By Eric Wheeler

When it was time for the Messiah to be introduced into the world for His first Coming, God sent the Archangel Gabriel to visit Zacharias, a priest who served in the Temple. Gabriel told Zacharias that his wife, Elizabeth, would soon give birth to a baby boy which he was to call John. It was told Zacharias that John would be great in the sight of the Lord, and that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. The Holy Scriptures say that “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” (Luke 1:16-17).

Later on after John was born, Zacharias, his father, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied the following: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people. And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; And as He spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world 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. 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; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us; to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:67-79).

Many years later when John was a grown man, “the word of God came unto him in the wilderness. And so he went into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. As it is written in the Book of Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare you the way of the Lord; make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low. And the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:2-6).

Many people came forth to be baptized of John. Luke 3:7 calls it “a multitude”. There were Jews and Israelites, Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, publicans, prostitutes, soldiers, priests, Levites, and many others that went out to hear John and to be baptized of him. It is interesting to note, that the people came unto John to hear him speak and to be baptized of him. He did not go out to them. They were led to him. “And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem . . .” (Mark 1:5). The Holy Spirit showed me something remarkable about this awhile back in a vision. It pointed out that many different people from many different cultures and denominations of men came unto John and were drawn there by the Holy Spirit to hear John’s preaching and become convicted. The Holy Spirit also described those diverse people who were led to John, by saying, “Behold those who hear the voice of the Lamb.” While I was still in the same vision, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Just as I called those chosen animals which were to be saved unto Noah and the Ark, so do I cause out of every people those which should be saved to hear my voice.” That voice being referred to in this vision was John the Baptist’s — “the voice crying in the wilderness” — which was really the voice of God.

At another time, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Lift up the light, and the children of light will come unto the light, but the children of darkness will turn away.” I didn’t understand that saying until a few weeks ago. Jesus said that John was “a burning and a shining light” and that the self-righteous Jews (people of God) were willing for a season to rejoice in his light (John 5:35). However, John “came for a witness, to bear witness of the true Light that all men through him might believe. He [John] was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That [Light] was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world” (John 1:6-9). And Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world” (John 9:5). “While you have Light, believe in the Light, that you may be the children of light” (John 12:36). However, “this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be discovered. But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are worked in God” (John 3:19-21).

Jesus told us that John the Baptist was the “Elijah” that was prophesied to come before His First Coming. And Jesus said that “Elijah” will also come again and restore all things before His Second Coming (Matt.17:11). John the Baptist fulfilled this office the first time. But, Jesus’ Second Coming will be more glorious than the First. Therefore, the work of the “Elijah to come” will also be more glorious and far-reaching. I believe that the Holy Spirit has shown me a little of what is ahead.

I was shown that just as the Work of God was being done by John the Baptist under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit in the “wilderness”, apart from the Temple or its organized membership, the same will be true in the future. I do not see one worldwide organization or church heading up the Work of God or serving as the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit. But rather, individuals ordained by the Spirit of God, and not ordained by men, will serve as witnesses and messengers. God is going to speak to His people everywhere through them – “to prepare a people for their God”. These people will be called out of every nation, church, organization, race, and background. They will be “a people which were not a people”. And God Himself will teach them, as was begun with the preaching of John the Baptist and culminated into the ministry of Christ and His Disciples.

Before the First Coming, it had been approximately 430 years since the word of God had come down from heaven upon the heads of men and women — that is, that we have record of in the Bible. After the books of Daniel and Malachi (known as the Inter-Testament period), it appears that there was a “famine of the word” as was prophesied in Amos 8:11. Then, at the time appointed, God sent Gabriel to tell Zacharias that the time had come that God would once again visit His people. God would give Zacharias a son, which he was to name John, who would “go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people . . . and to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:76-79).

It is interesting to note here that the people of God were described as “sitting in darkness”. It brings to mind the words of Jesus when He described the future state of His people in His Church during the last days: “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you might see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent!” (Rev. 3:17-19).

When the word of God came down upon John the Baptist in the wilderness, he began to preach to the people of God the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Luke 3:2-3). When Jesus came down from heaven as the Word of God, He too, began His ministry by telling the people of God to “Repent, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). And when the Holy Spirit came upon Peter and he began to preach to the people of God, he told them to “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you . . . For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39). Notice, in every case, that when the word of God came down, it was telling the people of God to repent! In other words, those people who should have been right with God, thought they were right with God, but weren’t! And as Jesus said, they are those “which trusted in themselves that they were righteous” (Luke 18:9). Paul warned the Church, “Let him that thinks he stands take heed” (1 Cor. 10:12).

Here is the meaning to the above statement that the Holy Spirit spoke saying: “Lift up the light, and the children of light will come unto it, but the children of darkness will turn from it.” Right now we are at the beginning of the Second Coming of Christ, and once again, the Holy Spirit has begun coming down from heaven as it was prophesied, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit . . . And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they will prophesy [speak with the voice of God]” (Acts 2:17-18). In other words, just as it was the first time, at Jesus’ First Coming, God poured out His Spirit upon John the Baptist first, and then later the disciples, and they began to preach as witnesses. Even so, now at the beginning of His Second Coming, which shall be more glorious than the First Coming, God has once again sent witnesses to bear witness of the Light, telling us to lift up the Light — to be a burning and a shining light — just as John was. It is written, that the self-righteous people rejoiced in his [John’s] light for a season (John 5:35). But later they rejected the true Light that John bore record of. “He [the True Light – Jesus] came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name”(John 1:11-12). Likewise, the self-righteous people today, who trust in themselves that they are righteous, will come face to face with the Spirit of God in these witnesses, and either be revealed as children of light or children of darkness. Notice, that they are called “children” and not “adults”! That is, they have not yet matured, and it has not yet been made known what they will grow up to be! But the Spirit of God knows the future and the Word of God “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb.4:12).
At the First Coming of Christ, nobody except John the Baptist and Jesus knew the hypocrisy and the self-righteousness that would be revealed in the religious leaders and their converts! “But when he [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, ‘O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits suitable for repentance!” (Matt.3:7-8). And Jesus likewise rebuked them saying, “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him two-fold more the child of hell than yourselves . . . Even so you also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. . . You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?!” (Matt.23:15-33).

Jesus told them that they were willing to put up with John the Baptist for a little while, but they ultimately refused to do what he said. And later, when Jesus preached to them, they as children of darkness endured Him for a little season trying to discredit Him, and then later their hate grew into conspiring against Him to destroy Him, and then finally when God allowed it, they killed Him! Thus, they as children became adults of darkness as they matured in their wickedness — refusing to repent! It started out as pride, envy, and self-righteousness. Jesus was beginning to take away their numbers, threatening their positions, rebuking them for their hypocrisy! He spoke the truth, not caring about what men thought or who or what men esteemed. He didn’t rise up through their organizations or receive His education from their seminaries! Where was His degree or master of divinity?! Who gave Him a title or ordained Him to preach?! Why doesn’t He hold to the same traditions and sacraments?! Who does He think He is?! And by what authority does He teach these things?! These are the thoughts that went through the religious leaders minds early on, until finally, as Jesus said, “When I was daily with you in the temple, you stretched forth no hands against me, but this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). And they took Him and killed Him!


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