Let’s look at Yochanon Ha Matvil (John the Immerser). In Luke 1, we learn that his birth is predicted as Gabriel appears before Zechariah in the Heichal burning incense, praying Amidah #15. It is said by Gabriel that Yochanon will go before him (Messiah) in the spirit and power of Elijah. This happened around mid-June. Yeshua will be conceived six months later, around Chanukah, and Yochanon was born three months after that, around Passover. Yeshua is born six months later, around the festival of Sukkot. All of this can be firmly established by Scripture. Yochanon had the same commission and the same “mind-set” as Elijah. They were cut out of the same cloth. We know from Mal 4.4-5 that there will be an “Elijah” before Yeshua came the first time, and there will be an “Elijah” before his second coming to prepare the people.
Yochanon comes preaching the immersion of teshuvah (repentance) in Luke 3.1-6, and he says he is the “voice of one crying in the wilderness.” He is to make ready the way of the Lord and to get the people ready by “making his paths straight (correcting injustices), and every ravine filled up (the humble raised), and every mountain and hill brought low (the proud humbled).” It goes on to say that the “crooked shall become straight (crooked and perverse teaching shall be corrected and replaced by Torah)” and “the rough roads smooth (stony hearts replaced by born again hearts of flesh).” He is “preparing the way” (Mal 3.1; Isa 62.10).
In Luke 3.7-17 he tells the people to repent before something bad happens. He says, “The axe (the Romans) are at the root of the trees (Israel).” He then tells them, “Every person (the trees) that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (and they were in 70 A.D.). Then in Luke 3.8 he says something interesting. He tells them to bring fruits of repentance and do not begin to say among themselves that “we have Abraham as our father.” Yochanon says that “God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. What stones was he talking about?
Yochanon was preaching in the wilderness around trans-Jordan, or “Beth-arabah” (John 1.28). Israel crosses the Jordan at the spot he was preaching and set up twelve stones (Josh 4.1-9). Josh 15.61 confirms that this wilderness is Beth-arabah. Israel came up from the Jordan at Gilgal (Josh 4.19). Gilgal became the place to “renew the kingdom” (1 Sam 11.14). Yochanon was renewing the kingdom there also, preaching the Kingdom of God. Gilgal has the same root as Golgotha. Israel was circumcised at Gilgal because it wasn’t done in the wilderness, and the reproach of Egypt was “rolled away” (Josh 5.9). The same thing happened at Golgotha where our sin was washed away and we have our hearts “circumcised” when we are born again. Yochanon way have been pointing to the very stones Joshua set up when he said this.
Yochanon says in Luke 3.8 and Matt 3.9 that they were not to suppose that they could say they were children of Abraham so we don’t need to repent. Then he mentions the stones that God could use to make children to Abraham. Yochanon’s statement is based on Ezek 33.23-24, “Son of man, they who live in these waste places in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one, yet possessed the land; so to us who are many the land has been given as a possession.'” In other words, since God gave him (one man) the land, they (many descendants) thought it was theirs since they (the many) have escaped all the troubles and were “blessed.” In reality, it was the opposite. Since Abraham sacrificed one son (was willing to anyway) and inherited the land, they who have sacrificed many sons should inherit it. As a side note, Ezek 33.25 has the same things that were given to the Jews to avoid were given to the non-Jews in Acts 15.20 and Acts 21.25. Everything being given by Yochanon has to be understood in a Jewish context. It is part of their understanding of Messiah and of what would happen.
In Matt 16.13-19, Yeshua and the talmidim were at Caesarea Philipi. Part of the city was Jewish and the other part was called “Panias” after the god Pan, the goat god. There is a shrine there called the “Gates of Hades.” Yeshua asks “Who do people say the Son of Man (Bar Enosh from Dan 7) is?” Peter says Yeshua is the Messiah, the son of the Living God (king).” The “Gates of Hades” symbolizes paganism and idolatry and it will not overpower his Kahal (his congregation that believes that he is Messiah and they follow the commandments-Rev 12.17).
In Matt 17.1-8 they are in the same area. They go up to a “high mountain” which may be Mount Hermon. In Jewish thought this was the place where Abraham was in Gen 15 when he was involved in what is called the “Covenant between the Halves.” This was given 430 years before Israel left Egypt, to the very day (Exo 12.41). So, that means the Covenant between the Halves was given on Nisan 15. Yeshua is transfigured (like Moses was in Exo 34.29-35) and Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Yeshua. Moses personifies the Torah, and Elijah the Prophets. The Torah and the Prophets teach about the Messiah (Rom 10.4; Luke 24.27; Psalm 40.7). Matt 17.9-13 goes on to say that this was a vision. The talmidim ask “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” As we have shown, this was the expectation, Elijah precedes Messiah. Yeshua says “Elijah is coming (future tense) and will restore all things, but I say to you that Elijah has already came (past tense) and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then it says that the talmidim understood that he had spoken to them about Yochanon Ha Matvil.
This tells us that there will be two comings of the Messiah and Yochanon fulfilled the role of Elijah before the Messiah Ben Joseph, the Suffering Servant. It also tells us that there will be another “Elijah” before the Messiah Ben David returns, who is Yeshua coming a second time. The first coming had an Elijah and the second coming will have an Elijah. Let’s go back to John 1.21.
Yochanon has denied that he is Elijah, but that is not a contradiction. He came in the spirit and power of Elijah, nor Elijah himself, because there is no such thing as reincarnation. He also denies he is the “prophet” of Deut 18.15-22 in John 1.21 also. Here again you have the Two Witnesses, Moses and Elijah. John 1.22-24 says they ask Yochanon, “Who are you?” He says “I am a voice calling” and this alludes back to the beginning of the Servant Passages in Isa 40.3-5, where it also says “a voice calling.” In Isa 40.6 it says “a voice says” (a Bat Kol, God’s voice), ‘Call out” and then “he” (the voice of v 3) answers “What shall I call out?” The message of Yochanon, the voice, the “Elijah” of the two comings, starts in Isa 40.6 and continues to Isa 66.24. That is a long message, and one of the most powerful verses in the Tanak is verse 6. It is the commission of the voice of verse 3.
Starting in Part 18, we will begin to look at this message from Isa 40.6 to Isa 66.24, beginning with the concept of “The Voice” found in a prayer on the last day of Sukkot (Hoshanna Rabbah= “Great Salvation”). This prayer is found in the Artscroll Machzor, p. 802 to 805 and it says, “The Reader then the congregation:
“Open the gates of heaven and your godly treasure trove may you open for us. Save us, do not let accusations be drawn out, save us, God of our salvation.”
Reader then the congregation:
“The voice of the herald (“basar/gospel) heralds (the basar/gospel) and proclaims (Hebrew= “Kol m’basar, m’basar v’awmer” and these are from the Tanak proclaiming these things about the Messiah and resurrection in this prayer):
The strength of your salvation comes,
A voice-My beloved, behold he comes.
A voice- He comes with his myriad bands, to stand upon the Mount of Olives, to stand and cry (Yeshua did this in Luke 19.41, based on what David did in 1 Sam 15.30).
A voice-The herald comes-to the blast of the shofar (Isa 27.13; Matt 24.31), he draws near, beneath him the mountain will split.
A voice-He knocks and with his radiant glance moves from the east.
A voice-Fulfilled is his ancient prophetic saying, “He has come and all his holy ones with him.”
A voice-To all who walk the earth, a still small voice is heard on the earth.
A voice-The seed he begot (Isa 66.7-9), and the seed he reared has been born as a child from its mother’s womb.
A voice-She delivered and gave birth: “Who is this? Who has heard the likes of this?”
A voice-The pure one has done this marvel and who has seen the likes of these?
A voice-Salvation and its moment were united. Can the earth bring forth in a single day (Isa 66.8)?
A voice-He who is mighty above and below, yet how can a nation be born at once?
A voice-When the Radiant One redeems his nation, at evening time there will be light.
A voice-Saviors (those with Messiah in the sense of judges) shall ascent upon Mount Zion for Zion has travailed and given birth (Isa 66.8).
A voice-It is heard within all your boundaries. Expand the area of your tents.
A voice-Set up your dwellings unto Damascus, receive your sons and your daughters.
A voice-Be joyous, O rose of Sharon, for those sleeping in Hebron have risen (the belief was the resurrection will start there).
A voice-Turn to me and you shall be saved-this very day, if you will but heed my voice.
A voice-A man has sprouted, Tzemach is his name, he is David himself (descendant of David-Zech 6.12).
A voice-Arise, you who are covered with dust; awake and sing, you who lie in the dust and filled.
A voice-When he rules the city great with people, his king shall be a tower of salvation.
A voice-The name of the wicked he will cause to be lost, but he will show kindness to his anointed, to David.
A voice-Grant salvation to the eternal people, to David and to his descendants, forever and ever.
Reader, the congregation, loudly:
The voice of the herald (Basar/Gospel) heralds (the Basar/Gospel) and proclaims (Hebrew= “Kol m’basar, m’basar v’awmer”).
The voice of the herald heralds and proclaims.
The voice of the herald heralds and proclaims.”
In Part 18, we will pick up here and continue to establish the parallel between Aaron of the First Redemption and Elijah of the Second Redemption, who is to come before the Messiah.