A voice cries in the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD make straight in the desert a highway for our God”
I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.
The messenger that fulfilled this prophecy was John the Baptist (Matthew 3:3; 11:10-14; 17:10-13; Mark 1:1-4; Luke 3:3-5 and John 1:6-8; 1:19-23). When John the Baptist appeared on the scene in the Jordan River (John 10:40) there were multitudes that came down from Jerusalem and Judea (Matthew 3:1; 3:5-6 and Mark 1:5) John only anounced and baptised with water preparing the way and telling the Jews about Jesus (John 10:41-42). Since we have seen that water baptism was part of the Mosaic law this act was not unusual for them. If Jews had not seen water baptism before they would have been skeptical about John’s baptism and in fact some of them were, not about the water baptism itself but about the purification rules (John 3:25-26). John was water baptizing among a Jewish community that was coming out because they knew about a Messiah. It wasn’t the Greeks or the Romans, nor any other gentile nation, because no other nation had been promised a messiah, Israel was the chosen nation that waited for the messiah.
But one would wonder if the Jews had known about water baptism then why did they need John to just repeat something that they were use to? John’s water baptism was special, he was preparing the way for the messiah, it was like no other water baptism seen before. He was preparing the hearts of the Jews to be ready to welcome the long awaited messiah. John the Baptist baptism was radical in the sense that he was calling Jews to become Jews because they took that decision in their hearts not to just be Jews because they were born into a culture with a religion, (as we Friends should make the distinction between a convinced Friend and a birthright Friend). Remember the comparison of Jerusalem being a wife (Ezequiel 16), well John’s baptism was to prepare the bride (Jews) for the groom (Jesus). Just like a Jewish bride goes through the baptism before her wedding day and this water immersion (tevilah) is special and like no other, John’s baptism was the same in the sense that it was unique. This was a call to preparation for the new covenant. God wanted His people to repent to comeback to Him (teshuvah) to start a new life with Him. This baptism was for a change of heart, the honest Jew baptizing recognized that it was a symbol of them turning their heart to God and away from wickedness, for that reason we see John condemning the Pharisees and Sadducees for coming to him without repenting (Matthew 3:7-9; 21:32; Luke 3:7-8; 7:30). Unfortunately many did not prepare for the coming of the messiah and they did not recognized him when He came to them (John 5:43; Acts 13:46-47) Later on we see that Jesus was discussing with Pharisees that knew the law well but they had forgotten the most important part of the law, which was the love of God (Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42).
The water baptism for repentance was preached in Israel (Acts 13:24) because John’s water baptism was for the Jews to prepare for the New Covenant, not for the gentiles we have been given The Holy Spirit Baptism (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8;Luke 3:16; John 1:5; Acts 1:5 and Acts 11:16). We want Jesus baptism!