In contemplating the mission of John the Baptist, a striking parallel came to view that arrested my attention.
Considering what he was to do, and what it meant to the world, it struck me that the event he was foretelling was the greatest event in history, not only of this world but the universe. What was that event? And what was John’s mission? “In him [Jesus], was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” John 1:4–9.
John was no less than the messenger to prepare the way for the Lord. He prepared the way for the Son of the living God. He announced the coming of the Creator of the Universe to live among men. He had the privilege of being the forerunner of the One, the only One, who could and would save men from sin as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. What a privilege! What a responsibility!
Actually, as I thought about it, it seemed that the whole world would be looking forward with intense interest, with longing and inexpressible gratitude for that event. This event made possible a life of eternal happiness and bliss with their Creator! For four thousand years either through the patriarchal sacrificial system or the temple services, the great, compassionate, loving God of the universe had been telling the world of a Redeemer to come who would save it from the pit of ruin into which it had fallen. He had even chosen a special people and bestowed upon them tremendous blessing and care, a people commissioned to tell the world of a coming Saviour. He had given this special people prophecies pointing to the very time of His coming. The God of the universe, the Creator of all in heaven and earth, a Being who was worshiped and adored, with all power, He was coming to this tiny planet. He was coming to “take away the sins of the world.” What other message, what other matter could begin to compare?
Let’s look at this event from another perspective, the perspective of the heavenly universe, from the time before there was sin. Perfection, beauty, perfect harmony reigned. The inhabitants didn’t even realize there was law. They were so perfectly in harmony with the will of God there was nothing but perfect joy, peace, happiness and unity. Then, sin made its entrance. Then, sorrow, pain, and worst of all, they learned about separation from their most beloved Commander, the One they lived to worship, love, and obey. All this was interrupted and destroyed by this little speck of a world. And now the time had come for that separation, for the Father to send His Son to give His life to this world so it could be redeemed.
The entire universe watched with intense interest. To them there was no greater event than the advent of Christ to this one world that had marred God’s entire creation. Would not those for whom this great sacrifice was being made, welcome Him with joy unspeakable? Would not the great and mighty of the earth be the first to welcome and proclaim with joy this greatest of all events in the history of the earth? What a joy John’s life and mission would have been had that been the case. But, sadly, inexplicably, few were even aware.
Just what was the condition of things when the time came for John to begin his ministry? “In the time of John the Baptist, greed for riches, and the love of luxury and display had become widespread. Sensuous pleasures, feasting and drinking, were causing physical disease and degeneracy, benumbing the spiritual perceptions, and lessening the sensibility to sin.” The Desire of Ages, 101.
“He saw his people deceived, self-satisfied, and asleep in their sins. He longed to rouse them to a holier life. The message that God had given him to bear was designed to startle them from their lethargy, and cause them to tremble because of their great wickedness. Before the seed of the gospel could find lodgment, the soil of the heart must be broken up. Before they would seek healing from Jesus, they must be awakened to their danger from the wounds of sin.” Ibid., 103, 104.
Remarkably, this is speaking of the chosen people of God, the very people who were entrusted with the most wonderful message ever given to this world.
Friends, is there a parallel today? Is there an event pending today of immense and eternal import? The answer is a resounding YES!
After six thousand years of sin and misery, pain and alienation, this world is about to be freed, rescued, healed and restored. The one blot in the great, beautiful creation of God is about to be removed, no, remade; remade into what God, in His bounty and love created it to be in the first place. Yet is this tremendous event the one consuming topic of today? Is the world today absorbed in preparing and proclaiming this most wondrous and important truth? Or is it better described by the paragraphs above describing the condition of the world at Jesus’ first advent?
What a message we have to share; what a responsibility. Again I ask, is there a parallel today? Again, the answer is a resounding YES! I am inadequate in my knowledge and speech to share from my own words the message and its importance, so I quote from a book I believe God, in His providence, gave to His people of today just as much as He gave the Scriptures to prepare the world for His first advent. It says, “We are now living in the great day of atonement. …
“Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God. The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the word of truth. The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge of this subject for themselves regarding the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at the end of the days.
“All who have received the light upon these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects and be able to give an answer to everyone that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them.” The Great Controversy, 488, 489.
“The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, ‘whither the forerunner is for us entered.’ Hebrews 6:20. There the light from the cross of Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight into the mysteries of redemption. The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to heaven; the sacrifice made is equal to the broadest demands of the broken law of God. Jesus has opened the way to the Father’s throne, and through His mediation the sincere desire of all who come to Him in faith may be presented before God.” Ibid.
Friends, these are not my words. These are the words of inspiration. Is there any message at this time that can compare with this? Is there any other message that actually brings salvation to a soul? Let’s not repeat the history of the first advent. Let’s study, with humility and sincerity and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and not only be ready for this event, but also to be the instruments God would have us to be in proclaiming this most important and wondrous message to the world.
Brenda Douay is a member of Steps to Life staff. She can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.