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Men were sent to investigate why John was baptizing, and asked if he was the Messiah. John's reply was very simple, that he was not the Messiah, but he was preparing the way. He did not point to himself, but instead told the men that the One who comes after this preparation ranks before.
The focal point of the scene described as John baptized Jesus was entirely upon the Messiah. God's only Son, sent to redeem us from sin, had come to earth! John's preparation fulfilled many prophecies by the heralds of the covenant, from Isaiah to Malachi by turning all eyes upon Jesus. He was the "Elijah" to come, but he was preparing the way for the Christ.
Though it is very similar in description, does William Branham's 1933 baptism story turn all eyes upon Jesus Christ? Or was it intended to turn all eyes upon William Branham?
John was given a mission from the Father. His mission had one purpose: To prepare the way for the Son and to turn all eyes upon Jesus. In John 3, John says, "He must increase, but I must decrease," making sure the people followed Jesus instead of himself. His only message was that the King was coming!
The Father told John that he would recognize the Messiah, and that it would be while baptizing with water. John 1:33 describes the Word given to him by the Father: "'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."
John's purpose was to bear witness of that spirit, and his testimony was simple: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him" - John 1:32
But when William Branham added the words "to dwell in" behind the verses describing the words from the Father, "This is my beloved Son," he re-introduced the idea that the Father Himself came down, turning mortal flesh into a "god-man."
"This is My beloved Son in Whom I'm pleased to dwell." The right translation there is, "In whom I am pleased to dwell in." Jesus immediately anointed with God, He was just a man till that time, but now He becomes the God-man." - Branham, 55-0806
In a "commission story" very similar to that of William Sowders of Louisville, KY, Branham claimed that the Father also spoke through the heavens to announce William Branham to the people. Though the newspapers report only fourteen converts at the baptism, Branham claimed that as he was baptizing the seventeenth person, a "mystic light" appeared in the heavens, and proclaimed,"As John the Baptist was sent for a forerunner of the first coming of Jesus Christ, your Message will bring the second coming of Jesus Christ."
Through the course of his ministry, Branham tried through association to establish the idea that he was the "Elijah" of Malachi 4, while most Christians believe that scripture was referring to John. Once established, Branham promoted the idea that Jesus Christ Himself was coming in the form of Elijah:
"Now, we've had Elijahs, and Elijahs' coats, and Elijahs' mantles, and Elijahs' everything. But the Elijah of this day is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is to come according to Matthew the seventeen-... Luke 17:30, says the Son of man is to reveal Himself among His people. Not a man, God!" Branham, 65-1127B
Does this match scripture? Would God purposefully redirect our focus from the Work that was done on the cross to announce a mortal man? Are we really to believe that God was made flesh into William Branham, announced from the heavens in 1933, and was revealing Himself through the people?
Let's see what Jesus Himself has to say:
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. - Matthew 24:23-27
Examine the 1933 Baptism