This is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.’” Matthew 3:3.
The preaching of John the Baptist created intense excitement. At the beginning of his ministry, religious interest was very low. Superstition, tradition, and fables had confused the minds of the people, and the right way was not understood. Zealous in securing worldly treasure and honor, the people had forgotten God….
The teaching of John aroused in the hearts of many a great desire to have a part in the blessings that Christ was to bring, and they received the truth. These saw the need of reform. They must not only seek to enter in at the strait gate; they must strive and agonize in order to have the blessings of the gospel. Nothing save a vehement desire, a determined will, a fixedness of purpose, could resist the moral darkness that covered the earth as the pall of death. In order to obtain the blessings that it was their privilege to have, they must work earnestly, they must deny self.
The work of John the Baptist represents the work for these times. His work, and the work of those who go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to arouse the people from their apathy, are the same in many respects. Christ is to come the second time to judge the world in righteousness. The messengers of God who bear the last message of warning to be given to the world are to prepare the way for Christ’s second advent as John prepared the way for His first advent. If the kingdom of heaven suffered violence in the days of John, it suffers violence now; today the blessings of the gospel must be secured in the same way. If form and ceremony were of no avail then, a form of godliness without the power can be of no avail now.
Two powers are at work. On the one side Satan is working with all his forces to counterwork the influence of the work of God; on the other hand God is working through His servants to call sinners to repentance. Which will prevail? Satan, knowing that his time is short, has come down with great power and is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. Every agent that he can employ, he is using to prevent souls from coming to the light. The victories we gain over self and sin are gained at the expense of the enemy, and he will not let us enjoy the blessings of God without making determined efforts to resist us.—Youth’s Instructor, May 17, 1900.