Baptist until then the kingdom of heaven suffered violence and the violent took it by force. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would also declare that all the prophets and the law prophesied until John, thus signifying that John the Baptist would preach and proclaim something new and entirely different during those days.

 

            When we come to the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we are indeed brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding John the Baptist, Jesus and even Herod himself. As you begin reading with and from the opening verse of the fourteenth chapter you will find that Herod the tetrarch would hear of the fame of Jesus during those days. This Herod the tetrarch would speak and proclaim unto his servants that this Jesus was John the Baptist who had been risen from the dead and therefore mighty works did show forth themselves in him. It’s incredibly interesting to consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words we find here reveal that John the Baptist was at this time dead. What’s more is that as you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find and discover how the death of John the Baptist would indeed come t pass. The apostle Matthew would write how Herod had laid hold on John and bound him and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake who was his brother Philip’s wife. What’s more is the apostle Matthew would go on to write and reveal how John the Baptist would reprove and rebuke Herod on account of his brother’s wife and declare unto him how it was not lawful for him to have her. Oh we must needs recognize and understand that which is found in this passage of Scripture for Herod and even Herodias would take and find absolutely no offense or wrong in any of the words which John the Baptist would speak during those days. Neither Herod nor Herodias would take any offense with John the Baptist calling on men and women to repentance during those days and would almost appear to be unbothered and unaffected by the words he would preach and speak during those days.

 

            What we find within this passage of Scripture is actually quite astonishing and remarkable when you take the time to think about it for within it we are brought face to face with that which ultimately landed John the Baptist in prison. It’s important to note that he would be imprisoned because he rebuked the Sadducees and the Pharisees who had come unto his baptism. John the Baptist called the Sadducees and the Pharisees a brood and generation of vipers and would not find himself in the crosshairs for such bold words spoken unto the religious elite of that day. John the Baptist would call men and women to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand and there would be none who would lay hold of him and cast him into prison for such words. John the Baptist would baptize men and women in the waters round about the Jordan River there in Judaea and there would not be a single one who would lay hold of him and cast him into prison. It’s truly interesting to read the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative for we find John the Baptist being cast into prison—not because Herod took offense with any of the words he preached. The reason John the Baptist was cast into prison was because he dared speak forth words which struck a little too close to home for Herod and Herodias. John the Baptist would indeed be cast into prison—not because of his call unto men and women to repent but rather because he rebuked and condemned Herod on account of Herodias his brother Philip’s wife. John the Baptist dared speak out against the immorality, the adultery, the fornication and the wickedness in the government during that day and as a direct result of it he would find himself in the crosshairs of Herodias.

 

            It’s important for us to pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words we find here call and draw our attention to the absolutely tremendous and incredible truth surrounding John the Baptist and his being cast into prison—and not only his being cast into prison but also his being beheaded. We must needs recognize that John the Baptist was indeed cast into prison—not because he called men and women to repent but rather because he dared speak against the wickedness in the government. John the Baptist dared speak against the wickedness, the immorality, the adultery and the fornication that was present in the midst of the government during those days and as a direct result of this the government would train their crosshairs directly upon John the Baptist. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the only thing that would land John the Baptist in prison. John the Baptist would indeed preach repentance and would emphatically declare that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and no one in the government would bat an eye. Oh I am absolutely convinced there is something we must needs recognize and understand this—particularly and especially during our own days and generation. I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with that which is present during our own days and generation.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but think about how there are countless men and women who can preach the gospel of the kingdom and who can even call men and women to repentance without drawing the attention, the angst, the ire and the hatred and animosity of those in positions of authority and government. There are pastors and ministers of the gospel who can preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ from behind the pulpits and can do so without having any type of concern their words are drawing the attention and offense of those who are in authority. When, however, the narrative shifts and changes and these preachers and ministers begin speaking out against the establishment and the government things begin to dramatically change What’s more is that when men and women begin to speak out against the government and speak out against the corruption, the wickedness, the immorality and the like which is present in the midst of it the government can and will tend to react in a manner that will call those into question those who would dare speak against it. The government and those in positions of power and authority can and will do absolutely anything and everything to protect and guard themselves from others who would dare speak against the wickedness, the immorality, the adultery, the fornication and the iniquity that is found within them. There are countless men and women during these days who will find themselves in the crosshairs of big tech, the media and perhaps even in some cases the government itself. There are men and women present during the days in which we are living in who find themselves in a place and position where they are living with crosshairs on their back and a bullseye upon their chests because of the words they speak about and perhaps even against the government.

 

            The more I think about the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth of John the Baptist and how he was able to preach repentance and baptize in water without seemingly upsetting and offending the status quo and those in positions of authority and power during those days. The minute his teaching and preaching struck a little too close to home, however, John the Baptist would find himself in prison. John the Baptist would begin rebuking and indicting the government during those days for its wickedness, its adultery, its fornication and its evil and as a direct result of this he would find himself being cast into prison. What’s more is that in addition to his being cast into prison he would also find himself the target of the rage, the anger and the offense of Herodias. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding John the Baptist being the target of Herodias’ anger, rage and offense. I am convinced if Herodias had her way John the Baptist might have been put to death rather than cast into prison, however, Herod feared the multitude because they counted him as a prophet. Herodias would have had John the Baptist put to death, however, because Herod feared the multitude he would have him imprisoned and shut up from the public rather than be put to death. Because John the Baptist dared speak against the wickedness that was present within the government Herod would have him shut up in the prison where he would ultimately be until the time of his death and beheading.

 

            I sit here writing these words and I can’t help but be incredibly captivated with the narrative of John the Baptist and how not only was he cast  into prison because he spoke out against the immorality and iniquity in the government but he would also be the continued target of the offense and bitterness of Herodias. Scripture provides absolutely no clue or indication concerning the thoughts of Herod and whether or not Herod would have just assumed keep John alive. We do know that when Herodias’ daughter ask for the head of John the Baptist on a silver charger he was reluctant and hesitant on actually carrying out the request because the people regarded him as a prophet. There does seem to be an indication found within this passage of Scripture that Herod would have just assume keep John the Baptist in prison and thus make him out of sight and out of mind. We know for a fact that Herodias wanted John the Baptist put to death right away and yet Herod was unwilling to do so because he feared the people. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many days and nights Herodias fumed within herself knowing that John the Baptist was still alive—and not only that John the Baptist was still alive but that Herod was refusing to put him to death. There is something incredibly unique and powerful about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it indicates the continued offense and resentment of Herodias toward and against John the Baptist. Herodias was undoubtedly the one who had put pressure on John the Baptist to be put to death and might have been shocked and surprised to find Herod unwilling to actually put him to death. Instead of putting him to death Herod would choose to put John the Baptist in prison—something I am convinced is actually a testimony in and of itself for it demonstrates the fact that he had served and fulfilled his purpose in that generation.

 

            The words which we find in the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative calls and draws our attention to the offense and resentment of Herodias toward John the Baptist. We must needs recognize that it was Herodias’ offense with and toward John the Baptist that did in fact cause her to put the pressure on Herod to deal with him. We know that Herod was unwilling to put John the Baptist to death and chose instead to have him imprisoned where he would indeed remain until the time of his death and beheading. What we find in this passage of Scripture calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding John the Baptist being cast into prison as a direct result of the words which he dared speak out against Herodias and Herod. Scripture makes it perfectly clear that John the Baptist was bold in the words which he spoke concerning and against Herod on account of Herodias—and not only on account of Herodias but also on account of the wickedness that had been committed by him. Even Luke writes how in addition to and on top of all the wickedness committed by Herod he would add the imprisonment of John the Baptist to it all. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely incredible truth surrounding John the Baptist who was a prophet of the Lord and who dared speak against the evil and wickedness that was found in the government of that day.

 

            I read the words found in the fourteenth chapter and I am brought face to face with the awesome truth surrounding this prophet of the most High God who was indeed willing to raise his voice and speak against the corruption that was found in the government. What’s more is that we are living and have been living during days of tremendous risk in choosing to raise your voice and speak against government in this generation. We are living and have been living during days of tremendous and intense censorship and the silencing of those voices who dare speak out against the status quo and who dare speak out against the establishment. Over the past almost two years the phrase “cancel culture” has become a phrase most synonomous with the systematic silencing of those who would dare speak out against the government, against the vaccine and mask mandates, those who might be perceived as spreading misinformation and the like so much more. There have been countless assaults and attacks against countless men and women who have dared lift their voice against the narrative the news and media has been presenting to us. There have been a number of men and women who have been the target of the wrath, the rage and the fury of big tech, big media and even the government itself because they have dared speak against the establishment and the political order and agenda of today. If there is one thing I absolutely love about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s how John the Baptist was entirely and altogether unwilling to be silent and refused to blink and wink at iniquity and immorality. John the Baptist saw and beheld wickedness in the government and dared speak out against that wickedness by rebuking Herod and Herodias for their relationship.

 

            I find myself being absolutely and incredibly astonished by the words found within this passage of Scripture for they call and bring us face to face with the tremendous pressure the government placed on John the Baptist for his words. John the Baptist dared speak out against the government and the wickedness and iniquity that was found therein and as a direct result of his words he was effectively silenced and cancelled. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding John the Baptist being silenced and cancelled by being cast into prison before he would ultimately be silenced forever. Herod would initially and originally have John the Baptist cancelled and silenced because of the words which he had spoken against him and the relationship he had with Herodias who was his brother Philip’s wife. In all reality I would dare say the words presented in this passage of Scripture call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth of cancel culture and the silencing of those voices which dare speak for the living God. What’s more is we have within this passage a continuation of the incredible picture of how the government, kings and rulers in the land of Judaea always sought to silence and cancel the voices of the prophets. From the time of Elijah, to Isaiah, to Jeremiah, to Amos, to Hosea, to the various other Hebrew prophets we find the kings and rulers of old times seeking to silence the prophetic voice of the prophet.

 

            When we read the narrative of John the Baptist we are indeed brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding this prophet of the Lord and how the government raised itself up to both silence and cancel him. Herod the tetrarch was very much aware of the words John the Baptist had spoken against the relationship he had with Herodias his brother Philip’s wife and as a direct result of this he would have him silenced and cancelled. What makes this truly unique when thinking about and considering it is that Herodias would have had John the Baptist permanently silenced and cancelled as a result of the words which he spoke against the relationship she had with Herod. Herod feared the people and how many perceived him to be a prophet and man of God and was unwilling to actually put him to death. If there is one thing that is truly unique when considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s how although John the Baptist being placed in prison might have seemed liked Herod silencing and cancelling him I would dare say that it was a witness and testimony to the work which he had engaged himself in the earth. It was John the Baptist who had declared how he must decrease that the Lord Jesus might increase and his being placed in prison would indeed be the ultimate decrease. What’s more is I would dare say that if John the Baptist had not fulfilled that which was ordained and appointed for him during those days Herod would have had absolutely no authority over him to put him in prison. I am absolutely convinced that Herod only had authority over him to put him in prison because he had indeed fulfilled and accomplished everything that was ordained and appointed for him to do.

 

            As you continue reading the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find John the Baptist being put to death and Jesus’ hearing of the death of this prophet and man of God. The apostle Matthew writes and records how when Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist he departed by ship into a desert place apart. When, however, the people heard of this they followed him on foot out of the cities being a great multitude. Jesus would see the great multitude and was moved with compassion toward them and healed their sick. Scripture reveals how Jesus would spend a vast portion of the day healing the sick that were brought unto Him and how when the time of the evening came the disciples came to Him speaking of that place as being a desert place and the time being past. The disciples urged Jesus to send the crowd and multitude away into the towns and villages that they might buy for themselves victuals, however, the Lord Jesus would say unto them that the crowds and multitudes did not need to depart and instructed them to give them to eat. The disciples would respond to the words which the Lord Jesus spoke by declaring how they only had five loaves of bread and two fishes—words which would cause the Lord Jesus to urge them to bring what they had unto Him. Jesus would then command the multitude to sit down on the grass and took the five loaves and the two fishes and looked up to heaven before blessing and breaking and giving the loaves to His disciples. What I so love about this miracle is that not only did all those who were present eat but they did eat until they were filled. Moreover not only did all those who were present eat and be filled but they took up of the fragments of that which remained twelve baskets full. Not only were all those who were present—five thousand men not including women and children—but so also were the baskets themselves full.

 

            In bringing this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the absolutely tremendous truth surrounding the power and authority of Jesus. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the absolute power and authority of the Lord Jesus. Not only did Jesus exercise power and authority over these five loaves of bread and two fish in multiplying it so that the multitude would be filled but immediately after this we find Jesus exercising power and authority over the wind and the waves of the sea. As you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will be brought face to face with Jesus sending the disciples ahead of him unto the other side while He Himself sent the multitudes away. When he had sent the multitudes away he went up into a mountain apart to pray before His father which was in heaven. When the evening was come He was there upon the mountain alone but the ship in which His disciples were was in the midst of the sea tossed with waves because the wind was contrary. The apostle Matthew writes and records how in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them walking on the sea in the midst of the wind and the waves. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were troubled perceiving Jesus as being a spirit and cried out for fear. Jesus heard their cries and immediately spake unto them and commanded them to be of good cheer for it was Him. Simon Peter would hear the words which the Lord had spoken unto him and would declare that if it was indeed Jesus He would bid him to come unto him upon the water. Jesus would invite Jesus to come unto Him upon the waters of the sea and Simon called Peter would step out of the boat.

 

            If there is one thing I absolutely love about this passage is the tremendous courage and boldness of the apostle Peter in being willing to step out of the boat and step on to the waters of the sea. While I am astonished at the faith which Simon called Peter initially land originally exercised during this time I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that none of the other twelve disciples dared follow his lead in stepping out of the ship. Pause for a moment and consider what would and could have happened on this particular occasion if immediately after Simon stepped out of the boat James and John would themselves step out of the ship and stand with him upon the waters of the sea. I am absolutely convinced there could have and perhaps should have been a fellowship of the storm that stood upon the waters of the sea in the midst of the storm as all twelve disciples could and should have stepped out of the ship and on to the waters of the sea. Pause for a moment and consider what it would and could have looked like for all twelve of the disciples to stand upon the waters of the sea on this particular evening during the fourth watch. We know there was a fellowship of the fire during the days of the captivity of the children of Israel as although Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were cast bound and alive into the furnace of fire there would be four men walking in the midst of the fire unbound and very much alive with one of them looking as though they were the Son of man. This is something we have a great need of recognizing and paying close attention to for there were indeed three men who could not only stand in the midst of the fire but also walk in the midst of it together with one whose appearance was like the Son of man. I firmly believe that when we think about the storm which was upon the sea on this particular occasion there could and should have been a fellowship of the storm—a fellowship of those who were not only willing to walk upon the waters of the sea in the midst of the wind and the waves but also stand together with Jesus in the midst of the storm.

 

I find it absolutely incredible to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous courage and boldness the apostle Peter had by stepping out of the boat and on to the waters of the sea. With this being said, however, there is a tremendous indictment that is found in this passage of Scripture for while it was indeed true Simon called Peter stepped out of the ship and on to the waters of the sea the other eleven disciples chose to remain in the ship. We know that Simon would allow his eyes to get fixed on the wind and the waves and the rain round about him and as a direct result of this would begin sinking before crying out to the Lord to save him. There would be those who would look at the sinking of the apostle Peter and rebuke and condemn his doubt and lack of faith. We know that when Jesus stretched forth His hand and rescued his disciple he would speak unto him as being of little faith and doubting. The Lord Jesus not only spoke of Simon called Peter being of little faith but would also ask him why he doubted. It is important to recognize that it was indeed true that Simon called Peter did doubt and that he did allow his faith to be wavered and shaken by the wind and the waves round about him, however, it must be understood that he was the only disciple who actually stepped out of the boat and on to the waters of the sea. There should have indeed been a fellowship of the storm as the disciples stood there together before and round about the Lord Jesus in the midst of the storm. The disciples themselves would have been a fellowship of the storm who stood in the midst of the storm together with Jesus. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that we have been called into this place of being a fellowship of the storm together with the Lord Jesus—those who possess the faith, the courage, the boldness and the strength to be able to step out of the ship(s) we allow ourselves to be stuck in that we might not only stand upon the waters of the sea but also walk in the midst of the wind and the waves until we reach that place where we stand in the midst of the storm together with Jesus.

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