“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)
This is the prophecy of John, Cousin of Yeshua, Messiah. John was used of God, as the prophets foretold to prepare the way of the Messiah. (Isa. 40:3) He did so by boldly preaching the truth without political or personal motives. He lived in the wilderness relying on what God provided for him, Camels hair clothing with a leather belt to hold it all together and a diet of locust and wild honey.
Is this how God takes care of His servants? No, John was the Son of Zechariah a priest charged with duties in the Temple, specifically maintaining the alter of incense when John was born. Priests were well positioned in Jewish society and John would have followed in his fathers practice. Instead, he chose the path of the Spirit’s leading and surrender to God’s assignments. John chose intimacy with God and a Prophets calling over creature comforts and the esteem of men. I believe God provided everything John needed and wanted. Consider what he told the Pharisees who came out to him, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”(Matthew 3:8-9) A man of such faith would surely trust God for the basic essentials of life.
John had a passion and pursuit of God that warranted Yeshua’s observation about him, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet….Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”(Matthew 11:7-9, 11) The prophetic gift is the second highest gift of the Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:28; 1 Cor. 14:1) I believe it requires a higher level of humility and strong disregard for the approval of men. Moreover, the prophet must be willing to ignore or endure the abuse, slander, and condescension of men. It is a high responsibility to speak the message of God with integrity and skill. (1 Cor. 14:32) However, what I have described is the prophetic gift for the Church after Yeshua’s ascension. The Old Covenant prophet’s were of an even higher gifting and calling and John was the greatest of them. He was central in God’s revival of Israel, just as Yeshua began His public ministry. It was a revival of holiness symbolized by a baptism of repentance, similar to the ceremonial cleansing of priests, to which Yeshua himself submitted. (Matt. 3:11, 14-15; Lev. 16) Have you received Yeshua’s baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire?