“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.”
According to the testimony of Jesus Christ, there was not a greater prophet born of woman than John the Baptist. At the time of John’s birth, his father Zacharias prophesied many things about John’s future ministry. John the Baptist would be the forerunner of Jesus Christ, preparing the way for His arrival. John would preach the gospel of salvation, calling men to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. The day would come when the word of the Lord would come to John and there would be a powerful voice crying in the wilderness. Our text, however, speaks of his childhood and preparation: “the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.” Before John would be shown to Israel, there would be a time of growth and development, physically and emotionally, as well as spiritually. He would become “strong in spirit” before the “day of his shewing unto Israel.”
These words provide a great pattern and guide for our lives and our families. God has a place of service for each of us, a plan to use us in His great work. But before we embark upon our public ministry, there should be a time of private growth and spiritual training. Becoming “strong in spirit” is a prerequisite for spiritual ministry. In their zeal and haste to begin preaching and serving the Lord, some have neglected the necessary spiritual preparation. Many want to be involved in the Lord’s work and are excited about the public ministry of proclaiming truth, but not as many are enthusiastic about the time “in the deserts” that provide the strength of character and spiritual development that is required for fruitful service. What was John doing prior to “his shewing unto Israel?” He was being prepared. He was growing in the Lord, in his knowledge of the Lord, and in his understanding of his mission.
We are sometimes perplexed by the great casualty rate among the Lord’s servants; the staggering number of them who set out to serve the Lord in His harvest and then quit. Perhaps one reason is the failure to be adequately prepared. This thought also gives great purpose to those who have young children. This is part of our responsibility, to train children to be “strong in spirit,” preparing for the day they will be engaged in the great work of the Lord.