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Matthew 3:12

The Hand of Judgement

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.


"It was F.B. Meyer, I believe, who once said that when we see a brother or sister in sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her. We also do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances." (Stephen Brown, Christianity Today, April 5, 1993, p. 17.)

I believe most of us would agree with Meyer, but it is this inability to know that takes away our right to judge others. John saw in the religious leaders of his day a generation of vipers. Others held these men up to be the most righteous of all men. Jesus taught us to know them by their fruits, but knowing that a person is a sinner is not the same as judging him for his sins. Recognizing hypocritical leaders helps us to avoid following in their footsteps. At the same time, we must have compassion for them, because we too are sinners saved by grace. Condemnation is a right which belongs only to God.

The winnowing fan is frequently used by the OT prophets to represent the judgement of God. The fan was used on the threshing floor to separate the wheat from the chaff. There were a variety of fans for different stages of the purification process. Once separated the chaff was burned.

The people, therefore, understood what John was talking about. He had attributed the authority and power of God's judgement to the hand of the One to come, whose name, by the way, he had not yet mentioned. The picture was one of Jesus coming to gather up His people (the wheat) and to separate them eternally from the chaff (the unrepentant sinner).

Perhaps these people remembered a similar warning given to their forefathers before they were taken into captivity. "For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave [them] of children, I will destroy my people, [since] they return not from their ways." (Jer 15:5-7)

The chaff will burn with an unquenchable fire. There is no device that can extinguish the torments of hell. Total and complete separation from God is a total and complete separation from all things good. Without Him there can be no relief of the pain and agony that results. The chaff will burn forever!

John's prophecy that Jesus will come and judge the world has not yet been fulfilled. Therefore it is incumbent upon us, who have received our eternal security in Christ, to warn those who have not been saved. We must bring forth fruit meet for God's children.

Before The Throne:

Pray for the people in your church to have a burden for bringing the gospel to the lost before it is too late. Pray that they would take their ministries beyond the walls of the church into the wildernesses of your area. Pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done."

For Further Study:

(v.12)
** fan. Isa 30:24; Isa 41:16; Jer 4:11; Jer 15:7; Jer 51:2; Luke 3:17; ** he will throughly. Matt 13:41, 49-50; Mal 3:2-3; Mal 4:1; John 15:2; ** and gather. Matt 13:30, 43; Amos 9:9; ** but. Job 21:18; Ps 1:4; Ps 35:5; Isa 5:24; Isa 17:13; Hos 13:3; Mal 4:1; Luke 3:17; ** with. Isa 1:31; Isa 66:24; Jer 7:20; Jer 17:27; Ezek 20:47-48; Mark 9:43-48;

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