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And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. (Matthew 11:12)

Even if a man has outstanding character and an outstanding calling, he must also have opportunity in order to reach the potential of his greatness. John the Baptist entered the scene of history at precisely the right time—according to God's own plan, prediction, and provision. After 400 years with no word from the Lord, Israel was expectant; and until Jesus began His own ministry, John was the focal point of redemptive history. He was the culmination of Old Testament history and prophecy.

But John generated conflict wherever he went, because his message upset the status quo. With his call for repentance, he stirred up a hornet's nest among the religious leaders and even with the king. Everywhere he moved there was reaction, and often even violence, which eventuated in his being arrested, imprisoned, and finally executed.

From the days of John the Baptist until now (which had been a relatively brief period of time, perhaps eighteen months), the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. Everywhere he went, John evoked strong reaction....

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