In the natural order of things, the son of Zacharias would have been educated for the priesthood. But the training of the rabbinical schools would have unfitted him for his work. God did not send him to the teachers of theology to learn how to interpret the Scriptures. He called him to the desert, that he might learn of nature and nature's God.
It was a lonely region where he found his home, in the midst of barren hills, wild ravines, and rocky caves. But it was his choice to forgo the enjoyments and luxuries of life for the stern discipline of the wilderness. Here his surroundings were favorable to habits of simplicity and self-denial. Uninterrupted by the clamor of the world, he could here study the lessons of nature, of revelation and of Providence. The words of the angel to Zacharias had been often repeated to John by his God fearing parents. From childhood his mission had been kept before him, and he had accepted the holy trust. To him the solitude of the desert was a welcome escape from society in which suspicion, unbelief, and impurity had become well-nigh all-pervading. He distrusted his own power to withstand temptation, and shrank from constant contact with sin, lest he should lose the sense of its exceeding sinfulness.
Dedicated to God as a Nazarite from his birth he made the vow his own in a life-long consecration. His dress was that of the ancient prophets, a garment of camel's hair, confined by a leather girdle. He ate the 'locusts and wild honey' found in the wilderness, and drank the pure water from the hills.
But the life of John was not spent in idleness, in ascetic gloom, or in selfish isolation. From time to time he went forth to mingle with men; and he was ever an interested observer of what was passing in the world. From his quiet retreat he watched the unfolding of events. With vision illuminated by the divine Spirit he studied the character of men, that he might understand how to reach their hearts with the message of heaven. The burden of his mission was upon him. In solitude, by meditation and prayer, he sought to gird up his soul for the lifework before him.
John found in the wilderness his school and his sanctuary. Like Moses amid the mountains of Midian, he was shut in by God's presence and surrounded by the evidences of His power. . . .He looked upon the King in His beauty, and self was forgotten. He beheld the majesty of holiness, and felt himself to be inefficient and unworthy. He was ready to go forth as Heaven's messenger, unawed by the human, because he had looked upon the Divine. He could stand erect and fearless in the presence of earthly monarchs, because he had bowed low before the King of kings.
(Do we have the same privilege that John had, in studying God's divine nature and beholding His majesty and power? He beheld the majesty of holiness and felt inefficient and unworthy. If we study God's word and meditate on His holiness, we too will feel our need and see our unworthiness. Jesus is our Worthiness, of ourselves we have nothing to offer. We need to be like John in many ways, and then we will be victorious over Satan's temptations. He was a wonderful example of simplicity and we too can be a wonderful example of the simplicity of a Christian in this sinful world. Let's let our light shine out in the darkness and let others see what a real Christian is. By God's grace we can do that. Grandma Joan.) These thoughts were taken from the Desire of Ages chapter 10.