In the gospel according to Matthew, John the Baptist is introduced as follows:
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins” (King James Version, Matthew 3:1-6).
Matthew’s description of John has great significance for the Seventh-day Adventist movement today. We too should be voices in the desert crying “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” Matthew's description of John gives us some clue as to how we, as modern-day John the Baptists, aught to conduct ourselves. I’m going to mention 5 of these descriptions and then draw parallels between John the Baptist and God’s end-time church.
Preaching in the Wilderness
God’s instruction to us has been to move out of the cities, to have our homes in the countryside where we can behold the works of the Creator and not be surrounded by the evil that is in the city. Also, we will be able to prepare for the time of trouble, and grow our own fruits and vegetables, so that when the time comes when we will not be able to buy and sell, at least we will have food to eat.
Again and again the Lord has instructed that our people are to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of enemies (Ellen White, Country Living, 9-10).
Perhaps country living is outside of your means at the moment. However, organizing your life so that you can leave the big city is something that you should consider on a daily basis. We may have to deny ourselves a thousand pleasures, but we will find true joy and a rich spiritual experience living in nature, where God wants us to live.
A Special Message
John’s special message for his time was “Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). The Seventh-day Adventist church also has a special message for its time. We are to be preaching the Three Angels’ Messages. We are to say, with Angel One, “The hour of God’s judgment has come.” We are living in the time of the investigative judgment.
We are to say, with Angel Two, “Babylon is fallen.” Without apology, we are to warn the world of the fallen religious system causing people to disregard the teachings of the Bible and to follow tradition and pagan practices.
We are to say with Angel Three, “Do not worship the beast.” We are to warn the world of the destruction that will come from following the teachings of the fallen religious system, calling them to observance of the true Sabbath and warning of false teachings such as spiritualism, life in death, infant baptism and the like.
John had a special message to preach, and so does the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
A Fulfillment of Prophecy
John knew who he was and where he was prophesied about in the scriptures. God rose up the Seventh-day Adventist Church as well in response to prophecy. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17).
Then there is the prophecy of the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3—the church of the time of the judgment. That is who we are, the church living in the time of the judgment. Just like John, the Seventh-day Adventist church is a fulfillment of prophecy.
Special Dress and Diet
John was clothed a certain way, and he ate a certain way. God has given us a dress code. He has told us to cloth ourselves with clothes that are healthy and modest. However, it is unfortunate to notice all the colorful cosmetics and jewelry used by God’s people today—the rings, the earrings, the necklaces, the extravagant clothing, the hairstyles, and all the strange clothing that makes us look more and more like the world.
Peter says, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
John ate locusts and wild honey. God has given use a special diet for our time as well. “Again and again I have been shown that God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design—that man should subsist upon the natural products of the earth. Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet. "Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs” (Ellen White, Counsels and Diet and Foods, 380).
John had a dress code and a special diet, and so do Seventh-day Adventists.
A Preacher of Note
Everyone went to hear John preach. It is interesting that despite John’s peculiarities—his dress, his diet, the place where he lived—people flocked to him, to hear him preach, and to be baptized.
Often we are concerned about what people will think of us when we practice the reforms that God has given to us. We feel that we will not be able to reach them, or that the spreading of our message for this time will not be as effective because of where we live, what we eat and how we dress. We worry that we preach hard truths about the Mark of the Beast, The Sabbath, the State of the Dead and so on.
John lived in an inconvenient location, he ate strange food, he dressed oddly, he preached an unpopular message, but he prepared the way of the Lord. The people flocked to him and were baptized and confessed their sins.
We have no excuse for not obeying God’s instructions to his end-time church. Let us not think that the requirements that God has placed on us put us at a disadvantage. Rather, let us embrace them and appreciate them as blessings from God to keep us shielded from the evil that is in our world today. May we be faithful voices in the desert. May Christ come in our generation.