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Daily Reading: 3rd June 2016

Matthew 3.4-6.

4 Now John had a garment of camels’ hair and a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.

5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the surrounding region of Jordan went out to Him,

6 And confessing their sins they were baptized by him in the river Jordan.

Johns’ clothing would probably not win any fashion awards, and it would seem not to be the most comfortable of attire. It is supposed that the garment would have been the hair of camels, and not the skin. It would have been woven to form a coarse garment, not too dissimilar to the old fashioned sacks that were abundant in industry a few decades ago.

This was a coarse material that would not have been pleasant to the feel.

Elijah is also described as wearing similar clothing made from camels hair:

“He was a hairy man, *[Or He was wearing clothing made of hair.] and he wore a leather belt around his waist” – 2 Kings 1.8 (NLT).

The ‘hairy man’ does not refer to Elijah’s physical body, but to what he wore.

Perhaps for both men this was symbolic of the God given message they were to bring. It would be entirely appropriate for John to wear the same kind of material, since he came in the spirit of Elijah. We can be sure that it would not have been a comfortable message.

The diet of John was also something that was probably not on most people’s favourite meal list.

It is said that the locust insect when fried tastes somewhat like a river crayfish. Since I’ve never eaten this I don’t know what that taste is like.

It is possible that it could have been the locust bean, which does have a nice and distinctive taste. However, the locust that John ate is more likely to have been the insect.

The wild honey would have been found in the clefts of rocks, or in the hollows of trees. We recall that Samson found some wild honey in the carcass of a lion he had killed:

[8] Later, when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he turned off the path to look at the carcass of the lion. And he found that a swarm of bees had made some honey in the carcass.

[9] He scooped some of the honey into his hands and ate it along the way – Judges 14.8-9 (NLT).

This could be symbolic of the message of God being both sweet, because it looked towards Jesus, but bitter for those who faced judgement for failing to prepare the way in their lives for the coming of Jesus.

 

 

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