8. John the Prophet

Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 8  (Matthew 3:1-6)

Our picture of prophets is a little skewed.  Most of us think of prophets more as oracles or fortune-tellers.  The Bible is filled with prophets who boldly proclaim God’s Word to in a timely way to people who need to hear it.  Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah are all great prophets from ancient days who did just that.  Now in our journey we meet another prophet who prepares the way for those who will journey with Jesus.

While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills, John, called “the Baptizer,” was preaching in the desert country of Judea.  His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”

John and his message were authorized by Isaiah’s prophecy:

Thunder in the desert!
  Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!

John dressed in a camel-hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap.  He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey.  People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action.  There at the Jordan River those who came to confess their sins were baptized into a changed life. (Matthew 3:1-6, MSG)

We have heard about prophetic fulfillment and we have already seen several pretend kings.  Now we hear from a real life prophet. (more…)

Continue Reading8. John the Prophet

7. Back to the Land of Israel

Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 7 (Matthew 2:19-23)

Today’s journey takes us from Egypt northeast past Judea into Galilee, a distance of about 300 miles (500 kilometers).

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.  “Get up!” the angel said.  “Take the child and his mother and go back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are themselves dead.”

So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with the child and his mother.  But when he learned that Archelaus was the new king of Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.  After being warned in a dream, he left Egypt for the region of Galilee, and the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth.  This fulfilled what the prophets had said:  “He will be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:19-23)

Egypt had a thriving Jewish community in Jesus’ day.  It would not have been difficult for Joseph and his family to find work and live there.  But like Moses many centuries before, Jesus is not (more…)

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6.  Escape to Egypt

Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 6  (Matthew 2:13-18)

When [the Magi] had gone, suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.  “Get up and take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.  Stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and departed for Egypt.  He stayed there until the death of Herod, and this fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the Magi, he was enraged and gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and the villages around it who were two years old and under, in line with the time he had learned from the Magi.  Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”  (Matthew 2:13-18)

When traveling how do you stay on track?  How do you avoid danger?  Prayer and communication with God is the best way I know to do both.  (more…)

Continue Reading6.  Escape to Egypt