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The Ax of God's Judgment

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭3‬:‭4‬-‭10‬

“John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”

Very early this last Monday morning, as I was getting my coffee before opening up my Life Journal Bible Reading Plan. All of a sudden, I heard very loudly and clearly in my spirit, “The ax of God’s Judgment is poised.” 

Of course, I was a little startled by this, though I quickly recalled John the Baptist’s rebuke to the religious leaders in Matthew 3. Thinking, what a weird thing to hear so early in the morning, I shook it off, caffeinated myself, and opened my Bible.

Of course, as it would happen, the very thing we read that morning as part of the Bible Reading Plan is Matthew 3. John’s words rang loudly again as I read through verse 10. Finally I am awake, ready to listen to what the Spirit is wanting to speak to me…


Of course, when John says this infamous line he has yet to lay eyes on the Messiah. Even so, at this point he is baptizing hordes of people in the Jordan River who are hungry to learn about the ways of God. People who are disenfranchised by the ways of the world and are fed up with the ways of a very perverted, political and oppressive religious system. John is leading these seekers of God into the freedom of deliverance from self, as these pilgrims confess, repent and are washed before God in baptism pre-Jesus. It's a moment of what we would consider revival. A preparation in the hearts of people to receive God is happening as the first coming of the Messiah draws near. 

Of course, this draws the attention of the religious elite mentioned earlier. The Pharisee and Sadducees come to see the wild spiritual man who is gaining influence over the people they once controlled and manipulated with god-like but god-less rules and expectations. John takes notice of their presence and confronts them head-on, as only a man who’s spent years living outside and eating locusts would. 

John calls them a few names, points out their dubious intent in spectating at his baptisms, and then gives them a very stern warning.

 ”The ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”

Though this would seem a stern and brash rebuke, it's also a call of grace and mercy. Examine your heart and actions and turn from your wickedness, that is masked with religiosity before it is too late! John is clearly instigating not only a fight with the religious leaders but is also inviting them into the grace of repentance before God. It’s a smart alec remark mixed into a genuine cry for self examination. 

Which brings me back to where I started initially, why did I hear this phrase in my spirit? I am just going to start by pointing out some obvious parallels from Matthew 3 that I strongly feel need attention in the world we live in today.  

  • Of course, no one will ever know the day or time, but we are closer to the second coming of the Messiah Jesus than we have ever been before.

  • I believe there is a genuine desire for people's hearts in our nation to be prepared for His Second Coming. Not a fear like we have seen in previous times, but rather an anticipation for the Messiah to show up on the scene with justice and truth.

  • There is, in my estimation, a deep hunger and desire in people to know the truth and turn from deception in our nation. I see and sense that people are hungry to know God and to let go of the unsatisfying pleasures that come with trusting in this world. There is a call in our nation to seek and prepare your heart for the one true God.

  • God is drawing the most broken people the world has to offer to His church for healing, hope and restoration. With this, Jesus is expecting His people to be healed themselves and ready to love the hurting ones God is sending them. 

We, the people of God, have a choice and decision to make, just like the Pharisees and Sadducees. We can continue standing at the banks of the river and critique and condemn the world, or we ourselves can examine the sin masked by religion in our hearts. Ask God to prune whatever dead works He wants to in our lives, so we can participate in the harvest He is pouring out at this time. 

This moment of time is a window of grace that will determine the future of the Church in the West. Become real and vulnerable and in turn a useful instrument for the Kingdom of God. Or keep pretending and acting like you are your own god, playing Church and in turn completely miss what He is doing. Miss the blessing of being a harvester in the harvest, miss the blessing of being a confident son or daughter of the one true living God, and miss the reward of living a life submitted to the leadership of Jesus. 

As we prepare for the second coming of King Jesus, the same cry John the Baptist had for church people then is the same cry he has for the modern church people of today. Examine yourself and be willing to confront any hidden sin covered by the mask of religion. Be open and willing to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, allow yourself to be honest about your fallen condition so that you can be transformed by His grace. 

Prioritize healing from your own sin, more than critiquing others. Allow yourself to be truly known by others in God's family. Let people walk with you in valleys and mountain tops.

Be ready to show people the scars and the story of God healing you. Quit pretending you have it all figured out.

In this next season, just showing up to Church and calling yourself a Christian won’t work any longer. You are either genuinely growing in Christ’s grace or making yourself susceptible to his coming judgment.

Remember, Jesus never condemned and criticized the people He ministered to for being broken, deceived or caught in sin. He met them in their transparency and vulnerability, and through his grace brought healing and transformation to their lives. The only people Jesus rebuked were the religious elite who were too concerned with judging others to be bothered with being convicted for their own transgressions. As stated before by John the Baptist, there is a coming wrath. The longer you pretend to know Jesus without letting Jesus actually know you, the more you are placing yourself in danger. Repent from the falsehood of religion, allow God to deal with your sin and set you free, so that Jesus can then extend that same freedom through you to the world around you. 


Pastor John

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