"The Birth and Future Ministry of John The Baptist"
December 1, 2019

C. R. Oliver

December 1, 2019

"The Birth and Future Ministry of John The Baptist"

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      This final newsletter of 2019 will focus on the miraculous birth and ministry of John, the Baptist. Normally, the world is settling into the Christmas mode and doing things to celebrate the birth of Jesus. However, our emphasis will zero in on the wonderful birth of "the fore-runner."

     Thanks to Luke, the account of John's birth is loaded with elements which are often glazed over in an effort to look into Joseph and Mary's miracle baby. The interaction, however, between Zechariah-Elizabeth and Joseph-Mary is significant. Six months apart, these babies were both products of prophetic declaration and both were accompanied with angels.

Luke 1: 5-9:
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

It is significant to note the government within which these births took place. Nothing good can be said for Herod. Herod was a politician and compromised with the Roman government. Zecharias ministered under these circumstances.

He was on duty as the chosen priest because of two factors:

  1. He was of the ranks of Abijah. (David, upon seeing a proliferation of priests [too many to minister at one time], divided the priesthood into twenty-four units and numbered them in a hierarchy. Abijah was number 8 on the list [I Chronicles 24:10ff].)

  2. 2. Zacharias was the one chosen, by casting lots to serve the incense altar. (Random lots were cast, believing the Lord determined the lot and, in this case, He did!) It is not happenstance that chose Zacharias; he was at the right place and he was right on time. Ministering is always a matter of being where God wants you to be, at the place He chooses, to the people He points to and as long as He wishes. This was an En Punto experience for Zacharias.

Genealogically, both Zacharias and Elizabeth were well credentialed. Both were from the lineage of Aaron and Zadok. This lineage was important for the child, John.

     Scripture shows that John was descended from a father who was a priest and had a mother who was the daughter of a priest; and thus, both through father and mother, he descended from the family of Amram, of whom came Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, the most illustrious characters in the whole of Jewish history.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

A huge heritage was flowing through Zacharias's and Elizabeth's veins; however, they had greater credentials than blood line. They were righteous before God; they walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord and were blameless. The Lord still goes about the earth seeking those who walk uprightly. Holiness and righteous are to be the insignias we carry. God's venue is not based on any other criteria than this. Political power, social position, religious affiliation and community approval mean nothing compared to holiness and righteousness.

Wherever they went as a couple, they were known for two things: they had no children and they were past the age for child bearing. Both factors played a huge part in their lives. Being childless was a "curse" in those days. Like Samuel's mother Hannah in the Tabernacle, Elizabeth had prayed long and hard for a child. Zacharias, no doubt felt burdened for her and no doubt prayed many a prayer for her. Their plight was now deemed "hopeless," just as it seemed to Abraham and Sarah. In both cases, God intervened. He is the wonderful intervening variable in life. Just when it seems doors are closed and all one must do is resign oneself to the facts of failure, there is a salient cry, "But God."

      With God, all things are possible. Nothing is impossible with God.

How easy sometimes to forget or even relegate this truth to someone other than "our situation." It would be feasible to assume they had resigned themselves to their barren state and Zacharias might have determined to echo the words of Elkanah.

I Samuel 1:8:
Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"

In Luke 1:8, we are told he was chosen to officiate at the altar of incense. This altar is just outside the Holy of Holies - only separated by the veil. Cherubim were embroidered on the veil indicating what lay beyond.

Zacharias took coals and mingled them with incense on the altar, causing the sweet-smelling offering to go up with his prayers. (Note Aaron, his forefather, was commanded to offer this sacrifice twice daily.)

Exodus 30:7-8:
7 "Every morning when Aaron trims the lamps, he shall burn sweet spices on the altar, 8 and each evening when he lights the lamps, he shall burn the incense before the Lord, and this shall go on from generation to generation.

Oh, that we had ministers who were holy and righteous and prayed with supplications made flaming from the coals of the altar. What a difference it would make in their praying and in their preaching. For too long, congregations have been subjected to flameless messages.

We are not told the nature of the prayers of Zacharias. I believe they were for an heir that would grow up with Zacharias' values and reflect his love for God. His prayers were for a man who would take the nation to a place of repentance and commitment to the will of God. Zacharias was going to get both in one person and his name was John.

As the event unfolded, please note there was a "whole multitude" outside praying. Corporate prayer accomplishes wonderful things. Wafting their prayers with his, caused an Angel to appear with the best news in Zacharias' life. I believe the corporate prayer of the saints (those who follow the Spirit) will usher in the return of Christ. Oh! The joy of a multitude speaking at once, but sounding as one voice in unity and like the voice of many waters-such was this concert of hearts pleading, perhaps, for different outcomes--but enthralled with the Presence of God.

Luke 1:10:
And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

An angel appeared on the right side of the altar while the priest ministered before the Lord. It is a good thing to be about one's daily ministrations to God. Although Zacharias was troubled and afraid, when he saw this otherworld creature, the Angel said what one often hears in the presence of the Lord, "Be not afraid." The Angel then states, "God has heard Zacharias' prayer." We are not told when he prayed, but we are sure of one thing, God answers the prayers of His people. Like Daniel, the prayer response may have taken a while to get to Zacharias, but it did get there. God's timing is perfect, for evidently this was not the first time this childless soul had sobbed his need.

A good question here would be, "Are you ready for an angelic visit?" In these days of uncertainty, I believe there will be many occasions where angels will be visible to the saints.

Luke 1:11-13:
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard;

How confidence building is the phrase, "Your prayers are heard". God retains the prayers of the saint. The prayers of God's people linger long after their lifetimes. Look at the prophets and one can glean that fact. Also, once verbalized, they energize the air and saturate the atmosphere like incense on the altar.

The Lord proved these facts to me at Cane Ridge, Kentucky. Touring the log structure preserved as a monument to the Awakening that happened there in 1801 and through 1805, I was led to the balcony area overlooking the lower floor. The Spirit pointed my attention to a large ceiling joist and rafter. There, was a visible pair of hand prints on those boards and the Spirit said, "Put your hands on those hands and pray in tongues so the prayer of the saint of another century is joined by a twenty-first century partner. (An overwhelming out pouring began to manifest.) The log church was not on the property in 1801 when 10,000 wagons showed up in the field of an obedient farmer. Talk about a "camp meeting," this one was huge-thousands fell out in the Spirit and they wallowed in repentance and cleansing and enthusiasm. I, unexpectedly, fell out on the front lawn when a brother, traveling with the group, imparted his anointing to me - he passed away shortly after this.

Prayers linger on earth long after they are prayed. The saints in Calgary, Canada, who have steadfastly prayed for an awakening to take place across the years --- their prayers will be heard and answered when saints join with them in chorus.

The fruit of Zacharias' prayer was the promise of siring an heir. A miraculous occurrence was about to take place, according to the Messenger. But in Zacharias' mind, there must have been a whirlwind of, "How can this be at our age?" (Remember, the God of Miracles can do anything. Nothing is too hard for Him. Do you have an impossible situation-remember Zacharias and Elizabeth.)

Luke 1:13-14:
…your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

Can you imagine Zacharias, trying to wrap his mind around that news? Think of his concerns about telling all this to Elizabeth when he returned home. Definitely, his role in the matter was on his mind as well. Equally, important was the role of his wife, for he instantly knew such a word would have to incorporate a miraculous physical change for them both (Abraham and Sarah were models).

Can you imagine him telling Elizabeth their son would be a man of destiny and would be greatly used of God and would be as powerful as Elijah?

Luke 1:13-17:
13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

So many factors are in this brief description, it is necessary to separate them.

  1. His name was supernaturally chosen. He would soon be known as John, the baptizer. (He would use this as a "baptism for repentance," when the Jordan flowed over the respondent. It would be a symbol of the washing away of their sins, just as the disciples would baptize showing "identification with Jesus".)

  2. Joy, gladness and rejoicing will be universal, but especially for Zacharias and Elizabeth. The Lord wants His people to share His joy in exuberance.

  3. He will be great in the sight of the Lord. Greatness may well be predestined, as may be said of the other qualities mentioned here. (One dear brother phoned me from Canada, and, in the course of the conversation, he asked, "Does the baby have life when sperm meets eggs?" I answered, "Yes." He answered, "No." He went on to explain that life begins when God imparts the child's spirit to that plasma. There was predestined greatness given to John. Later in the discussion, Helmut said, "I am so sad for the aborted spirits of God in America.")

  4. He shall drink neither wine or strong drink (He will utilize his full faculties. This is very much like the Rechabites of Jeremiah's time.).

  5. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. (He preceded Jesus and the day of Pentecost.)

  6. He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. (His evangelism successes were predestined before he was conceived. Moves of God require they first be born in heaven.)

  7. God will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just." (Elijah's deeds were many, so to compare John with him meant a whole range of things to his parents. They knew the total of Elijah's life and spirit-this was a huge statement.)

  8. Make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Does this mean God knew who would respond to John's message?) Are people being prepared for the Lord's return today?

The ministry of John incorporated every element of the Angel's prophetic word, but the description seemingly overwhelmed Zacharias's faith.

Luke 1:18:
And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years."

Granted, this large order prophesy required a miracle and Zacharias knew it. Listen to the Angel's reply.

Luke 1:19-20:
And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time."

God said it and that settles it! (The Bible is His word and we must take it as truth for us.) What was meted out to Zacharias might just be what's good for those doubting God's capabilities to change circumstances-just be "mute." That way, nothing of doubt, fear, unbelief or negative words can come out of one's mouth until the deed is accomplished.

His condition affected the audience who wondered why he was delayed coming out of the holy place. One look at him was enough to know he had encountered something big.

Luke 1:21-22:
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. 22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.

Zacharias' daily routine of altar service continued, but not with spoken prayers. There is nothing wrong with "thought prayers."

Luke 1:23-25:
23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. 24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 "Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people."

After going home, it wasn't long before Baby John was conceived and growing inside Elizabeth. During this time, another miracle was announced and was taking place with Mary - so, one sees the similarity between the two incidences. Both were announced by Angels, both were carrying a great man, one was the seed of man - the other of God. Soon Mary would visit Elizabeth.

Luke 1:39-45:
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord."

Several matters attended Mary's visit.

  1. John leaped in Elizabeth's womb.

  2. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (so was John).

  3. Elizabeth spoke prophetically, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." (Perhaps the most quoted verse in the Bible.)

  4. Elizabeth acknowledged a greater than John had entered her home. "Mother of my Lord."

  5. John acknowledged Jesus' presence as well: "he leapt for joy."

  6. Elizabeth blesses Mary and her faith and reassures her everything the Angel said will come to pass.

Mary is so overcome with all that is transpiring, she bursts forth with a song containing her own confession.

Luke 1:46-55: "My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and to his seed forever."

After three months, John is born and the neighbors do exactly as the Angel said, "They rejoice."

If one compares an "awakening" to the birth of John, there are several correlates.

  1. It is a Divine thing born with supernatural provision.

  2. It has to be carried in the womb of a people who long to see it birthed.

  3. When born, it is at first small, but grows into God's predestined proportion.

  4. Its mission is great - - to turn many hearts to the Lord.

  5. It ushers a nation or people into greater spiritual dimension than previously known.

  6. It does not depend on man's plans or merits.

Look at this final passage, followed by the prophetic words of Zacharias. Clearly, God passed by the most credentialled, qualified people of that day. One look at this scripture shows how the normal political and religious scheme was eclipsed and the message of the Lord zipped right out to John.

Luke 3:1-2:
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

Power messages are not dependent on position or status, but by the hand of God. Oh! That the Lord would send another such as John to call the nations to repentance.

Listen to Zacharias' blessing.

Luke 1:68-80:
68 "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74 To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

76 "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace."

80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


Calgary Conference Highlights

As always, it is impossible to garner the wonderful works of the Lord in a short pictorial overview. One thing for sure, Dr. John Igbiki and his wife, Obie, were delightful hosts and, along with their co-workers, gave us freedom to minister without restraint. Advance advertisement on Christian radio and invitational brochures to pastors and the general public welcomed our visit.

Dr. John Igbiki and Obie, leaders of the Glory Awakening Fellowship, along with Betty and me. Dr. Igbiki is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Obie is a teacher.

At the podium, Dr. Oliver began by declaring a spiritual awakening over Calgary. He preached from the notes in this December Newsletter.

The gatherings housed a blend of participants, some from distant cities, others of various callings locally.

Special invitees included Bro. Ben Hafer of Spruce Grove and Bro. Brian Troxel of Cranbrook. Ben delivered our books for the book table, and Brian preached during one session.

Team members, Don and Beverly Davis (Kerrville, Texas), ministered in song and testimony.

Team members, Jim and Brenda McCants (Walterboro, South Carolina), shown ministering blessings on the children at a special gathering in the Igbiki home. Team members also ministered during each service.

In the audience were some Calgary natives who lead special groups using our books for studies. Pictured are Tracy and Theora Meyers. Penny Meinzer and Darlene Thurston, though not pictured, enthusiastically supported us in each service.

Praying with those who represented all four quadrants of the city.

Visiting with new friends who share the vision of a Calgary Awakening.

The team at Banff on Monday.

Calgary skyline Wednesday morning after Tuesday's all day snow.


Dr. & Mrs. Oliver would like to share their joy in the announcement of the birth of their first Great Grandchild,
Sariah Kinlee Waples,
the Grandchild of the Oliver's son, Stephen.


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