Sometimes we find people who are not like us a bit weird. This tends to create a barrier between that individual and the rest of society. They become the “outcast” who isn’t invited to all the dinner parties. I think the North Pond Hermit had a point when asked why he decided on that lifestyle. He asked the question, “Who is strange? The one who decides to live free or the one who sits behind a desk for 8-10 hours a day staring at a computer screen?” I don’t condone his criminal activity but I think the man has a point.
John the Baptist was a bit of an eccentric man to say the least. You would think a prophet of God would want to have his message heard in the temple where all the Biblical teachers could listen. Maybe he would sit in the city gates to catch all those who come and go. Instead John was sent to the wilderness. When people ventured out to see this wilderness prophet, they saw a scruffy woodsman. He wore a poncho made of Camel’s hair. In fact, because Chick Fil A sauce wasn’t invented yet, he had to dip his wild locusts in honey. I think God did this to get everyone’s attention. It’s like Jeremiah burying his cloak until it was rotten, Ezekiel having to dig a hole through the wall while he preached, or Isaiah giving sermons while in his underwear. There is something about God that wants his prophets to get people’s attention with more than just their words. Surely this long haired, rough around the edges, desert preacher would get people’s attention.
There are a few key things to point out about this man
- Jesus had some pretty incredible things to say about him, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matt 11:11)
- He served humbly. This is summed up well in his statement, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3:30)
- He never did a miracle but had a tremendous impact
Sometimes God uses the person you least expect to prepare His way. This reminds me of a story about Abraham Lincoln.
- Old Honest Abe held a few jobs before occupying the White House. He worked as a storekeeper, a postmaster, and flat-boated down the Mississippi. He even considered becoming a blacksmith until one-day opportunity came knocking - well sort of.
- Abe told the story this way:
- One day a man who was migrating to the West drove up in front of my store with a wagon which contained his family and household goods. He asked me if I'd buy an old barrel for which he had no room in his wagon. He said it contained nothing of special value.
- I didn't want it, but to oblige him I bought it and paid, I'm thinking, half a dollar. Without further examination I put it away in the store and forgot all about it.
- Sometime after, in overhauling things I came upon the barrel, and emptying it out upon the floor to see what it contained I found at the bottom of the rubbish a complete edition of Blackstone's Commentaries. I began to read these famous works on the law. I had plenty of time during the long summer days when farmers were busy with their crops and my customers were few and far between. The more I read the more intensely interested I became. Never in my whole life was my mind so thoroughly absorbed. I read it until I devoured them.
Truly John the Baptist was an incredible man of God. He broke the 400-year revelation silence from God. He prepared the way for the Messiah. He brought people back from the distractions of life to the quiet retreat of a wilderness revival. Most of all, he stayed faithful to the mission of God by preaching the message of God unapologetically.
For more on this lesson stay tuned to my next blog post or listen to the whole sermon here.
Footnote 1--This first paragraph was taken from an online NY Post