John the Baptist must have seemed like a lunatic, a maniac to those who first witnessed him. I realize that the standard attire of the day was not a three piece suit, but John was a little ‘wild’ even for the day. “John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.” (Matt 3:4) He was certainly not dressed to impress. He obviously had not read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’
So then we flash forward to today and we see people in the street or perhaps the show up at a concert or even our church… and they proclaim they are some sort of prophet or messenger from God. If we look back and expect that the people should have recognized John the Baptist for who he was, why do we always jump to conclusion that such people today must by default be maniacs? If God used messengers before, can He not use them again? If someone shows up claiming the end is here and God’s wrath is upon us, what makes us so sure this person is not a messenger?
In truth, very few people ever claiming to be a messenger, have turned out to be the real thing. In a sense, even the Apostle Paul would have been in this category sort of. Here is a man that persecuted the new Christians and now he is claiming to have personally seen Jesus (after the resurrection of course) and is now a messenger for Him. As we read in Acts, it took some considerable convincing.
But what separates people like Paul and John the Baptist from all the ‘messengers’ who appear in modern times? After all, don’t we believe He will come again? Don’t many even say ‘the end is near’? How then can we discern?
Of course, they come in many types, styles and techniques. But one thing is consistent with these false messengers that is different from all the prophets of the Old Testament and from John the Baptist and even Paul. These true messengers always brought about a message of truth from God. Many times a message of hope, love and peace. But even when it was a message of condemnation and warning, it was never the messenger that would bring about the judgement sword. He was simply warning people. Like Jonah warning Nineveh, he was there to deliver a message, not judgement itself.
True messengers like John the Baptist will never claim to be any part of the Trinity itself and they will never claim to be the one bringing the judgement, simply a warning. “He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”” (John 1:20) ““I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.””
False prophets however will claim either to be part of the Trinity, ‘I’m the prince’ for example, or believe they are the one to initiate the judgement. Many mass shootings, many serial killers and every act of terrorism… they claim to be delivering the judgement of their God. That is simply not biblical.
It is true that the end is near. But relative to eternity, that could be minutes or it could be a millennia. We need to heed the warning and trust in Jesus. We need to love Him with everything and love our neighbors. His true message is of love, hope and peace because only through Him can we find forgiveness of our sins.
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