Saturday, July 26, 2014

SERMON: Repent: Kingdom of God is at hand

By DAVID BILDERBACK, Special to The Ottawa Herald | 10/11/2013

John the Baptist’s walk from the desert into the pages of scripture is detailed in the gospel of Mark. God had prepared John for his ministry, breaking the 400 years of silence between the Old Testament and New Testament, in about 28-29 A.D.

John lived in the wilderness. There, he was raised, was called by God, preached and probably died. This wilderness was a vast wasteland of crags, wind and heat and was only inhabited by owls, snakes and scorpions.

John the Baptist’s walk from the desert into the pages of scripture is detailed in the gospel of Mark. God had prepared John for his ministry, breaking the 400 years of silence between the Old Testament and New Testament, in about 28-29 A.D.

John lived in the wilderness. There, he was raised, was called by God, preached and probably died. This wilderness was a vast wasteland of crags, wind and heat and was only inhabited by owls, snakes and scorpions.

John called the people away from the comforts of their own homes and out into the Judean wilderness where they might meet God. John’s ruggedness and commanding righteousness drew large crowds.

His message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Mat. 3:2).

Most of the people who came to hear John had been cast out from the religious element of the day. They were eager to hear a message that provided hope. The setting of the Judean wilderness provided them with a reminder of the time and place God had dwelled with his people after the Exodus.

John baptized the people in an effort of moral reform, and this was his way of preparing the people to meet God. His message to the religious establishment of the day, the Sadducees and Pharisees, was much different. John criticized them for presuming to be righteous and secure with God because they were children of Abraham.

So how does a short biographical sketch of John the Baptist’s life have any relevance to our lives today?

John made a powerful statement to the Sadducees and Pharisees, saying, “The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Mat 3:10).

Just as the coming of the kingdom of God is imminent, so is the judgment. The coming of one implies the other. John’s warning applies today to us. If we do not find our security in Jesus Christ as our Savior, then we must attempt to find something with which to replace him. It is this very thing John warned against.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2nd Peter 3:9).

John’s message is relevant and should create pause for thought.

 

David Bilderback is a Greeley resident.

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