80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.
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I would say that it would have been to fulfill (perhaps even at God's direction to John) the prophecy of Isaiah 40 (particularly Isaiah 40:3), which would have been part of the divinely-assigned "mission" that John would have been given from God even before birth, as indicated during the visit of the archangel Gabriel to John's father Zechariah, as recounted in Luke 1:5-20.
I don't believe John the Baptist lived in the wilderness because he wanted to fulfill prophecy. I think he lived in the wilderness to draw attention to himself. John knew his calling. You're bound for success when you know early in life what God has designed for you to do. John succeeded at his calling. Why was John baptizing? For the same reason! He knew the Lamb of God would come to him; he had been given instructions from God to do the things he was doing. John dressed the way he dressed, ate the things he ate, baptized, and lived where he lived because he was instructed by God in every detail of his life. He knew his calling because he listened and obeyed (believed what he was told). Listen to his testimony: "This is the witness of John..." the Jews asked, 'Who are you? Are you the Christ?' He confessed, 'No I'm not the Christ.' And they asked him, 'What then? Are you Elijah?' He said, 'No I'm not.' "Are you the prophet?" (they mean Isaiah) He answered, 'No.' They said, 'then who are you? Tell us something so we'll know what to tell the people who sent us.' (John 1) John was preaching the arrival of the Christ who had been preached to be on the way for hundreds of years. He was Jesus' cousin. He knew Jesus! Some of us read the scriptures and get the impression that before John saw the Spirit of God alight on Jesus, he hadn't even seen or ever met Jesus. That's an erroneous understanding of the gospel story. He states twice, "I knew him not." (vs 31 and 33). He doesn't mean he'd never known Jesus; he means they hadn't collaborated. He means he wasn't sure that Jesus was th Messiah until the Spirit of God confirmed him. John had been told to be on the lookout for the Christ. He was told to baptize and the Christ would come to him. When the Christ showed up, the Spirit of God pointed him out to John. (that was the plan; John confesses to what he'd been told when he received his calling, but he doesn't elaborate on when he got the calling). How long had John been preaching? I know some preachers who knew they were called to preach as preteens. The pastor at my place of worship started preaching at 14. He went on to seminary and started pastoring at 19. He's been doing it for 30 years. Before the pandemic the church had a a membership of 12,000. It's less now, but it's still a large ministry. The late Dr Charles Stanley of First Baptist Atlanta says he knew he was called to preach when he was 12 years old. How old was John the Baptist when he received his calling? When did he leave his parents to go and live in the wilderness? He wasn't born there! Did God tell him to go there? I think he did. The scriptures have always been misunderstood. Isaiah preached 700 years before John was born, prophesying about John's ministry, his way of life etc. When John hits the scene, the "bible readers" ask John 'is he the prophet Isiah, or maybe he's Elijah.' If Isaiah was going to return himself wouldn't he have said so? I only know of one who said he'd someday return! And I believe he will!
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