“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. Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for out father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7-10, NASB).
This declaration was made by John the Baptist when the religious leaders came to be baptized by him. John warned them that they weren’t repenting and looking for a Savior as he was preaching. They didn’t think they needed saving and so they were just being baptized because it was the religious thing to do!
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another” (Zechariah 7:9, ESV).
In 518 BC after reconstruction of the Temple was started but before its completion the people of Bethel sent representatives to Zechariah in Jerusalem to ask whether they should continue to perform ritual fasts commemorating the destruction of the Temple since the Temple was now being rebuilt.
“We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this” (Ezra 10:1-2, ESV).
In 539 BC King Cyrus of Persia captured Babylon and soon thereafter issued a proclamation freeing the Israelites in Babylonian captivity to return to their homeland. The first wave of exiles returned to Jerusalem and started rebuilding the temple in 536 BC and construction was completed in 516 BC.
“‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ This is the declaration of the Lord God. ‘Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?'”
Sometimes people think that God is somehow out to get them.
In Chapter 18 the prophet Ezekiel provides a highly detailed explanation to refute the notion that God punishes the innocent for the sins of others. Ezekiel clarifies that each individual bears personal responsibility for his or her own sin (see also 33:7-20).