Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
It is certain that we are living in an evil time. Signs of impending danger due to the wickedness of the heart of man are seen continually. When this wretchedness becomes an excuse, however, to stop being a vibrant witness for the Lord we need to reevaluate and reconsider human history while observing God’s intervention. One such window into the heart of God and history is seen in the call of John the Baptist—God’s voice sent to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Is that any different than what we are called to do today?
Luke, the physician who was also an outstanding historian, details precisely the timing of the call of John. This was God’s call. It was the Lord who broke in at this specific time to bring everlasting change. He called John when society was at its worst. Was this not a time so godless that the Son of God, Himself, was brutally beaten and nailed to an old rugged cross? Before we consider our day, let’s consider John’s.
God called John when Tiberius Caesar was nearing the end of his reign. This was a leader who Pliny the Elder called, “the gloomiest man of all.” An outstanding military leader, he had divorced a wife he dearly loved only to marry a woman he hated at the request of Augustus for political gain (she also had divorced and remarried twice for political gain). Did I mention that she, Julia, was the step sister of Tiberius? She was such an adulterous woman that her list of lovers had to be exiled often to counter the scandals she created. Yet, she was not to be out done by her perverse step-brother/husband. He was a blatant pedophile who raped babies and young boys. “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar… the word of God came unto John…”
John received his assignment when Pilate reigned. Need I say more? “…Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea…the word of God came unto John…”
What about God’s word coming when Herod Antipas was Tetrarch? Like Tiberius, he too divorced and remarried for political gain. His new wife, Herodias, was also a relative. She was married to his brother Phillip, but divorced him to marry Herod. Herod was known for his wild and perverse parties. The Bible tells us about one where the daughter of Herodias and Herod II danced to the applause of all and the affection of Herod. Prompted by her mother for calling her out, John’s head on a platter would be Salome's pay. Did I mention that Salome became the wife of Phillip also mentioned in Luke’s list? Phillip married the daughter of his ex-wife who was now married to his brother! “…and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis… the word of God came unto John…”
This was a time when evil men even ruled the “church”. It was Annas and Caiaphas who hatched the plot to kill Jesus. Need I say more? Should I discuss the persecutions they oversaw which are spoken of in Acts? “Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”
Truly this is an evil day, but what has changed? Men have always been evil. To combat this God sends His servants to be His voice crying out with a message of Hope in Christ. Is He calling you to speak for Him? Listen carefully! You may hear that small still voice calling you to proclaim Christ; consequently, being a part of the solution and not the problem. He wants you to prepare the way of the LORD by warning those who may be in His path—calling them to reconciliation. Speak quickly since Jesus Christ is Soon2Come!
More on this another day…