John The Baptist And The Fire Of Yahweh
Taken from a sermon by Leonard Ravenhill
(Hebrew names restored throughout)
Luke 3:16. We are going to look into the Gospel as recorded by Luke
and the third chapter.
I suppose most of us can quote John 3:16 without looking at it. How many
of us can quote Luke 3:16? Itís the other side of the coin, it should be
as well known. Well, here it isÖ in the good King James version.
Luke 3 verse 16: "John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize
you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes
I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost" and
in this version, "and with fire:" but the original says: "Holy Ghost fire."
Because Yahweh is a consuming fire. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of fire.
And Yahshua said, "Iíve come to bring fire on earth." There is no escaping
fire. This is a kind of a cliché of mine, but I still get a lift
out of saying it, I believe that tonight the world is going to hell fire
because the church has lost Holy Ghost fire, itís as simple as that.
Between Malachi and Mathew youíve got four hundred years of blackness without
any prophetic light. Four hundred years of stillness without any prophetic
voice. And then suddenly, dramatically, unexpectedly this strange man,
John the Baptist, came streaking across a sky that was totally black. The
Word says he was a "burning and a shining light." Yahshua, the greatest
character in history, says,
"There was no man comparable to John the Baptist." Not Isaiah not Jeremiah
not any of those towering saints. He is a very, very remarkable character.
John the Baptist appears in the wilderness. It was not only a wilderness
geographically, it was a wilderness morally, it was a wilderness politically,
it was a wilderness religiously. You see, you go back in the Scripture
and you read about Ezra and Nehemiah. They established a governership over
Israel made of a
hundred and twenty priests and rulers. These priests and elders ruled over
Israel. Four hundred and fifty years they dominated that nation. I say:
this was a jungle, theologically.
In 170 BC there was a man with the strange name of Antiochus Epiphanes.
You need to look up his name and his relatives. He took over Jerusalem,
he polluted the temple, he made the Jews sacrifice to idols, he built a
statue of Jupiter where the the altar of the burnt offering should have
been. He burnt the Scriptures publicly. He prohibited the worship of Jehovah.
And all this horrendous stuff went on. In 37 BC came Herod the Great. He
betrayed the nation to the Romans, he fostered immorality, he massacred
the noble people, he built that magnificent temple that was standing.
Now with this horrendous background of murder and rape and debauchery and
suffering and agony, John Baptist steps on the stage. A remarkable character.
You see, today we try to organize. We try to get a bunch of people together.
Yahweh never did that. Yahweh takes individual men. He takes Moses to the
backside of the desert. John the Baptist was in the wilderness until the
day of his showing forth.
Yahshua, the Son of Yahweh who had left the Glory, spent thirty years in
training to minister!
John the Baptist thirty years in training.
The apostle Paul at least thirty years.
Moses at least forty years;
and we want to go to Bible School six months and come out like a super
prophet! Itís the time factor that kills most of us. Tell me how much time
you spend alone with Yahweh and I will tell you how spiritual you are.
Not how many meetings you go to. Not how many gifts you have. Not how many
sermons you preach. Not how many records youíve made. Tell me what time
you spend alone with Yahweh... and Iíll tell you how spiritual you are.
The Word here tells me about this remarkable man, John the Baptist, that
he was in the wilderness until the day of his showing forth. Going forth
at the command of Yahweh Himself, of course.
He was in the wilderness, of all places. It says he had his dwelling among
wild beasts, ferocious things. The remarkable thing to me, as I read this
again today, is this: he had no role model. Elisha had Elijah. Joshua had
Moses as a role model. Timothy had Paul as a super model in front of him.
And right through the Scripture you find these men that have lived with
some giant and theyíve become like him. But this man has no model before
him. What did he do wandering on the rocks? "He ate wild honey," it says.
And he was with wild beastsÖ and he was "a wild man."
Luke chapter 3 gives you a kind of run down on the awesomness of this manís
ministry. Look this first verse.
"Ö the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Ceasar, Pontius Pilate being
governor of Judea and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother
Philip the tetrarch of Iturea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias
the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests,"
Thatís about as refreshing as a mouth full of sand, isnít it? What in the
world do you do with it? Except it gives you a framework. "Annas and Caiaphas
being the high priests," thatís illegal. They could only have one high
priest and they got two. Then came "John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
And he came into all the country about Jordan preaching the baptism of
repentance for the remission of sins." Boy, thatís a dirty thing to preach
these days. Who preaches repentance? There is an old hymn that says, Repentance
"to leave the sins Iíve done before,
and show that I in earnest grieve,
by doing them no more."
Repentance is more than saying, "Iím sorry." Repentance is mental. Itís
something in my mind, Iím going this way and I turn that way.
When Iím going this way Iím saying, "Yahweh is in the wrong and I am in
the right." When I turn around I say, "Yahweh is in the right, if He sends
me to hell He is in the right." That is repentance. Itís not just repenting
for the sin Iíve done, itís repenting about the motive that made me do
the sin. Itís going past the fruit to the root because if the root of corruption
is there, there is going to be fruit coming out that is wrong. Romans 6
talks about having your fruit unto Holiness and itís talking there to regenerate
people, not people that claim to be filled by the Holy Ghost.
John goes out, stands and ministers there. And they come to him. He is
a success any way you count it. Geographically - they come from the North
and South and East and West. He is a success socially. They came from all
levels of society. . He said to the multitude that came to be baptized,
"you generation of vipers." Isnít that pleasant? Do you know anybody whoíd
dare stand up in the First Baptist or the Last Baptist Church tomorrow
morning and say, "You generation of vipers. Iím sick of talking to you."
Uh? They would sure take a love offering for him, wouldnít they? To get
him out of town! "Oh generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee
from the wrath to come?" He was not only condemning their sin, he was saying,
"there is a gate, and when you get through it, it is eternal wrath from
We have forgotten about the wrath of God. A friend saw a bumper sticker
and you know what it said on it? "Jesus is coming and He is as mad as h--l."
Sacrilege? No. II Thessalonians 1 says, He is coming in flaming fire in
judgment on this world. In other words, Yahshua is as mad as h--l. Maybe
it is a bad way of putting it, but itís the truth. You see, we are all
looking for "gentle Jesus meek and mild." The attitude of the average Christian
today is relax and be raptured. But He is coming with flaming vengeance
on this world. There is a time when His Spiritís forbearance runs out.
There is going to be a day of the vengeance of Yahweh. And when Yahweh
gets angry youíve no idea what it is. Like a thousand volcanoes exploding.
He has appointed a day in which He is going to judge the world and the
poor blind world doesnít know much about it, and the poor blind church
doesnít think much about it now.
Let me look at this in Exodus 32. "Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched
it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle
of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought Yahweh
went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the
camp. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that
all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked
after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass,
as Moses entered into the tabernacle the cloudy pillar descended." It was
a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.
If you were in London going past where the queen lives and somebody says,
"The queen is at home," you would wonder how does he know. Well, because
when she is at home the flag is flying, when she is not at home itís not
there. I believe the sign of Yahwehís presence in a sanctuary is the pillar
of fire. Itís the living vibration of an Eternal Elohim who stands in the
midst and does something you canít explain. Yahweh is beyond definition.
I cannot explain Him. I can experience Him. I know when He touches me as
I am alone in the night, two or three oíclock in the morning. I know when
His Living Presence comes into my office in a special wave of anointing.
But notice He did not come until they went outside the camp!!
There are very, very, few occasions when Yahweh Almighty has revived dead
denominations. The men who stirred their generations had to go outside
the camp. Doesnít it say in Hebrews 13:12 that "He went outside the camp?!"
Thatís fine, but when it comes to verse 13 "you go outside the camp and
bear His reproach." Maybe before long Yahweh will bring a cleavage somewhere
in this city, I hope He does. And you will have to get outside of the camp.
You will have to leave your group, and you will have to go join a people
who have the anointing of Yahweh. They may be poor, and have no stained
glass window, and beautiful choir...
I am impressed with this, you may not be, but I am. Verse 9: "It came to
pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended,
and stood at the door of the tabernacle.... And all the people saw the
cloudy pillar." Wouldnít it be wonderful...? Imagine if you could answer
your child as one of those Israeli mothers would. Her little boy wakes
up at night and says,
"Mommy, sometimes I think of those days we were in Egypt, I think about
that terrible journey we made and I wonder whatís going to happen." She
puts her arms around him and says, "Darling, you see that? That pillar
of fire over there? Thatís the holy place. Our Holy Elohim brands it with
His presence of fire."
Doesnít it say in Hebrews that Yahweh makes His Angels ministering Spirits,
and His ministers flames of fire? Weíve got snowmen in the pulpits with
icicles hanging all around. If ever the fire comes thereíll be some melting!
I say again, this man John Baptist has no pattern before him. I believe
this man walked up and down amongst the wild beasts, and there he is, he
doesnít eat much. Some big flies, you know, a bit bigger than these horrible
things that eat my garden up, grasshoppers. Big, big things, he caught
them, put them on a rock and roasted them. Three times a day he had locust
burgers. Nothing else to eat except locusts and wild honey. And yet the
people come near to hear him. Iíll say it again, for my comfort if not
yours: You never have to advertise a fire. Whether itís spiritual or a
physical fire. The most self advertising thing in this world is a fire.
I remember getting home between one and two oíclocka morning in England.
I said to my wife, "Sweetheart, one of the big mills in town is on fire,
letís go. Itís nearly two oíclock, thereíll be nobody there." Everyone
in the city woke up with the same idea, so they all went. We couldnít get
within three blocks of the place. I said, "Sweetheart, weíll go Ďround..."
We went around in our little car, you know, those tiny little things. Well,
we got half way down the street it was so fierce we could not even stand
there, the fire was so terrible in itís majesty. This huge mill burning.
I wonder how many of us have really seen a man who is on fire for Yahweh.
When the Holy Ghost came in the upper room, how did He come? Did He come
as a dove? -- When Jesus received His baptism the Spirit came as a dove
upon Him. There was nothing in Him to purify. He comes to us in fire because
we need purification.
I remember a night in Gillingham, east of London. We rented a church. Iíll
tell you who came, if youíve read "Godís Smuggler," he talks in there about
a man called Uncle Hoppy. Well, Uncle Hoppy "hopped" in the meeting that
He came in the most broken down automobile Iíve ever seen. He was nuts,
pardon the phrase, but he was sanctified nuts. He came in clothes that
were almost worn out. He bought all his clothes at the Salvation Army.
This old car came wheezing up the street, rheumatism in all the wheels
and asthma in the motor. It was sobbing and groaning as it came up the
hill... but he was giving thousands of dollars away to missions!
He stayed with us for a half night of prayer. Iíll never forget that night
of prayer. There were surgings of blessings. There were times when Yahweh
so came in power, I was afraid to open my eyes. We started praying at nine
oíclock. Between one and two in the morning we were going out. There was
an old lady at the back, sitting in a wheel-chair; a white-haired lady.
"Oh, brother," she said, (she didnít know any of our names,) "Wasnít it
wonderful!" I said, "It was." "One of the best... Iíve been in many prayer
meetings, this was one of the greatest, most powerful. Wasnít it wonderful?"
I said, "Sure, I said that." "Did you feel anything different about one
oíclock?" I said, "Yes, I felt a hand or something cameÖ I felt a quickening
in my spirit." "It was just then." "Just then what?" "You didnít see it?"
"No, no, I was with my head down praying." She said, "A tongue of fire
came down on the head of the first, went to the next, went to the next,
went to the next, right to the end. It was awesome." No wonder everyone
of us felt a wonderful insurge of the Life of Yahweh... Or the power of
Yahweh, define it as you will.
You see, there is a great deal of difference between revival and evangelism.
I am so sick to death, I hardly read any reports of meetings that come
to me. Everybody is getting half of America saved. If you add all the lists
of people saved, everybody in America, the whole population has been saved
and filled with the Holy Ghost about six times over in the last ten years.
And yet we are as dumb and as dead and as damned as we were when we started
You want to know what preaching is? Study this third chapter in the Gospel
of Luke, and when youíve read that read the twenty-sixth chapter of the
Acts of the Apostles where Paul is standing before a heathen king in a
pagan court and says, "Yahweh called me to preach." And He summarizes what
preaching is: itís to open the eyes of the blind, to turn them from darkness
to light, from the power of Satan unto Yahweh, that they may receive forgiveness
of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified.
People come to the altar, yes, but meet them at the door and ask what happened.
"Oh, ah, ah, ah, ah. I confessed my sins." There is not one evangelist
in fifty in America today preaching salvation. They are preaching forgiveness.
"Just come and get forgiven." That is not salvation. Yahshua came to do
more than forgive us our sins. He came for something more, He came to rescue
us from hell, He came to rescue us from sin and sinning. Not just our past
sin, but to stop this damnable business that makes Yahweh so sad. "He that
is born of Yahweh does not" N-O-T "does not commit sin." You say itís impossible
not to sin. It is possible for us not to sin.
What happened when Peter preached on the day of Pentecost? What does it
say? They were pricked in their hearts. After that Stephen preached. And
when he preached the same thing happened. Peter on the day of Pentecost
says to the men he had ran away from: "You crucified the King of Glory.
You killed Him." Stephen says, "You murdered the son of Yahweh."
That is preaching. When Nathan the prophet went to David, he didnít say,
"You know, some of you are guilty." Did he? He said, "Thou art the man!"
Oh, people you'd love to hear somebody say, "Hey fellow, listen, last night
you committed adultery. You embezzled some money this week. Youíve got
a spirit of hatred which Yahweh says is as bad as committing murder?" Again,
Yahshua came not to save us just from sins, but from sinning. When they
heard these men, they were pricked in their hearts.
I go back into the third chapter, verse 7, he says, "Oh, generation of
vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth
fruit meat for repentance." And quit saying "we have Abraham to our father."
Isnít this nice. He called them vipers and now he says, "Yahweh can do
as much through stones as through Abraham. Donít boast of Abraham; if Yahweh
wants Heíll turn those stones into children to worship Him." Thatís pretty
much exhausting their theology, isnít it? In verse 9 he says, "The ax is
laid unto the root of the trees, every tree therefore which bringeth not
forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked
him,Ö" He didnít ask them! They were so conscious of guilt, they felt as
though they had some serpent or scorpion stinging them. They didnít dare
look back because of their sins. They didnít dare look forward because
of judgment. They didnít dare look round about them, somebody might come
pouncing on them. And so they cried out.
This is revival!
Itís not singing some sentimental chorus, then giving the invitation: "Would
you like to come? Yahshua is waiting, wringing His hands in heaven, He
would be so upset if you donít come." Yahshua doesnít care a hill of beans
whether you come or not. Heís done everything He can do for you. You have
to do the rest. He is not going to whip you into submission. He is not
going to demand, though you sing, "Love so amazing, so divine, demands
my soul, my life, my all." Itís on your side to do it. But notice who they
Verse 10 The people asked him, "What shall we do?"
Verse 12, "Then came also the publicans to be baptized, and said unto him,
Master, what shall we do?"
Verse 14 the soldiers, they were Romans, they lived in a pagan society,
theyíd never seen a man on fire for Yahweh. Theyíd never seen a priest
who didnít care a bit about his trimmings.
Remember how this man was born. His father Zacharias went into the temple
and as he got there to the altar, there was an angel on the right sideÖ
And he says to him, "Fear notÖ your wife is going to bear a son." And Yahweh
does a miracle to raise that child up. Zacharias did this once in his life
only. There is a line behind him of at least two thousand priests, all
waiting for the one time in their life when theyíll go in long white garment
and enter into the Holy Place. Which is awesome. When he gets in there,
thereís a marvelous person by the name of Gabriel: "Fear not. I have a
message from Yahweh for you."
If you havenít had it, if you walk with Yahweh, one day you will go to
a meeting and youíll think Yahweh Almighty is talking to nobody in that
congregation but you. Why is He singling me out?
Because you have the ears to hear which you didnít have before.
Because you have a hunger for Yahweh you never had before.
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