In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Elijah’s Second Coming
Elijah came to Israel in the Old Testament as they were in a decline. Ahab and Jezebel had strengthened Israel by worldly terms by making alliances through marriage, by suppressing unrest within the land, and by adopting the religious practices of the nations round about. As Dave Griffin reminded those at The Chapel’s Sunday services yesterday, Elijah was a man like us who had an extraordinary God to whom he bent the knee and said, “Yes.” The Bible recounts Elijah as the hero because he had insight into the signs of the times and he spoke to the king words of judgment despite the king’s apparent political success.
In the passage above, Elijah comes for a second time. The people of Israel believed that before the Messiah (the Christ) could come, Elijah had to come so they questioned whether Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus replied that the person we read about in Luke 3 was Elijah come again. It wasn’t a literal Elijah, although Elijah did not die in the Bible but was taken up to Heaven, so Elijah would not need to be resurrected in order to return. John the Baptist dressed like Elijah, lived like Elijah and spoke uncompromising truth to the common people and to rulers like Herod. He declared that the people had a wrong focus, they were religious but it was a self-focused religion. They needed to live their lives in complete submission to God and show fruit in keeping with that repentance.
When I look at the West now I see that the church is shedding members, it is spiritually immature, and it is not making converts. We need to see another Elijah who is willing to speak truth to world leaders, who is willing to speak truth to those who attend church, and who sees both the patterns in the culture and the pattern of God’s truth. My own focus is that of the children, what are they reading, what are they listening to? We are molding young minds in our public schools, Christian schools, and homeschools, but what fruit have we produced? There have been attempts at bringing Jesus into the heart of schooling, but many of those attempts were legalistic methods at managing and controlling children’s behavior. We have tried to educate parents, but parents are unaware of the extent of the null curriculum and the hidden curriculum in Christian schools. Many people in the church do not see the connection between what school, the media, and our own ignorance is teaching to our children. We need a third coming of Elijah. We need people who are willing to speak about what God has shown them and call the world to repent. My own call is to plead with us all to educate our children in a way that leads them to Jesus and not in a way that silences him.
Like Elijah in Israel and John the Baptist in Judea, we need people who will speak the truth boldly to a world that does not want to listen. My heart is for the coming generations who see you as relevant to less and less of their living because the parents know no better and the children are educated in places where God is silenced. I will speak where I have a platform and I will be silent when I sense that you want me to be silent. I am afraid, but I am alive to the Spirit. I want to see your Spirit move with fresh wind and fire. I want to see Chicagoland, America, and the world set on fire. I want them to know that God is in and through everything. There is no subject and no inch of the world which is not subject to you. May we all say, “Yes!” to you.
- Describe Elijah.
- What was his message?
- How do verses 4-6 demand spiritual growth into righteous living?
- What is the warning about a life that does not bear fruit?
- How does your life bear fruit? Where could it grow?
- Is America more fruitful than it was fifty years ago in the eyes of God? Why do you think the way you do?