Another key fulfillment of prophecy which must needs occur in order for God’s Messiah to be accurately identified was the advent of His Forerunner.  John the Baptist amply fulfilled this necessary qualification.  Matthew identifies him as the one prophesied in Isaiah 40, the voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”  This is an incidental proof of Christ’s deity, for the prophecy calls it “the way of the LORD (Jehovah).”  He goes on to say, “Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”  For whom did John prepare this desert highway?  None other than the Lord Jesus, Who then must truly and properly be Jehovah God.

John the Baptist was also predicted by the prophet Malachi, who spoke first of a messenger sent before the face of the Lord (another incidental proof of our Lord’s proper deity), and then in the final chapter of the Old Testament he foretold that Elijah the prophet would be sent before the great and terrible day of the Lord.  Later on in this gospel, Christ identifies Elijah the prophet as John the Baptist.  It is quite easy to see the comparison when we see John as a lone wild man out in the desert, living his spartan lifestyle, thundering the doctrines of repentance and coming judgment.  Indeed, he was very much akin to that prophet to whom Malachi would compare him.  God will not permit one of His words to fall to the ground.

Perhaps because of this remarkable similarity to Elijah, but primarily through the sovereign operations of God upon the hearts of the people, John began to attract large crowds.  He was preaching things unfamiliar to Jewish ears, and instituting a new ordinance, the immersion of men and women in water upon a profession of repentance.  It is very noteworthy that John only baptized upon a confession of sin, and also that along with his doctrine he preached Christ.  It is no good to confess one’s sins if he has no hope in Christ.  In regard to another common error that has plagued the church, we ought also to say that it is scarcely possible for an infant to confess its sins.  We may therefore easily conclude that John was not baptizing infants in the river Jordan.

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