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A long time after Ezra and Nehemiah, and a very short time before the Rescuer arrived, God sent a special baby to an old man and woman who couldn’t have any babies! His name was John, and God said he was to be a prophet.
Long ago, God had promised to always love his people, and they had promised to always love him back. God was still keeping his promise, but his people still weren’t keeping theirs. (They tried for a while, but, as you know, they couldn’t do it! That’s why they needed a Rescuer.)
So John would remind the Israelites that they needed rescuing. He would tell them it wasn’t good enough to be Abraham’s great-great-great grandchildren, (there were lots and lots of those!), unless they followed God’s rules. He would remind them that God cared about their whole lives, and all their sins—the little lies, and stealing, and selfishness—well, God cared about all of that, too!
God said John would be a voice shouting from the desert: “Get ready! God is coming to live with his people!”
John would tell God’s people to change their minds, and change their hearts. To stop wandering away from God, and chasing other things to love. He would tell them to turn around, to start their lives over, loving God and watching for the Rescuer. And when they said they were sorry for their sins, John would baptize them under the water of the Jordan River, to show that they were ending their old running-away-life, and starting a new, watching-for-rescue life.
Baby John was going to grow up and do the same thing Ezra and Nehemiah had done, reminding God’s people of his rules, and his promise. Except there was one very big difference:
Ezra and Nehemiah had known that God would send the Rescuer someday, but John would say, “He is coming soon! And any day now, you will see him yourself!”