Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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When John the Baptist came preaching, he came not so much with a final warning to Israel as with an announcement. God's warnings to Israel had all been given by prophets now long dead, many of them murdered by the very people to whom God sent them. The time had come for Him to act, and John was sent to announce that fact. Part of the message John was given for his fellow Jews was this: "And now also the axe is laid to the root of the tree. Every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire." It was time for the fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy of a twig that would spring up from David's stump, but first, the tree had to be cut down. John was sent to tell Israel that God's axe of judgment was already being wielded against them and that their only hope of survival was repentance. "And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."
The Psalmist spoke of the plant that God had taken from Egypt and planted in the Promised Land. Now, God's new messenger was announcing that the tree of Israel, corrupted by pride and stubbornness, would be chopped down. John's preaching was not a warning as much as it was an announcement that the process of God's destruction of the tree had already begun, and that the Branch would soon spring up. "There cometh one after me", he proclaimed, "mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose." That other one was Jesus, the Branch, of whom not only Isaiah but the ancient prophets Zechariah, and Jeremiah also spoke:
"Behold the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, and this shall be his name whereby he shall be called: The Lord our righteousness" (Jer. 23:5-6).
"In those days and at that time I will cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David, and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land" (Jer. 33:15).
"Behold, the man whose name is the Branch! And he shall, grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD" (Zech. 6:12).
Every one in ancient Israel who believed John and repented were made part of the living Branch after he ascended to the Father and the holy Ghost was poured out from heaven. And every one in Israel who refused to repent at John's message is in hell today, waiting the final Judgment to be condemned and cast into the Lake of Fire. God wasn't playing games in those long-ago days when He sent His servants to His people, and He is still deadly serious about saving the souls of a lost and dying humanity.