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060 The Prophet John

And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways’ Luke 1:76

Key Verse:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant, David; as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been since the ages began” 

Luke 1:67-70

(Luke 1)

We finished our journey through the first section of the Holy Scriptures, the section that contains the Pentateuch (the first five books of Moses), the Psalms and other parts of the Holy Scriptures. That first section is called the First Covenant, also known as the Old Testament.” We now begin our study of the second section of the Word of God, which is called the New Testament, that is,

the New Covenant.

Why did God separate His holy Book into two sections, a First Covenant (Old Testament) and a New Covenant (New Testament)? God had many reasons for doing this. Perhaps the first thing we need to understand is that all the words in the First covenant were written

before the Messiah was born,

while the words of the New Covenant were written

after the Messiah was born.

Thus, the message of God’s prophets in the First Covenant was: “God will send the Messiah!” But the message of the New Covenant is: “God has sent the Messiah, just as He promised through His prophets in the First Covenant!”

Is this important difference between the First Covenant and the New Covenant clear in your mind? Some people criticise the Holy Scriptures because it has an Old Testament and a New Testament. They think that New Testament means that someone has attempted to cancel and replace the original Holy Scriptures with another book! But that is not the way it is. The New Testament, that is, the New Covenant, does not cancel what the prophets wrote in the First Covenant—

it confirms what the prophets wrote!

The New Covenant shows how God fulfilled the promises and prophecies and symbols of the First Covenant. In the First Covenant, all the prophets were announcing: “The Messiah will come! He will come! He will come!” But the message of the book of the New Covenant is:

“The Messiah has come!

The Messiah, of whom all the prophets spoke and wrote, has comeHe has come!”

Yes, we should thank God with a joyful heart that the Holy Scriptures contain a First Covenant and a New Covenant. Because in those two sections, we can see that what God promised so long ago—He has accomplished!

God has sent us a Savior,

just as He promised our ancestors in the Pentateuch, the Psalms and the other books of the prophets. As the seed of the baobab grows up into a mighty baobab tree, in a similar way the First Covenant comes to maturity in the New Covenant.

As you may know, the second section of the Holy Scriptures, the New Testament, has another name. That name is the Good News or The Gospel. Truly, the message of the book of the Gospel is extremely good news, because it tells how the Messiah fulfilled what the prophets announced, thus opening for the children of Adam

a door of peace with God forever!

Concerning the Book of the Gospel, you need to understand that the Messiah Himself did not write it. Just as God used many men to write the book of the Old Testament, so He used many men to write the book of the New Testament. God used

four men

to write the story of the Messiah who came to earth. Those four men were named MatthewMarkLuke, and John. Why did God inspire four people to write the story of the Messiah? Why did He not just use one person to write the book of the Gospel? Here is the reason: God wanted to communicate to us a message which would be beyond doubt and worthy of full confidence. He used four writers

in order to confirm His word.

Just as a table with four legs is more stable than a table with one leg, so four witnesses are more reliable than a single witness. God employed four witnesses, so that we might know that everything written in the Book of the Gospel concerning the Messiah is

absolutely true!

Just as God placed His words in the minds of the prophets, so God also guided four people who lived in the same period as the Messiah to write what they had seen and heard concerning the Savior of the world.{Note: Actually, God inspired

eight men

to write about the Messiah. The letters of the apostles Paul, Peter, James and Jude are also part of the Gospel Writings—and everything they wrote is in perfect and glorious harmony!}

Do you know in which language Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote the holy book of the Gospel?

They wrote it in the Greek language.

However, we will be reading it in English since most of us do not understand Greek! We thank God that He put it into the hearts of some scholars to translate the Gospel for us from Greek into English. Thus, the book of the Gospel we have in our hands today is in total harmony with that which God placed in the minds of

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Yes, sometimes we hear those who try to fight against the book of the Gospel, saying, “No one can trust it. It has been tampered with! It contains errors and contradictions!” Friends, the one who fights with the holy Gospel is fighting with God Himself. “An egg should not wrestle with a rock!”. The Holy Scriptures are worthy of our full confidence and obedience. Just as the Word of God is perfect in the Pentateuch and the Psalms, so it is also perfect in the Gospel! The Holy Scriptures cannot be broken.

God is great and is able to protect His Eternal Word!

He has preserved His Truth for all those who seek after it with all their heart. No one can actually alter the living and enduring Word of God! That is what the Lord Himself declares in the Gospel when He says: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away!” (Matthew 24:35)

Now then, the moment for us to begin our journey through the book of the Gospel, the New Testament, has arrived. In our last lesson, we read about the prophet Malachi who lived four hundred years before the Messiah. During those four hundred years following the time of Malachi, God did not send to the Jews anymore prophets to write the Word of God.

Why did God not send any more prophets?

He sent no more prophets because the book of the First Covenant (Old Testament) was complete. God had said everything He wanted to say through the prophets. Now God was waiting for the appointed hour when He would bring the Messiah into the world so that

He might establish the New Testament.

We have already read what the prophets Isaiah and Malachi foretold concerning God’s plan to send a prophet before the Messiah to prepare the way before Him. Do you know which prophet that was? Yes, it was

the prophet John.

John’s father was Zacharias. Zacharias was a priest who served God and the people by offering animal sacrifices on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem.

Let us now open the holy Gospel and hear what Luke wrote concerning the prophet John’s birth. Reading in chapter one, the Scripture says: (Luke 1:5-8,10-25) “There was, in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless. And they had no child, because Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass that, while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course … the whole multitude of people were praying outside at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife, Elisabeth, shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name

John.

And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and

he shall be filled with Holy Spirit,

even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord, their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel, answering, said unto him, I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings. And behold,

thou shalt be dumb,

and not be able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; for he made signs unto them, and

remained speechless.

And it came to pass that, as soon as the days of his service were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife, Elisabeth, conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days which he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men”.

We see how God sent the angel Gabriel to Zacharias to announce to him how Elizabeth his wife would have a son.

This son would become a great prophet

who would prepare the way before the Messiah. Thus in the end of the chapter, the Scripture says: (Luke 1:57-75) “Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shown great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass that, on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called

John.

And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying,

His name is John.

And they all marvelled. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue was loosed, and he spoke, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them; and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And

the hand of the Lord was with him.nd his father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant, David; as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been since the ages began; that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he swore to our father, Abraham, that he would grant unto us that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life”.

After Zacharias had said this, he turned toward John, the baby, and said, (verses 76-79) “and thou, child, shall be called

the prophet of the Highest;

for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the rising sun has come to us from heaven, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace”

Thus did Zacharias praise God following the birth of John because he knew that

the time for the Messiah to be born had arrived!

John, the son of Zacharias, was not the Messiah, but the one who would come before the Messiah, in order to announce the Messiah’s arrival and prepare the way before Him.

We urge you to continue in the next lesson and read the story about how God sent His angel Gabriel to a virgin by the name of Mary to announce to her a very important message. The next lesson is full of valuable truth. Don’t miss it!

God bless you as you meditate on these words of Zacharias: 

“Praise be to the Lord! . . . and hath raised up [a mighty Savior] for us in the house of His servant, David; as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets since the ages began!” (Luke 1:68-70).

We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any questions that you might have