But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? -- Matthew 3:7
Thursday, November 13, 2014
John the Baptist was not a member of the Greater Jericho Chamber of Commerce. People throughout Judea were hearing his message. Many of those hearing and responding were hopeless outcasts, people driven by evil circumstances and bad choices into lifestyles that alienated them from their community. The call for repentance and a symbolic rebirth offered them a chance to begin a new life in communion with others who wanted to turn around.
There are two sides to the message of the forerunner. One is the call to hope; the other is the warning of wrath. As some are saying frequently in our own day: that which cannot continue will not continue. The weight of sin in our world grows heavier by the day. Arrogance, selfishness, envy, lust, and violence are the seeds sown. The harvest will be blood and death, famine, disease, want, and war.
There are Pharisees in our midst to be sure. Yet it is the Sadducees who rule the day, denying heaven and any existence other than the material world, infidels and agnostics who reign in academia, media, and government. They set up their own standards of righteousness based on the degree and amount vile wickedness they have the ability to tolerate – that is when they don’t indulge in it themselves. They have their own standards of truth which cater to the current fads and their need to control, manipulate and enslave those they look down upon.
Like an approaching storm cloud, failure and defeat hang on the horizon of all man’s fleshly efforts to create a better world. Sooner or later the storm breaks, and the plans, the edifices, and the institutions of the flesh are swept away.
Yet the hope of the gospel remains. That which is built upon the Rock will not be moved. The Church will stand even as the fortresses of natural thinking fall.