Follows on yesterday.
Probably the thing that strikes me most about John the Baptist is how much differently things must have seemed to him than they seem to us. Our understanding of John as the "opening act" before Jesus arrived is crystal clear. John was also clear that the messiah would follow him, but John probably wasn't expecting the messiah to get crucified.
John probably was looking for the almost immediate restoration of Israel as a political kingdom with its own king. It didn't happen. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, his followers were still expecting this sort of kingdom (Acts 1:6). It still hasn't happened some two thousand years later.  Some of the New Testament may still look to such a kingdom of Israel after Christ returns (e.g., Rom. 11:26).
Later Christians took John's message and made it universal, which may very well be what God wants us to do as well. For example, John's message was not directed at non-Jews. It is doubtful the thought ever popped into his head that a Gentile might get baptized. We now see his message of baptism played out in Christian baptism, where we prepare not for the restoration of Israel but we act out our inclusion in God's kingdom.
For the moment, this kingdom is not political but is a spiritual kingdom. We live in two kingdoms, the kingdom of our God and the kingdom of this world. Our loyalty is solidly to the first, and we choose it over the second when the two are in unresolvable conflict. But we also live in the second kingdom and we render to Caesar what is Caesar's.
The situation with baptism is slightly different than it was with John. When the movement started, no one was baptized. He called all Israel to baptism, even those trying to keep the covenant. After all, he was looking to the repentance of a whole people, even more than mere individuals. This is one reason we can participate in confessions of sin in church even when we have not intentionally done wrong all week--it is a corporate confession of the church as a whole.
Now of course we have children born into families of faith. Some thus would have them baptized as children, to claim them for Christ from the very beginning, knowing of course that they will have to appropriate that act personally as well later. Others focus on the individual and want the child to wait until he or she can understand at least a little of what baptism signifies. The eternal destiny of the child is of course something separate from these debates.
When we look at how differently our situation is than John's, it is a bit sobering to wonder how much of what we think we have figured out might be a little off on the details or out of perspective. Certainly most of us as Christians will believe that something unique was happening at the time of Jesus, a new revelation that will never come again. Someone might also point out that we now have the New Testament, which transcends the misunderstandings of any one early Christian.
But if we're honest with each other, Christians probably disagree more with each other today over what the Bible means than the early Jesus followers disagreed with each other. It calls for a certain humility. And it calls us back to first principles. Jesus would both express and model the two basic principles of Christian life, to which all our specific beliefs must submit. These are the twin principles of complete surrender to God's will, which more than anywhere else is seen in the second principle of concretely loving all others as we would normally want others to treat us.
 While a nation of Israel is currently restored, it is not a kingdom that affirms Jesus as messiah, which from a New Testament perspective would be an essential part of a truly restored Israel.