Today’s readings.. (2 kings 17), (Ezekiel 7), (Luke 3)
    Our 3 readings today have, in a sense, a common theme.  Luke ch. 3 gives us the message that John the Baptist preached in the wilderness; but first we noted his opening 3 verses.  Luke was a real historian and he gives details of 5 different Gentiles who were in power when John began his preaching. Sceptics in the 19th Century, emboldened by the new evolution theory, searched into secular history thinking they would surely find some inaccuracies in Luke, but to their probable dismay, they found his detail fully confirmed. It was the same with his book of Acts and this strengthened the faith of wavering believers in those days.
    John “went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance” [v.3] he was fulfilling what Isaiah had been caused to prophecy, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’” [v.4]  There had been no prophet since Malachi some 400 years earlier.   When we compare Matthew 3 v.5 onwards we see that his anger in saying, in Luke’s record, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” [v.7] is directed against the religious leaders.
    We saw comparisons with Ezekiel’s message (ch.7) sent to the people remaining in Jerusalem.  Those who had already gone into captivity like himself and Daniel were actually in a better situation. Our reading in 2 Kings 17 is about the collapse of the northern kingdom, this last kingdom was actually so evil that it’s last king had even “burned his son as an offering” [16 v.3] to the false gods he thought might help him! We note that the remaining godly people in the north had in previous reigns moved south to worship the LORD in Jerusalem. (2 Chron.15 v.9).
    After John the Baptist warned off the religious leaders “the crowds asked him, ‘What then shall we do?’” and his answer is not just to be baptised, but to change their lives and where they have two of anything “to share with him who has none, and whomever has food is to do likewise.” [v.10] This is a fundamental message of the New Testament. Baptism is an essential step in following Christ, but it must be followed by sharing our faith and doing good works. It is pleasing to live in a country where the Govt also looks after the poor as best it can, including the poor in other countries.  With what great efficiency will this happen when Jesus returns – but until then we know the things we should do – against a background of great waste of money and time by so many of the people around us in their pursuit of leisure and pleasure..