The Bible indicates that John the Baptist was a Nazirite. Before his birth, the angel of the Lord instructed Zacharias, that he “shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15).
Like Samson (Judges 13:4, 5) and Samuel (1 Sam. 1:22), John the Baptist was a Nazirite from birth. At all times a Nazirite (Gen. 49:26; Num. 6:2) was to keep the appetites and passions under strict subjection to principle (Judges 13:5).
John refrained from the feasting and drinking where others freely engaged, and probably expected his disciples to follow his example. Both the gospels of Matthew and Luke indicate that John lived a life of abstinence “neither eating bread nor drinking wine” (Matthew 11:18; Luke 7:33).
His life-style was patterned after that of the prophets. “Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4). His dress was also a rebuke to the excess of his time, to the “soft raiment” worn “in kings’ houses” (Matt. 11:8), and was appropriate to his message of repentance from sin.
The people were not happy with the Baptist’s rebuke of their sins and their life-style which was opposite to his simplicity. They didn’t want to abandon their ways and seek the Lord humbly in repentance. To them, John’s call was a call to self-denial, and this was not appealing to them (Matt. 11:17).
The important task given to John the Baptist required full control over his mental and spiritual powers, that he might be an example for people. In a similar way those who participate in the task of proclaiming the second coming of Christ must purify their lives “even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).
In His service,
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