Those Who Followed God’s Prophetic Roadmap

During the 400 years between Malachi and the first Gospel, Matthew, Antiochus IV from Syria, who was a committed Hellenist,1 enters the land to find division over the priesthood among the Jews. He commits the ultimate sacrilege when he came back to Jerusalem, after failed war efforts in Egypt, in a rage to stomp out the temple worship and the Jewish religion. He made it unlawful to practice Jewish temple customs and place a statue of Zeus in the Jewish temple and offered a pig on the sacred alter.2 Mattathias, refusing to compromise when offered money to lead the people into pagan sacrifices by the officer, killed him and ignited a revolt. He gave a charge to those who were “zealous for the law and support the covenant” to come out and join him in this fight against paganism.3 He shortly died thereafter, but through his son Judas’ military efforts, known as the Maccabean Revolt, paganism was defeated and the true temple worship was restored in 164 B.C. The flames of this revolt burned brightly for awhile and then fizzled. It would appear that the fire had all but gone out, but there were those who still received divine guidance in a period of so called “prophetic silence.” Let’s examine a few very special people, at the time of Christ’s birth, which clung to the written word, followed God’s prophetic roadmap, and stayed on course.

John the Baptist was actually the silence breaker prophesied by Malachi, but before we look at his example of hearing from God, we must take a quick glimpse at his parents. In Luke’s Gospel, the first chapter, we read of a priest by the name of Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth, who were both “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”4 Zacharias, before his divine appointment, went before God “in the order of his course” and he went according to the “custom of the priest’s office.”5 This priest was in the right place, at the right time, doing what God had told him to do. In studying divine visitations in the Bible, we find they occur to people like Zacharias who are found in the right place and doing the last instruction that God gave them. During his visit from the heavenly angel, he was told that his son was to be name John. Zacharias, having a problem with believing the message that day, came from inside the temple unable to speak. Later, at John’s circumcision, Elizabeth confirms the child was to be named John and not Zacharias.6 This couple, John’s parents, were certainly people how heard from God and stayed on course.As we see, there can be no doubt as to the hand of God on John’s life because of the numerous confirmations at his birth. Also, there are two prophetic confirmations given at his birth that I wish to point out: “he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children”7 and “or thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways.”8 As we have already examined, these were given from God’s messenger, Malachi, in the last word before the prophetic silence. John no doubt heard from God before he launched out in his prophetic ministry, for he was looking for someone special to appear. When he saw Jesus, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,”9 He announces that he had had a previous conversation with the One that sent him to baptize with water, and the distinguishing sign to indentify this special person was that the Spirit would descend upon him and remain: this would be the one that would baptize with the Holy Ghost.10

We can use John the Baptist’s message as an indicator of how far people had strayed by the time he came on the scene as God’s messenger and broke the prophetic silence. By examining his message, we get a clear indication of how far the people had deviated from God’s Word during the time of Christ’s arrival.  

John called upon Israel to repent in view of the soon coming judgment of God when his wrath would be poured out upon a disobedient nation. He calls for a radical turning to God, a returning to God from their rebellion back to true covenant obedience. This is a burden of his preaching: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 3:2). And his call was urgent, for “the axe is already at the root of the trees (3:10).11

John’s message of repentance was part of the preparation prophesied of by the prophets Isaiah and Malachi. Baptism was an outward evidence of one having received John’s message. John not only challenged the people to repent and be baptized, he sought for “fruits meet for repentance”12 or evidences thereof. Some evidences of repentance were generosity, honesty, and kind treatment.13

There are two less spoken of servants of God, Simeon and Anna, who prove so well that God indeed spoke during this period of prophetic silence, and they being led by God, were in the right place at the right time. Simeon, was a perfect example of one that held on to the written word, worshiped God, and followed God’s prophetic roadmap. Luke’s Gospel records that Simeon was “just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.”14 We also find that he too has special instruction by God that “he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.”15 First of all, he was in the temple, where every good Jew would have brought the firstborn male according to the law to be presented unto the Lord, waiting on the Messiah. This tells us that he knew the law, and followed it. We also see that not only did he hold to God’s written word and worship God in the temple;16 he knew God’s prophetic roadmap and followed it to the right place at the right time. He was so on time and according to God’s plan that he was ready to “depart in peace”17 after he saw God’s salvation that day.18 His work was finished; his life’s mission was accomplished.

Now, Anna, a prophetess, also was there that day, for it was said that she lived in the temple and gave herself to prayer and fasting. We also read in Luke’s Gospel of her timeliness and guidance from the Holy Spirit. The scripture says, “She coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord.”19 She came in at that instant, the instant that Jesus was brought to the temple to be presented to the Lord. She no doubt knew and obeyed the written word of God, she served God in the temple by praying and fasting, and she followed God’s prophetic roadmap. Not only did she follow God’s map, she, apparently from this scripture, had an audience and began to proclaim to others who were looking for the “redemption in Jerusalem.”20

God always is speaking to those who will listen, and when there is no new word, it means God is waiting for you to digest the last one He gave you and act upon it, for it is that last word that will prepare you for the coming trials of the enemy, and it is that word that will prepare you for His next move. Let’s follow the example of those, at the time of Christ’s birth, who followed God’s prophetic roadmap, arrived at the right place at the right time, and were able to be apart of God’s next move.

[1] Lea, Thomas D. and Black, David A. The New Testament: It’s Background and Message. (Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 16.

[2] Ibid, 17.

[3] Scott Jr., J. Julius. Jewish Backgrouds of the New Testament. (Michigan: Baker Academic), 83.

[4] Luke 1:6 KJV

[5] Luke 1:8, 9 KJV

[6] Luke 1:60 KJV

[7] Luke 1:17 KJV

[8] Luke 1:70 KJV

[9] John 1:29 KJV

[10] John 1:33 KJV

[11] Kingdom, David. “John the Baptist; the silence that breaks the silence.” Founders Journal 199 (Fall 2002): 24.

[12] Matt. 3:8 KJV

[13] Lea, Thomas D., 179-180.

[14] Luke 2:25 KJV

[15] Luke 2:26 KJV

[16] Luke 2:28 KJV

[17] Luke 2:29 KJV

[18] Luke 2:30 KJV

[19] Luke 2:38 KJV

[20] Luke 2:38 KJV