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Home » Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels ! Chapter 4 - Matthew 3:10 - The Desert Voice Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius
Quick Access Chapter 1 - Matthew 1:1 - Very Man... Chapter 2 - Matthew 1:16 - Jesus the See... Chapter 3 - Matthew 2:3 - Jesus the Trou... Chapter 4 - Matthew 3:10 - The Desert Vo... Chapter 5 - Matthew 4:23 - Jesus in Seas... Chapter 6 - Matthew 5:45 - His Sun... Chapter 7 - Matthew 8:1-3 - Human Lepros... Chapter 8 - Matthew 8:34 - Man's Dislike... Chapter 9 - Matthew 11:28 - The Rest and... Chapter 10 - Matthew 11:29 - The Three E... Chapter 11 - Matthew 12:41 - Nineveh and... Chapter 12 - Matthew 13:25 - The Two Sow... Chapter 13 - Matthew 19:6 - Herod's Ball... Chapter 14 - Matthew 19:15-16 - Man's Wa... Chapter 15 - Matthew 14:24-31 - The Help... Chapter 16 - Matthew 17:17 - The Graciou... Chapter 17 - Matthew 18:1-4 - The Peerag... Chapter 18 - Matthew 18:2; Luke 19:10 - ... Chapter 19 - Matthew 21:44 - The Stone o... Chapter 20 - Matthew 22:42 - The Things ... Chapter 21 - Matthew 24:12 - The Chill o... Chapter 22 - Matthew 24:42, 44 - True Vi... Chapter 23 - Matthew 25:3 - Religion wit... Chapter 24 - Matthew 25:31, 33 - The Gre... Chapter 25 - Matthew 24:70 - The Denying... Chapter 26 - Matthew 27:4 - The True Con... Chapter 27 - Mark 3:35 - Relationship to... Chapter 28 - Mark 4:39 - The Great Calm... Chapter 29 - Mark 5:36 - Only Believe... Chapter 30 - Mark 6:6 - Jesus Wondering ... Chapter 31 - Mark 6:33, 34 - Christ's Te... Chapter 32 - Mark 6:53-56 - Jesus and Hi... Chapter 34 - Mark 11:13 - The Fruitless ... Chapter 33 - Mark 10:52 - Christ's Recog... Chapter 35 - Mark 11:22 - Faith in God... Chapter 36 - Mark 13:33 - Watch and Pray... Chapter 37 - Mark 13:34-37 - The Master ... Chapter 38 - Mark 14:62 - The Coming of ... Chapter 39 - Luke 4:16-31 - The Gracious... Chapter 40 - Luke 6:19 - Health in Jesus... Chapter 41 - Luke 7:36-50 - Much Forgive... Chapter 42 - Luke 11:13 - How Much More!... Chapter 43 - Luke 15:2 - Jesus Watching ... Chapter 44 - Luke 15:10 - God's Joy Over... Chapter 45 - Luke 15:20 - The Father's L... Chapter 46 - Luke 15:22 - God's Free Lov... Chapter 47 - Luke 17:26, 27 - Noah Days... Chapter 48 - Luke 19:11-27 - The Lowest ... Chapter 49 - Luke 14:40 - Christ Must ha... Chapter 50 - Luke 21:28 - Signs of the T... Chapter 51 - Luke 21:36 - Deliverance in... Chapter 52 - Luke 22:18 - The New Wine o... Chapter 53 - Luke 22:19, 20 - The Heaven... Chapter 54 - Luke 23:32-43 - The Three C... Chapter 55 - Luke 24:29 - The Disciples'... Chapter 56 - John 1:12, 13 - Reception o... Chapter 57 - John 3:2 - The World's Need... Chapter 58 - John 3:14, 15 - Life in Loo... Chapter 59 - John 3:29 - The Filling Up ... Chapter 60 - John 3:34, 35 - The Fullnes... Chapter 61 - John 4:10 - The Living Wate... Chapter 62 - John 5:39, 40 - Bible Testi... Chapter 63 - John 6:17 - Night with Jesu... Chapter 64 - John 6:50 - The Bread of Im... Chapter 65 - John 6:51 - Christ's Flesh ... Chapter 66 - John 7:37 - Come and Drink... Chapter 67 - John 7:53; John 8:1, 12 - J... Chapter 68 - John 8:31, 32 - Truth and L... Chapter 69 - John 8:54 - The Father Hono... Chapter 70 - John 11:40 - The Honour Giv... Chapter 71 - John 12:12 - Inquiring afte... Chapter 72 - John 12:32 - The Great Attr... Chapter 73 - John 12:35-36 - Light and i... Chapter 74 - John 12:46 - Light for the ... Chapter 75 - John 12:48 - The Judging Wo... Chapter 76 - John 14:8-10 - The Revelati... Chapter 77 - John 13:16, 17 - The Abidin... Chapter 78 - John 14:26 - The Mighty Com... Chapter 79 - John 14:27 - The Divine Leg... Chapter 80 - John 16:25-28 - Christ in H... Chapter 81 - John 16:33 - Tribulation, P... Chapter 82 - John 17:26 - The Declaratio... Chapter 84 - John 18:28 - Ritualism and ... Chapter 84 - John 19:2 - The Greater Sin... Chapter 85 - John 20:17 - Christ's Work ... Chapter 86 - John 21:5 - The Tender Love... Light & Truth - The Gospels - Footnotes...
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The Desert Voice.
"And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."
This is the voice of one crying in the wilderness; the voice of a second Elijah; the man of the desert; the burning and shining light; the forerunner of Messiah; the prophet of warning. He spoke to Israel; he speaks to us.
It is the voice of warning; a trumpet voice; prelude to the last trumpet; herald of coming wrath and woe. It spoke first to Israel; it speaks to the church; it speaks to Christendom; it speaks to the world; it speaks to each of us.
I. The axe. This is judgment; destruction. The axe is not for planting, or pruning, or dressing, or propping, or protecting, but for cutting down. It is spoken of as used for trees (Deuteronomy 20:19); for the carved work of the temple (Psalm 64:6); for towers (Ezekiel 26:9); for a whole forest (Jeremiah 66:22, 23); for a battle-axe (Jeremiah 51.20). In all cases for overthrow, utter overthrow. The axe against Israel was the Roman host, and many such axes has God wielded, age after age. Every judgment is an axe; pestilence is God's axe; famine God's axe; adversity God's axe. At Christ's second coming will be the uplifting of the axe against antichrist, against Christendom, against every false church. There is a great difference between the axe and the pruning knife. Yet some of God's judgments are both in one. An axe to the ungodly; a pruning knife to the saint. It is God's axe, not man's; its edge is sharp; it is heavy; it will do its work well.
II. The forest. He is speaking, not of a tree, but trees; a forest. He is likening Israel to a forest. It may be an olivewood or a palm-wood, the oaks of Bashan or the cedars of Lebanon. Israel is the forest, God's forest, planted by God, on God's own hills and valleys. So also is the church; and each member is a tree in that forest. On that forest God has his eye; from its trees God comes seeking fruit. From the forest of Lebanon trees were once cut down for the temple; but this is for destruction, not for building nor ornament,
III. The warning. The axe lies at the root of these trees. He who placed it there placed it for a warning. He saw his trees not prospering, not growing, not bearing fruit, and He resolved to proceed against them. He cannot tolerate fruitlessness, for which there is no excuse. But He is patient; so He contents himself simply with laying down the axe, leaving it to speak its own lesson, to tell its own tale, a tale of coming judgment, which yet may be averted by fruitfulness. It is laid down and left to lie; not cast down, as if hastily or at random. It is laid down at the root, for it is not against leaves or branches, but against the root that the vengeance is to be directed.
IV. The execution. The axe lies idle for a time, its sharp edge glittering in the sun. But it is to be lifted up. The forest is to be cut down, not stripped as by the hurricane, nor blasted as by lightning, but cut down at the very root; laid upon the ground; no longer its waving branches and leaves making a goodly show, but "cut down," separated from that soil out of which it was extracting no fruitfulness. "Cut it down" is the command! Why does it pretend to be a fruitful tree with its leaves and branches? Cut it down; why does it thus impose upon the eye? why cumbereth it the ground?
V. The doom. Cast into the fire. Not left to wither, but cast out to be consumed. It cumbered the ground when living; it must not do so when dead. Let it be burned! Nothing for it but the fire. Its end is to be burned. And the fire is everlasting; it shall not be quenched; and yet the tree shall never be consumed. Awful doom. Never quenched, never consumed! It's smoke rising up forever and ever. No possibility of restoration! No hope of this tree (as in that of which Job speaks, 14:7); no water to make it bud again. Nothing but the ever-consuming fire.
VI. The cause. Unfruitfulness in good. Not extreme wickedness, but simple unfruitfulness in good! How searching this announcement. O ye that count on heaven because you have done no harm, look here. If you have done no good, borne no good fruit, that is enough! And the sentence is as sweeping as it is searching, for it is "every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit." No exception, no sparing, "They shall not escape."
This, then, is the process that is now going on; this is the nature of the present dispensation. If it were to be depicted by emblem, it would be an axe lying at the root of a tree!
Christ, at his first coming, laid the axe there; at his second coming He will lift it up and smite! The axe was laid down when Israel least thought of such a thing; when they were boasting of privilege, and calling themselves children of Abraham; so it shall be lifted up to smite, when men are saying "peace and safety;" boasting of progress and reform, and deliverance from the bigotry of narrow-minded men.
Now is the age of trial, of probation. Israel's forest was found barren, and was cut down. Now Christendom is on its trial. Shall it be cut down? It has been long spared. Is it fruitful? Thou, O man, art on thy trial! What is to be the issue when the Lord comes?
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