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TENDER MERCY AND THE PROPHETIC WORD: FROM MALACHI TO JOHN THE IMMERSER

The ancient prophecy of Malachi said the next prophet to come would be a forerunner to prepare hearts and would announce the Messiah through the prophetic Word.

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The Messiah is always announced through the prophetic Word. That is why there is no Messiah wherever there is no prophetic Word.

JOHN

John the Baptist—I prefer to call him John the Immerser because this title is both accurate and illustrative in the original Hebrew—was a mere man. Yet he was a man with a powerful spiritual anointing. His anointing was so powerful that it was aligned with the anointing of the ancient prophet Elijah. This is what the prophecy in Malachi actually entailed. It did not refer to a mere man or to a return of Elijah but to a particular powerful prophetic anointing which would show up in the Last Days.

MALACHI

He was the last prophet of Israel before the prophetic Word ceased. For roughly four and a half centuries until John there was no prophet in Israel. Imagine that. For perspective, if we traveled back through time from now for 450 years we would arrive at the year 1572. This was way before anything America. It predates Plymouth (1620) and Jamestown (1607). It even predates the Lost Colony of Roanoke (1585-87). Hence, Israel was prophetless for an incredibly long time.

Malachi’s ministry occurred in the late fifth century BC and ended at some point prior to 400BC when he spoke his last and passed from the scene. His voice was stilled. Having no successor, the prophetic Word went silent. One may wonder how or why this happened but it likely had something to do with an age-old fight between two elements meant to work together but were often effectively at each other’s throats. This ancient battle between priest and prophet continues to play out in our day but’s that’s another story for another time. Suffice it to say that the priests won their battle against the prophets when Malachi breathed his last.

We get an indication of the timing by taking a closer look at Daniel’s prophecy of weeks. He speaks of a distinct division in time that occurred after forty-nine years (seven weeks) which coincided with the completion of the rebuilding of Jerusalem in approximately 407BC. One can easily read into this as a time when the priests had taken full control of the city of Jerusalem and the second temple. They had everything going their way though they achieved it in part (likely a major part) through guile, mammon, and self-serving determination. Now they no longer had to worry about that confounding variable of God speaking to His people and stirring them up against their dead religious order. They had finally eliminated their great nemesis the prophet who was ever exposing their corruption. Does this sound familiar?

The anti-prophet effort had been brewing especially during the time when what was left of the nation of Israel was in Babylonian Captivity almost two centuries before. The nation had been banished there due to its great sin and faithlessness. A defiant faction of the priestly element never did repent but grew further from God and more rebellious. They also picked up some bad demonic stuff while in Babylon and incorporated it into their teachings. When they finally returned to the land after their 70 year penalty phase it was only a matter of time before their evil hearts would overtake the dutiful priests honorably adhering to the Law of Moses and the pure honesty of the prophets and rid the land of not only the prophetic Word but the edifying and preserving influence of God Himself.

Thus, the words of Malachi have special import. Imagine a friend or relative at the end of life speaking his or her final words. This person would never be heard from again. One would therefore want to spend time with the passing one whose speech would soon cease forever. Whether Malachi knew this or not we may not ever know but I think he did. He was a prophet after all. Unlike the priests who performed routine quotidian tasks and ceremonial duties, prophets had to stay close to God at all times or would not be able to fulfill their callings. They could never fake it. Their lives were not composed of man’s order but the comparative wildness of spiritual warfare as reflected in nature when one may not know what may come next—crashing oceans, great thunderstorms, raging blizzards and the like—but had better be equipped and able to deal with it. They were given a most difficult task to achieve that demanded the crucifixion of flesh. They were often greatly humbled. It sometimes appeared that God had little concern for their welfare or physical comfort. They were driven to be the best and to achieve their calling against great odds. These were tough men. Very strong. God demanded of them a high level of spiritual discipline and the outworking thereof because the people needed to hear from Him for their direction and salvation and this could only happen through the prophetic Word delivered through humanity.

Obviously very few men qualified to be prophets, not necessarily because God was partial or particularly choosy but because He had a hard time finding those who would willingly submit to the rigors of the calling. I cannot imagine how hard this process must have been for the Lord but I get a pretty good clue whenever I think about the working out of my own walk and its hopeful effectiveness and how the Lord must be forever patient but also demand commandment-keeping, curriculum-learning, calling-achievement, and having something great to show in our lives for what He did for us on the cross. He built a great foundation which gave each real Christian a tremendous head start. I would think He expects us to strive to be the best we can be. This is how it was for the OT prophets, though to the nth degree.

The book of Malachi has been described as “a beautiful expression of God’s love for a nation that continues to disobey Him,”[1] and in one sentence: “The Great King will come not only to judge his people, but also to bless and restore them.”[2] It is composed of four chapters. The verses we are concerned with in this paper come from Chapter 4 and describe that distant time four and a half centuries from Malachi’s era into the future when the great closing prophetic events occur in the final generation of Israel in the first century AD. Here is Chapter 4, the last verses of the Old Testament, in full:

Final Admonition

1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.

2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.

3 “You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts.

4 “Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.

5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.

6 “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” [Malachi 4:1-6][3]

Those who are aware of the final conflagration of the nation of Israel will see in this passage the absolute accuracy of the prophetic Word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Malachi. This man was given a pure vision of the future by God and he captured it in written form. As I wrote earlier, the vision within this short passage directly refers to the final generation of Israel and the “Last Days” spoken of in the New Testament writings. They were the days of the next prophet after Malachi, a man named John, who the Lord Jesus referred to as the greatest man born of a woman. And of course, right after John arose the greatest Prophet, a Man excepted from the former description since He is truly the greatest, who was the long waited Messiah as referred to by Malachi in verse 5, “the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.” This day was great primarily because He would arrive and save all believers from their sin and grant them eternal life. But the day was terrible in that:

V1: It would burn like a furnace and all the arrogant and every evildoer would be chaff; the day that is coming will set them ablaze and leave them neither root nor branch.

V3: The wicked would be tread down and be ashes under the feet of the righteous on the day “which I am preparing.”

In the last verse the Lord speaks of one final chance for the nation. If not heeded He would “come and smite the land with a curse.” Of course we know it was not heeded. The prophet John was rejected. The Messiah was rejected. The prophetic Word was rejected. Every warning ever spoken was rejected.

The nation crashed and burned, as did the great city of Jerusalem, the city of David. And the brand new sparkling gold-laden and gold-filled third temple was also burned to the ground and every last trace of it vanished.

For the righteous believers who welcomed John and welcomed the Messiah and respected the prophetic Word we have:

V2: “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.”

We see this prophetic truth mentioned once again as reflected in the next passage from the Gospel of Luke when John’s father Zechariah spoke the following prophecy at baby John’s circumcision ceremony:

“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and redeemed His people. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of His servant David, just as He promised through His holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering His sacred covenant—the covenant He swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham. We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.

“And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell His people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” [Luke 1:68-79 NLT]   

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] city.org.nz/kit/bible-overview

[2] biblestudytools.com/books-of-the-bible/

[3] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

THE EMPIRE OF DARKNESS STRIKES BACK

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The Lord Jesus came to His people during a time of profound national darkness. There had been no prophetic word for over four centuries and the resultant void was filled by religious pretenders.

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BIG BAD JOHN

John the Immerser was an absolute phenomenon, a sensation. No one had carried such an anointing since the times of Elisha, the man who took the mantle from Elijah. One will notice, however, that though Elisha was given a double portion of Elijah’s powerful spiritual anointing, it was still Elijah’s spirit. These two men lived in the ninth century BC, and it was approximately a full 900 years from the beginning of Elijah’s ministry to that of John’s.

Malachi, the final Hebrew prophet before John, ceased his ministry in the late fifth century BC. This is what he wrote at the end of his book concerning John the Immerser:

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” [Malachi 4:5-6]

Those wise with understanding would have known that this personage who was to come would not be the actual man Elijah. The man himself mattered little in that he was but a vessel. It was the Spirit of God that rested upon Elijah. The great prophet is certainly to be commended for his magnificent discipleship, obedience, and determination, but he would be the first to tell you that the mantle (garment) upon him was the mantle of God.

GOD’S MANTLE IN ACTION

I watched a preacher recently on video. I had never heard him preach before but his name was vaguely familiar. He was a veteran preacher, having already spent many years as a willing vessel. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. One night in prayer, the Lord suddenly spoke to him and said He was going to heal everybody in the church the next night. One obviously does not often hear that. The man believed it right off and began looking forward to the next night’s service with much expectancy.

The next day he started telling some members of his congregation what to expect. It would be a great night!  By the time the meeting began, however, all was dead. There was a heaviness. It felt empty. The man started wondering why but being a mature minister and knowing what he had heard the night before, he understood that darkness was fighting back. They all began to pray and worship. They fought through it. Later, when the time came for the healing service to begin, he had people line up in the main aisle. The first two in line were women who had been battling relatively severe health issues. The preacher thought, “Oh Lord, why couldn’t You have started this out with something easier?” But he got his little vial of anointing oil and began walking toward the steps of the platform to go down and begin praying for people.

However, something strange happened before he ever got there. He felt something on his back. He thought a fellow minister on the platform behind him had placed something upon him that felt like a coat. He wasn’t amused. He turned around but there was nobody there close enough. He felt his back and there was nothing there, at least nothing he could see. But he felt a tangible presence of something that could only be explained as the mantle of God.

While still on the platform he turned to the front to begin going down to pray for the people but before he got there (again), he saw that the first woman in line was already feeling the very powerful presence of the Lord! She had her hands up, her eyes closed, and was praying and worshipping. She suddenly began reacting to God’s presence all the more and before the preacher ever got to her or anointed her with oil she was instantly healed of her disease! Then the same thing happened to the next woman in line. And the next. Before the night was over everyone there who needed healing was supernaturally healed by the Spirit of God.

The Lord did exactly as He told the preacher He would do the night before. Darkness had tried to intervene but the people had stayed faithful. Darkness failed.

OUR FAITHFULNESS TO GOD

I’ve been around a while. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve experienced a lot. I could write a book on the personal miracles I’ve experienced in my life. It often starts with an internal spiritual desire, what some describe as a “burning.” It is something relating directly to the will of God. When a person catches ahold of that, and prays about it, and seeks the Lord about it, and is faithful to it, the desire grows. It is the Lord confirming that one is on the right track.

But then the enemy enters the picture and tries to mess it up. Spiritual warfare breaks out. There is a strong attempt to bring discouragement and a lack of energy. One has to fight through it. It takes time. Again, I could tell you stories. Determined as I was, and in great need of the miracle, there was no turning back. When you have a big fish on the line you may have to play him for a while. The time comes when you at last break through, defeat the enemy, and the very thing you prayed about, that which looked impossible in the beginning, actually comes to pass. This is what a spiritual fight and faithfulness can do. My life was changed for the better on several occasions through miraculous means. If I had not stayed faithful and determined to fight alongside the Lord the great victories would never have happened.

THIS PRESENT DARKNESS

America is blowing up. Great evil has emerged. It is not unlike what happened in the first century AD. After 400 plus years of no prophetic word the nation of Israel continued to decline from within. Its spiritual weakness made it prone to attack from without and such attacks were often cakewalks for the enemy. What happened to the prophets? Why did the Lord stop sending prophets? I can answer that by asking the same question regarding America. We used to have a majority of solid Christian people and solid Christian leaders in this country. They knew the Word. Why? Because it was being taught seven days a week in some way or another. As time went on, however, the Christian strength of America continued a steady decline. Why? Because the solid Christians and Christian leaders began dying off and fading out, the latter largely through spiritual compromise. Then preachers began acting exactly like politicians in that their funding sources had to be protected at all costs. They began serving money rather than serving God. The Christians under these ministers never put up much of a fight and let them get away with it.

The enemy invaded the void. In ancient Israel’s time, the enemy that invaded the spiritual void included the religious leaders who eventually grew so demonic they sold out their country. They chose the rabid Zealots over the Lord Jesus and His followers.

These people you see in the streets today are much like the Zealots of old who were willing to destroy their own country in their effort to defeat Rome. Rome was never defeated by them but Israel ceased to exist forever. After they murdered the Lord things continued getting worse year by year until the final conflagration in AD 70. It was the result of rejecting love and peace and choosing instead ever greater amounts of hatred, bitterness, and anger until they were consumed by evil.    

But the early Christians thrived. It was a spiritual war and the early believers won. The kingdom of the Lord Jesus continued to expand all across the world. At present there are a great many strong Spirit-filled Christians in America winning a spiritual war and the devil is striking back in any which way he can. He has many deceived people doing his work who care nothing for the Lord. This fight will grow much worse over the next few months.

Darkness is reacting to Light. It is reacting violently. Darkness is fighting for survival.

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” [John 3:19-21][1]

© 2020 by R.J. Dawson. All Rights Reserved. 


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The Spirit and Power of John and Elijah

         People desire that which is real. We’ve been faking our Christianity for a very long time in this country, and it has taken a severe toll. Congregants pine away on pews, though with a stiff upper lip and feigned smile. Most know their hearts are not being touched nor their souls fulfilled but carry on as if their duty is to expect far less than what the Lord promised.

         I came that they may have life…

         After so many years of going through mere motions and never seeing their heart’s desire, Christians get old and weary in their soul. It’s as if a promise was made in the distant past that never came true and never will, but many still long for it anyway, defeated within but ever-dutiful without.

         Do we ever expect another Pentecost? A Great Awakening? A powerful revival that rocks the core of society and thousands upon thousands come to the Lord? Why did such things happen in the past but not now? What did those guys do that was all that different? What are we not doing?

         Well, let’s see. They obeyed. They wanted the will of God more than anything else. They had an incredible burden for souls. They travailed and interceded like there was no tomorrow. They were dead serious. They would not be denied.

         They hit the devil right between the eyes.

         “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.” [Matthew 11:7-9]

         John the Immerser set the spiritual tone for the Lord’s ministry. He turned Israel on its ear. Even the hoity-toity evil-hearted religionists were coming out to get baptized. They were scared on the inside but remained jerks on the outside. They knew full well that John’s ministry was of God. Yet John refused to have anything to do with them. He never went to their synagogues. He never hung out in their cities. He would remain in the wilderness and not be affected by all their hypocritical garbage. His job was to prepare the way and it was the most difficult of tasks. Therefore, he stayed clean and pure and powerfully anointed. He had absolutely no fear.

         Those who would repent made the trek out of societal and religious nonsense. They put forth all the required effort to go out to the wilderness. They heard his great preaching and appreciated his no-nonsense manner. Their spirit rose within them: This is what we need!

         “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [Luke 1:17] [1]

         This is what we need. It is what the Lord always supplies if it be the cry of our heart. John was not Elijah, but he had the same incredible prophetic anointing. Such a great anointing always precedes great movements of the Spirit of the Lord.

         Look around. Is there a genuine non-counterfeit prophetic anointing indicative of John the Immerser or Elijah the prophet “out in the wilderness” somewhere near you? If so, the Lord will be coming to your place, and maybe soon. It’s a matter of proper preparation and His perfect timing. He always goes where He is welcome, though it seems such welcomes are in short supply… 

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.