Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 3:11, 12

11 I indeed baptize you with water into repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

John continues his discourse and rebuke of the religious leaders. In verse 9 he had prophesied that the Gentiles would cry out the great tidings of the Gospel. Inverse 10 he predicted the cutting down of every tree that fails to bare good fruit. Now in verse 11 he predicts the soon coming of the Messiah. John predicts that while he himself baptizes with water, the followers of Jesus would be baptized by the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Before Christ was born of Mary in Bethlehem, the Pre-incarnate Christ was the moving force in this world. Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-4; Hebrews 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15, 16. It was the Pre-incarnate Christ that led the Israelites through the desert for 40 years. It was the Pre-incarnate Christ that came down to the Garden of Eden and created Adam and Eve and also gave them the terrible news that because of their sin, they would have to leave the garden home. The God of the Old Testament is the same God as the New Testament, it is just he becoming the likeness of sinful man lost the ability to be omnipresent. So He sent the Holy Spirit to work upon the hearts of men and when they accept Christ as their personal Saviour and become baptized with Christ, in the watery grave they are being Baptized by the Holy Spirit who points all mankind to Christ our Creator and Redeemer.

In verse 12 John continues his prediction of future events. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Again it would be well for us to have an understand of an agrarian society to get the full impact of what is being said. First let me point out this is a reference to Christ’s second coming. His coming upon the clouds of glory to take those whose names are written in The Lamb’s Book of Life, to live with him in heaven for 1000 years.

The second coming is often referred to as the harvest. During the harvest the weeds and the wheat were often harvested together. Then they were placed on the threshing flood and beaten to dislodge the cornels of grain from the stock or the chaff. When it appeared to be separated, they would throw the harvest into the air to let the chaff and weeds be blown away by the wind, while the heavier good grain would fall again onto the threshing flood.

When the last of crops had been processed in this fashion, the chaff was gathered together and burned. It would burn in what would be described as a very hot unquenchable fire until all that could burn would be burned, and the fire would go out on its own. Unquenchable has also been applied to a fire that never goes out. But what is really being said is the effects of the fire are unquenchable in that the effect will never go away.

Sodom and Gomorrah are described as being burned by a never ending fire. They location is where the Dead Sea presently is. Is the fire still burning? No of course not. But the results of the fire last forever.

Here in verse 12 John is describing events to come at the end of time. Christ will come again and Gather his precious wheat together and upon safely storing them in the city that will never burn, cleanses the earth with fire and then re-creates the earth to all its splendid glory as it was in the Garden of Eden.

John the Revelator, the beloved disciple of Jesus, wrote these wonderful words in the 21th chapter of Revelation. 1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 and I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. 5 Then he who sat on the throne said “Behold I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21:1-5

The first two chapters of Genesis are about God and his creating of the earth. The last two chapter in Revelation are about how God, Christ, the Lamb slain for our sins re-creates the earth into its former glory before sin. All the Bible in between is about man running from God and God pleading with his earth children to return to him. Jeremiah 31:3, 4; The Lord has appeared of old to me saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. 4Again I will build you and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.”

What a glorious and wonderful day that will be!  I can hardly wait!

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John . . .

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 3:7-10

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?   8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every three which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Brood of Vipers

Harsh words spoken by John to the religious leaders of his day. I am sure each morning that none of us wake up saying, “How can I be a viper today.” Yet, I have met people that it could honestly be said that they appear to wake up each morning with the attitude of a viper. Attempting to bit and infect all those around them with their harsh words and callous deeds.

Is this what John was referring to when he called these pious religious leaders a brood of vipers?

These religious teachers and leaders had heard that John was preaching in the wilderness of the Jordan River. Hundreds of people were flocking to see and hear this strange looking man dressed in simple attire who spoke such powerful words. It was their fear of the Rome and the Rome’s reaction to these events that prompted them to investigate. After all if the Romans should knock upon their door and demand a reason for this daily assembly of people, they needed to know who and what John was teaching and preaching.

As they came to the Jordan River, their hearts were moved by the powerful words spoken by John. Never in their lifetime had they heard one preach as John did. Their hearts were stirred toward repentance and baptism. Yet their pride, their love of power, their position of leadership among the people prevented their hearts from true repentances. Although many accepted the invitation for baptism, they came up out of the water with unchanged hearts.

Their deeds, their actions, their words in the coming months and years proved that true repentance had not taken place. So as they professed on one hand to have repented and become changed, John could see that within their hearts they were the same as before.

John shouts out, “You brood of vipers. Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Hey you who call yourselves leaders of the people. Why have you come if you refuse to truly repent and allow your heart to be changed? Do you think by just being baptized and professing to repent of your sins you will be saved.

Verse 8 begins the discourse or theme which will continue throughout the entire Gospel. It reads: “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.”   Oh, how your actions prove who you really are. Our lips may say one thing, but our actions will clearly show who we truly are. We may say and do the right things when with our friends, neighbors and coworkers are near. But when they see us at a time when we would expect none of them to be around, what do our actions say then.

Recently I came across a good friend of mine. The opportunity to greet him had not presented itself, so he had no idea I was anywhere near. I considered him a good Christian and leader in his local church. But the actions I saw take place were of such that all I could do was stop and pray that God would send His Spirit to touch the heart of this man so that he would see how poorly, how unchristian like he had treated another. When he realized I was there, he was so apologetic, but of course the damage was done. I still love my friend dearly, but the fruit of his actions showed exactly where his heart truly is.

The religious leaders were much the same way. They professed to repent, but the actions of their lives showed that they truly hadn’t repented.

9 “and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ What a powerful beginning to a text. A whole sermon could be written on that one small sentence. How often do we say, “Well, I’m a Christian, I come from a Christian home and have good Christian parents. I have Christian friends and I do things other Christians do. So, I must be saved? Right?

Abraham was asked to accept the invitation to give up all that he had and travel to a distant land. There Abraham and the generations to follow him where to be an influence for good to all the peoples in every land. How could this possibly be?

In the ancient world, the land that was promised to Abraham was the crossroads of the world. Three major trading routs all made their way through the Promised Land. From the land that was given to the tribe of Benjamin one could travel south into Egypt and then into Africa. If one went north around the Mediterranean Sea they could get to Europe and if one traveled east, they would come to the Orient and India.

Why would God promise this land to Abraham and his decedents? Because God wanted them to tell the world of God’s goodness and grace. They were to be examples for the world to see on how a people led by God could be. Shining examples of God through His people to the people of the world. It was to make all the world want to become followers of the True God of Heaven.

The religious leaders failed to follow through and be the example they should be. They went after false gods and failed to listen to the prophets. Yet the religious leaders were sure that they were automatically saved because they were the seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promise.

Let me point out that we are not saved by our works. We are saved by grace through faith. However our works show that we have accepted God’s gift of grace.

Now John is telling these religious leaders, “Just because you are Abraham’s seed does not automatically qualify you to enter the kingdom of heaven.” John went on to say in verse nine “For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”

Very strong and powerful words spoken by this forerunner of Jesus. John is saying as forcefully as he can, “If you think you can do as you please just because you are of Abraham, think again. God raised up Abraham from among the many of the earth to be the proclaimer of His truths and if you fail to spread the message of God throughout the world, then he can raise up others to do the same. Even these gentiles that you call as worthless as stones can be raised up to proclaim the goodness of God.”

10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Those that live in an Aquarian society get such a rich blessing out of the studying scriptures that many of us have difficulty understanding. John was saying to this crowd of people that were well versed in their understanding of farming and its varied practices. If you are trying to make a living off a grove of fig trees and one of the trees refuses to bear figs, what do you do.? You cut it off at the root. Why because this tree that refuses to bear fruit is taking water and nutrients from the soil that could benefit the other trees. Is a tree cut down good for anything? No, not really except to be burned. And In its place, would it not be better to plant another tree that will bear fruit? It certainly would.

Christ used this same metaphor the night before his crucifixion when he said in John 15:1-8 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit.” It is a beautiful passage and I invite you to read it.

John continued, But there is one coming . . .

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 3:1-6

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! 3 For this he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; Makes His paths straight.” 4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his good was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

Israel, had long waited for the coming of the Messiah.  Among those was Zacharias, a priest, and his wife Elisabeth.  Both were righteous before God, and in their quiet and holy lives the light of faith shone out like a star amid the darkness in those evil days.  It was to this godly pair that the promise was given of a son who should go before the face of the Lord to prepare His way.

God always send a messenger ahead to prepare the way. Abraham was sent of God to introduce God’s message to the heathen Canaanites. When there number was but 70 people, God prepared Egypt to receive Jacob and his sons and their families. He did this through Joseph, whom his brothers sold into slavery.

When King David went from place to place among the nation of Israel, a running always proceeded him to inform the people, so they would be ready to receive their king. When Jesus was born, he worked upon the hearts of the people by the messages of the shepherds, Simeon, Anna and the wise men.

Now as Jesus was to begin his earthly ministry, he sent John before him to prepare the hearts of the people to receive their king. John was the cousin of Jesus. The story is outlined in the gospel written by Luke the author, historian and doctor. (see Luke 1:36)

The prophet Isaiah prophesied 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low: The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth. 5 The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 40:3-5

From the wilderness came the voice calling the people to repentance. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The hearts of many were moved.   Great crowds heard the message and were baptized by John in the River Jordan. They confessed their sins and awaited the coming King expecting the King to set up a kingdom hear on earth.

No great riches did John seek for himself. A simple life style was his. Clothed in the simplest of dress with a simple diet John preached with conviction proclaiming the good news of the soon coming Messiah.

Then hearing of John and his message, Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the areas around came to hear John, be baptized in the Jordan and confess their sins. There was change upon the horizon. The hearts of men and women were being awakened, prepared for the soon coming of the Messiah.

But when he saw many of the . . .

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