Understanding the Forerunner Ministry – The Word in the Wilderness

“There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John” (Jn. 1:6).

Any Hebrew instructed in the Old Testament fully anticipated a precursor ministry heralding the appearance of the Messiah.

700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah declared, “the voice of one that crieth,” and spoke of him who would, “prepare in the wilderness the way of Jehovah,” and “make level in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa. 40:3).

Any good Hebrew would be aware that this type of forerunner would come before the appearing of the Christ.  They were not expecting, however, the manner in which the forerunner would originate.

John was extracted from the current religious order.  God saw fit to ‘break the chain’ of the existing priesthood in order to transition to the next step in His Divine plan.  God took this young lad named, John, and led him to the wilderness. And the little boy grew and became strong in spirit; and he was in the deserts (wilderness) until the day of his appearing to Israel [the commencement of his public ministry]. (Luke 1:80)

Historically, a wilderness experience is utilized by God in order to prepare and initiate desired transitions.  This is clearly seen, first,  in the development of Moses and, then, in the nation of Israel as a whole.  Israel’s release from an Egyptian system that had them bound resulted in a 40 year wilderness experience that was designed to prepare a people who were capable of entering the fullness that God had prepared for them to enter.

The point of a wilderness experience is that God and God alone becomes the source of Life.  This principle is beautifully encapsulated in Isaiah 43:

 Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

The wilderness is where God makes Himself completely necessary and keeps purity in the transition He is bringing in the earth.

Luke, chapter 3 tells us that during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the Word of God came to John in the wilderness.  Notice, that despite John being plucked out of the existing order and taken into the wilderness, the pre-existing system was continuing along just fine.  However, the Word of God did not come to Annas and Caiaphas.  Instead, the Word of God came to John who was strategically positioned in the seemingly barren place of the wilderness.  But, God was there with John in the wilderness.  And, He was speaking!

The “Word of God” here, is not the written word.  Scripture says that the “rhema” of God came to John in the wilderness.  Rhema literally means, “that which is or has been uttered by the living voice.”

In the wilderness, for 30 years or so, John was hearing God’s explanation of all the Old Testament scriptures.  The Christ was being revealed to him and God was the source of this revelation.  John was no longer dealing with the types and shadows of the Christ found in the Old or according to religious traditions of men. He was receiving a clear revelation of Christ’s identity.  He would see him.  He would point to the Christ!  John would declare the Anointed One!

The Word “came” to John. It did not come to the high priests of the day and through the old established order.

‘Ginomai’, the greek word for “came” means;”to become, to come into existence, begin to be, receive being.”  God’s Word left the tablets of stone and were written on the heart of a man.

According to God’s purpose, His Word had finally been set free from the tabernacle/temple forms and existed in the fleshly tabernacle of a man who was peculiarly His.  This was the transition God was initiating in the earth:

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel; not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt,  My covenant which they broke, although I was their Husband, says the Lord.”

” But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, says the Lord, I will put My law within them, and on their hearts will I write it; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.”

“And they will no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they will all know Me [recognize, understand, and be acquainted with Me], from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”   (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

This is the reason for the zeal and passion that John carried in his purpose.  In the concluding book of the Old Testament, Malachi declared: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, who ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he comes, saith Jehovah” (3:1).

The time had come for transition from the Old to the New.  God staked His claim on the life of a baby produced by a miraculous birth and broke the traditions of man.  30 years of wilderness training through pure revelation of God’s purposes ultimately produced a man sent from God that would accomplish His purposes in the earth.  John was a key figure in the preparation of the Messiah’s work.


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