Part 3 – The Role of John the Baptist
To better understand Heb. 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” we must look into the ministries of John the Baptist and the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The words of their ministries refer to the judgment of Apostate Israel at the close of the seven-year Tribulation period… and Christ’s 2nd Coming; the time in which “the world of the future” will be subjected to Him. (Heb. 2:5).
“For it was not to angels that God subjected the habitable world of the future, of which we are speaking.”
(Hebrews 2:5 (AMP)
It is here that we will begin to find the real significant meaning of Hebrews 10:25.
Jesus of Nazareth’s’ original “little flock” (Luke 12:32) of believers who were promised the Kingdom was initially established during the ministry of John the Baptist with his water baptism “unto repentance.” As we will see, Israel had become so corrupted there was a need for such an individual and national repentance.
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2And saying, Repent ye: for the ‘kingdom of (from) heaven’ is at hand.” (Matt. 3:1-2)
“I (John) indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me (Jesus the Messiah) is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:” (Matt. 3:11)
You might ask, “Why was John the Baptist “preaching in the wilderness?” As a son of a Temple Priest, why not at the Temple in Jerusalem?
We need to note that God gave only one religion in all of human history. The word religion occurs but four times in the entire Bible. We trace it back to the Latin religio, meaning to bind or obligate. It conveys the sense of duty. Its realm is the outward: religious ceremony, service, conduct. In the Bible, it is chiefly synonymous with Judaism, that became degraded to a religion in Christ’s day.
God’s one religion was given at Mount Sinai through Moses, for Moses to teach and give Israel a system of 613 laws as described in Exodus through Deuteronomy. In this covenant of “the Law,” God made it clear that although He had given the Jewish people an everlasting title to “the land,” their enjoyment of it would depend on their obedience to the laws He had given them in the Mosaic Covenant. The Mosaic Law was a very strict system that God gave only to Israel in order to thoroughly demonstrate to Israel that they could never meet His standard or become His people in her own strength through self-effort.
Israel never received the message that she was a needy, rebellious, sinful nation, needing God’s salvation. We see this in Jer. 42:20, where Israel said, “we will do it.” Israel believed she could do everything God commanded. The fact is that through the centuries, Israel’s religious leaders led them into pagan idolatry and added more and more laws that were the manmade “traditions of the elders” (Matt. 15:2). God knew He would have to intervene and do the work… in order to make Israel His people.
Traditions? Yes, isn’t this just like today’s Christian religionists organizations that “teach for law the commandments of men” saying, “Only if you do this and you don’t do that, then God will bless you.” Such are the lies of Satan!
Thus, Paul called it “the Jews’ religion” (Gal. 1:14), it was not God’s genuine religion for Israel, which Paul called “the Israel of God” (Gal 6:16) because sinful Israel had corrupted it and made it into something else.
We see this in today’s church age, when so-called ministers preach mainly a ‘perverted gospel’ from their pulpits and TV, which Paul calls “another gospel” that really is not the grace gospel for today, saying these preachers are to be “accursed” (Gk., anathema, “to be banned, shunned”).
So, when we come to John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ earthly ministry, Israel had become thoroughly corrupted. In fact, when Jesus of Nazareth appeared Israel had experienced 400 years of silence from God; God’s glory had left the Temple due to her unfaithfulness from the time of Malachi… essentially giving Israel over to her sin.
So, when we come to John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ earthly ministry, Israel was thoroughly corrupted. In fact, when Jesus of Nazareth appeared Israel had experienced 400 years of silence from God; God’s glory had left the Temple due to her unfaithfulness from the time of Malachi… essentially giving Israel over to her sin.
The Lord Jesus spoke here about Israel’s awful spiritual condition in His day, calling Israel’s religious leaders “hypocrites,” saying of them, “laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the TRADITION of men”.
“Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the TRADITION of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own Tradition” (Mark 7:6-9). “… Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” (Matthew 15:6)
Yes, even today manmade tradition and laws lay at the heart of the Church at large today, preaching a ‘performance based acceptance system’ … instead of the Scripture. So, today we hear tradition, laws, lectures, and book reviews, instead of the preaching of the pure word of Paul’s revelation of the meaning of the Cross of Christ. Christendom’s so-called ‘church father’s’ writings, denominational creeds, papal encyclicals, church council decrees, rituals and rites, and the precepts of men mean everything in todays’ Apostate church, while the Holy Scriptures mean almost nothing. They may take a verse or two that can be used (out of context) to bolster their denominational view. They commonly rip a few verses out of ‘context’ only to quote and misuse them; as we will see with religion’s misuse of Hebrews 10:25’s “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…”
Noting Israel’s awful condition in his day, we can see why John the Baptist’s ministry was to be in the “wilderness.” This was God’s call for John in order to ensure doctrinal purity for those who would hear him and come out of Apostate Israel, to be separate and apart from corrupt “Jews religion,” to follow Jesus.
John’s father, Zacharias, was a Levitical priest (Luke 1:5), so John should have followed his father in serving in Israel’s Temple twice a year. Yet, the Bible never says John ever served as a Temple Priest. Instead, Scripture says of young John,
“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel” (Luke 1:80).
John the Baptist, then about age 30, began his ministry in the “wilderness.”
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye (turn away from Apostate Israel): for the kingdom of (from) heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)
In order to understand John’s peculiar ministry, we need to be mindful of the absolutely corrupt spiritual condition of Israel as practiced in its Temple at Jerusalem in that day. God did not want Jesus’ called-out ones to be tainted by the Judaism of His day.
Later Jesus’ twelve Apostles proclaimed Christ as the Son of David, to sit on David’s throne. Theirs was “the gospel of the kingdom.” But when the King and His kingdom were rejected by Apostate Israel, God raised up another apostle, Paul, to proclaim “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) for the Gentiles.
Christ was in fact raised from the dead to ultimately sit on Israel’s King David’s throne (cf. Luke 1:32), and this will yet come to pass in the Kingdom, but meanwhile, Paul has a message for us here and now during this age of grace is… that Christ was raised from the dead to certify our justification and to become “the Head” of “the Church, which is His Body.” (Eph. 1:22b-23a).