John the Baptist, The Forerunner
The last book of the Old Testament is Malachi. The last chapter is chapter four. The last verses are verses four and five. They say, “Behold I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”
He is called the Forerunner who will announce to Israel the coming of the Messiah who would bring the final judgment of God. He would call the nation to repentance, a repentance that would show itself in a restoration of the father’s duty to communicate the truth to his children. (Deut. 6:4-7)
This is how our Old Testament “signs off.” It says “look for the coming of a prophet like Elijah” or as Gabriel will say, one “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” What is interesting, yea fascinating, is that the first thing recorded in the New Testament is the last thing in the Old – the coming of the Forerunner. Gabriel appeared to Zacharias in the temple to say “he is coming.”
Imagine John the Baptist like the Supreme Court Chief Justice. At the swearing in, or the inauguration of an American President, the Chief Justice must be present to pass the mantle on to the next President. He authenticates the ceremony. In the same way John the Baptist was the Chief Justice, the key that fit the lock to open the door for Messiah. The last of the Old Testament is the prophecy of the beginning of the New.
John did six things.
- He announcedthe Messiah. “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- He collecteda group of disciples that he would hand over to Messiah. “He must increase. I must decrease.”
- He called the nation to repentance; to a proper understanding of true righteousness versus legal righteousness.
- He denounced the nation’s leaders, calling them “sons of vipers.”
- He clarified just who MessiahHe was not just a man but “existed before” John. He was divine.
- But most of all he pointed out Jesusto the nation. “Behold the Lamb of God.” Upon his baptism of Jesus, the Spirit descended like a dove and the Father spoke from heaven. “This is my Son.”
Only one man can be the Christ. The man upon whom the Spirit rests, of whom the Father speaks . . .
and the one of whom the final word of the Old Testament,
the last prophet
would look to and say, “Behold, the Incomparable Christ.”