10 Now already the axe is set at the root of the trees; therefore, every tree not producing good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.
John continued with his prophetic message, and it was one of judgement. No one can escape the consequences of their actions. It has always been the same since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. The judgement of God soon followed.
John was telling the root of the trees that the judgement of God had arrived.
Who was the root of the trees?
We find the answer in Isaiah chapter 5, where God refers to His people as being His vineyard, which had grown up to produce worthless fruit, which is facing the all consuming judgement of God:
“Now this is what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will tear down its fences and let it be destroyed. I will break down its walls and let the animals trample it” – Isaiah 5.5 (NLT).
God also spoke judgement on His people through Jeremiah:
“I, the LORD Almighty, who planted this olive tree, have ordered it destroyed. For the people of Israel and Judah have done evil” – Jeremiah 11.16 (NLT).
John the Baptist gave a similar warning of impending judgement. It would seem that John was particularly speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees. Later Jesus was to describe them as blind guides (Matthew 15.14).
The judgement of God was to fall on them because they were leading the people astray, and they did so through their excessive rules and traditions.
It is important for us to realize that the judgement of God falls on us because of our own disobedience to God.
Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His word, and we will live in obedience to Him.
It is our failure to obey Him that brings us into condemnation, not God.
His desire is for all to be saved. His desire is for every human being to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Ezekiel proclaimed this word from the Lord:
As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die? – Ezekiel 33.11 (NLT).