Ellen White has told us that we should study the lives of John the Baptist and Enoch—prototypes of those living in the last days: “The experience of Enoch and of John the Baptist represents what ours should be. Far more than we do, we need to study the lives of these men,—he who was translated to heaven without seeing death; and he who, before Christ’s first advent, was called to prepare the way of the Lord, to make His paths straight.” Gospel Workers, 51.
The Old Testament ends with Malachi 4:5, 6: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
The great and dreadful day of the Lord is Jesus’ Second Coming. Elijah the prophet will be sent before that event to give an Elijah message. Before Jesus’ first coming, a man came who was also called Elijah. That was not his name, but that is what Jesus called him. Why did He call this man Elijah? The answer is given in Luke 1:15–17.
He would be filled with the Holy Spirit from conception; even before he could reason or think. That was because his parents were filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:6 says, “They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” He was a vessel whom God filled. This filling of the Holy Spirit is promised to all, including children. (See Acts 2:38, 39.)
John the Baptist had a great work to do; therefore Gabriel was sent to give explicit instruction to his parents as to how he was to be raised. How wonderful it would be, parents, to have Gabriel tell you how to raise your children! He gave detailed instruction on diet as well as other things. A synopsis of his instruction is found in Luke 1:13–20.
Of this instruction, Ellen White wrote: “John the Baptist was a reformer. To him was committed a great work for the people of his time. And in preparation for that work, all his habits were carefully regulated, even from his birth. The angel Gabriel was sent from heaven to instruct the parents of John in the principles of health reform.” Temperance, 90, 91.
In all the stories about John the Baptist that are recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, any mention about John and his life specifically state that he had a special diet. He ate locusts and wild honey.
The locusts referred to a locust bean, not a bug. John the Baptist was a vegetarian! (See Testimonies, vol. 3, 62.) That is why the Bible is so specific about what he ate. He is a type of those who will be living before Jesus’ Second Coming.
Health reform is certainly a part of getting ready for Jesus’ Second Coming. We need to clean and purify our bodies and our lives.
“He [John the Baptist] was a representative of those living in the last days, to whom God has entrusted sacred truths to present before the people, to prepare the way for the second appearing of Christ. And the same principles of temperance which John practiced should be observed by those who in our day are to warn the world of the coming of the Son of man.” Temperance, 91.
“Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Christ’s first advent. The great subject of reform is to be agitated, and the public mind is to be stirred. Temperance in all things is to be connected with the message, to turn the people of God from their idolatry, their gluttony, and their extravagance in dress and other things.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 62.
Revelation 12:17 tells us that God will communicate with us in the last days. The last church will have the same thing that John the Baptist had. It will have the testimony of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist’s father was a prophet. He received messages from God through the angel. In the last days, God gives messages through a prophet. That is what the testimony of Jesus Christ is.
We have the same work to do that John was given, and with this great responsibility lies a promise. Like John the Baptist’s parents, we have counsel from God, telling us how to raise our children and how we should live, helping us with our diet and our education, telling us where we should live and how to work. God has provided all this through His messenger in her writings such as Counsels on Diet and Foods; Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students; and Testimonies for the Church.
John the Baptist is a type, a representative of those living in the last days. The instruction for him was given to someone else who passed it on to him. It came through Gabriel speaking to his father before he was ever born or even conceived. He had to trust in his father’s revelation.
And, so, God has also given us a revelation. True, it has come through a channel, not to us directly, but God has communicated to us in the same way. Oh, how we should value and trust these revelations and appreciate them! The gift of prophecy is one of the signs of the remnant church. This church is entrusted with the Elijah message, the Elijah mission. How fortunate we are! It is only as we make use of the information that God has given to us, as our lives are filled with the Holy Spirit, that we can be representatives of Christ, as was John the Baptist, and be ready for Jesus’ Second Coming.
Heed the Instruction
John would never have accomplished his mission, even though the Lord had spoken to him, unless he heeded the message. He did heed the instruction, and the Lord blessed. (See Luke 1:80.) Will we as a church succeed unless we fulfill the messages that have been given to us through the gift of prophecy?
John the Baptist went to the desert for his education. He did not go to the schools of the Rabbis. He did not gain his instruction from the theological thoughts of the day. He went into the wilderness, and there he prayed, studied the Scriptures, and became taught of God.
“God did not send him to the teachers of theology to learn how to interpret the Scriptures. He called him to the desert, that he might learn of nature and nature’s God.” The Desire of Ages, 101.
In the last days, God is going to mightily use humble people filled with His Spirit. They will be instructed by God through their study of the Bible, as they study the instructions that He has given to add light to the Bible through the Spirit of Prophecy, and through prayer. They will be messengers like John the Baptist. “God can raise up men and fit them to carry this message in the power and the Spirit. Although they are lowly, yet in humble obedience they will learn of God and receive counsel of him.” Review and Herald, August 1862.
It is dangerous to put more and more emphasis on secular education for the finishing of God’s work versus experience and knowledge of the Bible. We need to remember that Jesus was not educated in the schools of the day, and neither was John the Baptist. God can teach people today just as He taught them then.
Separated From Evil Influences
“It was John’s choice to forego the enjoyments and luxuries of city life for the stern discipline of the wilderness. Here his surroundings were favorable to habits of simplicity and self-denial. Uninterrupted by the clamor of the world, he could here study the lessons of nature, of revelation, and of providence. … To him the solitude of the desert was a welcome escape from society in which suspicion, unbelief, and impurity had become well-nigh all-pervading. He distrusted his own power to withstand temptation, and shrank from constant contact with sin, lest he should lose the sense of its exceeding sinfulness.
“But the life of John was not spent in idleness, in ascetic gloom, or in selfish isolation. From time to time he went forth to mingle with men; and he was ever an interested observer of what was passing in the world. From his quiet retreat he watched the unfolding of events. With vision illuminated by the divine Spirit, he studied the characters of men, that he might understand how to reach their hearts with the message of heaven.” Review and Herald, December 17, 1903.
John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his very birth. He was a health reformer; he was instructed by the Holy Spirit, but even he who had been raised by God-fearing parents, who themselves were filled by the Holy Spirit, was scared of constant contact with evil. He was afraid he would lose a sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin.
Do you suppose if John the Baptist was scared of that, that we might be a little afraid of that too? Do you suppose that John the Baptist would have spent time and allowed himself to be influenced by daily watching television or listening to what comes over the radio? Or would he have been scared of what it might have done to him?
Speaking of John the Baptist, Ellen White wrote: “If there was anyone who could remain unaffected by the corrupting influences of the age in which he lived, it was surely he. Yet he did not venture to trust his strength; he separated himself from his friends and relatives, that his natural affections might not prove a snare to him. He would not place himself unnecessarily in the way of temptation nor where the luxuries or even the conveniences of life would lead him to indulge in ease or to gratify his appetite, and thus lessen his physical and mental strength. …
“The forerunner of Christ, did not expose himself to evil conversation and the corrupting influences of the world. He feared the effect upon his conscience, that sin might not appear to him so exceedingly sinful. He chose rather to have his home in the wilderness, where his senses would not be perverted by his surroundings.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 108, 109.
When we are searching for a place to live, it would serve us well to think about the influences that surround our potential homes. John’s example gives ample reasons for us to find homes in the country.
We should not flatter ourselves that we are too strong for any influences to affect us, but we should, in humility, guard ourselves from temptation. Even if we move to the country, if we continue to listen to the radio or watch television, we are subjecting ourselves to evil influences and to temptations.
From John 3:26–30, we read: “And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!’ John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but, “I have been sent before Him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I [must] decrease.’ ”
What a magnanimous attitude! Most of us do not mind starting out small as long as we can climb and climb and climb. But we are not always as humble as was John the Baptist.
“Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-abnegation. He sought not to attract men to himself, but to lift their thoughts higher and still higher, until they should rest upon the Lamb of God. He himself had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, that the eyes of all might be turned to the Light of life.
“Those who are true to their calling as messengers for God will not seek honor for themselves. Love for self will be swallowed up in love for Christ. …
“We can receive of heaven’s light only as we are willing to be emptied of self. … To all who do this, the Holy Spirit is given without measure.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 333, 334.
The one requirement of being filled with the Holy Spirit is to be emptied of self. The Holy Spirit will come in only as we are humbled, as we are emptied of self. Only then will He come in and fill the void.
When Jesus comes again, He is going to have a people like John the Baptist—people who are health reformers, who are instructed by the Holy Spirit, who are separated, as far as they can be, from evil influences, and who are humble.
As was written of John the Baptist, may it be said of God’s last-day people: “By day and by night, Christ was his study, his meditation, until mind and heart and soul were filled with the glorious vision.
“He looked upon the King in His beauty, and self was lost sight of. He beheld the majesty of holiness and knew himself to be inefficient and unworthy. It was God’s message that he was to declare. It was in God’s power and His righteousness that he was to stand. He was ready to go forth as Heaven’s messenger, unawed by the human, because he had looked upon the Divine. He could stand fearless in the presence of earthly monarchs because with trembling he had bowed before the King of kings.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 331, 332.
Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington state, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.