Matthew 3:1 In those days came Yochanan (John) the Immerser, preaching in the wilderness of Y’hudah (Judea),
Even though Yochanan is discussed in B’rit Hadashah he is classified as the last of the Tanakh prophets. The prophet Mal’akhi (Malachi) was the last one to speak for G-d prior to Yochanan (John) coming on the scene. There had been a 400-year period of silence between their ministries.
It was the custom of the Near Eastern kings to send messengers before their arrival to remove obstacles to their visit.
Adonai states in Mal’akhi (Malachi) 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me…”
From this verse we learn that HaShem planed to make a personal visit and that He would have a forerunner to announce His arrival.
As we have discussed before Mashiach was to come twice. The rest of the verse will be fulfilled at His second coming.
Mal’akhi (Malachi) 3:1 “…and the L-rd, who you seek, will suddenly come to this temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, He will come, says the L-RD of hosts.”
We also learn in Mal’akhi (Malachi) 4:5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the L-RD”
Each of these verses will be completely fulfilled when Mashiach returns. However, they were partially fulfilled at His first coming by Yochanan the Immerser.
Matthew 3:2 And saying, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Yochanan’s message was very simple and straightforward.
Repent -meaning, “to change your mind”. You are going in one direction, turn around and go in another direction.
“The kingdom of heaven” is present in the person of the King. Since King Yeshua was present the kingdom was at hand.
Matthew 3:3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Yesha’yahu (Isaiah), saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the L-rd, make His paths straight.
Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 40:3 The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the L-RD, make straight in the desert a highway for our G-d.
We learn from Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) that G-d Himself was going to come for a visit. He supports Mal’akhi (Malachi) prophecies too.
Matthew 3:4 And Yochanan (John) himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
In Luke chapter 1 the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah telling him that his wife was going to have a baby and told him that the baby, Yochanan, would have the spirit and power of Elijah, and his job would be to prepare the people for a visit from G-d. When Mashaich comes again it is believed that Elijah will be one of the two witnesses that prepare the people for His arrival. (See Revelation 11)
Luke 1:17 And he will go before Him (the L-rd) in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the L-rd.
Camel’s Hair - The long shaggy hair of the camel was used to make a coarse cheap cloth. Yochanan (John) dressed like Elijah.
M’lakim Bet (2 Kings) 1:8 And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his waist. And he said, it is Elijah the Tishbite.
Did Yochanan eat locusts? Well, locusts are classified as a permissible food and are quite common in the Middle East. (Yuck!)
Vayikra (Leviticus) 11:20-23 All flying insects that creep on all fours will be an abomination to you. Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those, which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. But all other flying insects, which have four feet, shall be an abomination to you.
However, the word for locusts can be taken 2 ways.
Akris (singular) may either signify the insect called the locust, which still makes part of the food in the land of Judea; or the top of a plant. Many eminent commentators are of the latter opinion; but the first is the most likely. (from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)
Elaine here - on my first visit to Israel our tour guide pointed out a carob tree and told us that Yochanan (John) did not eat locusts but carob.
Matthew 3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and the entire region round about Jordan,
Yochanan (John) did not preach in town in the synagogues or in the streets, he stayed out in the wilderness and the people heard about him and came to him.
Matthew 3:6 And were immersed (baptized) of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
We have to take this in context. People where confessing their sins and becoming complete Jews here. They were declaring to the world, by immersion, that they were receiving Messiah Yeshua and what he would do in the future, die on the execution stake and raise from the dead, as payment for the wrath to come. Immersion is an outward act of an inward change.
Immersion is a symbolic act. When the believer goes under the water it symbolizes being buried with Yeshua. When the believer comes back up from under the water it symbolizes the believer identifying with Yeshua’s resurrection and ascension.