The Divine Lumberjack (Feller of Trees)

The Divine Lumberjack (Feller of Trees)

Robert Wurtz II


Behold, the Lord, The LORD of hosts, Will lop off the bough with terror; Those of high stature will be hewn down, And the haughty will be humbled. He will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, And Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One (Isaiah 10:33-34).



“To which of the trees in Eden will you then be likened in glory and greatness? Yet you shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the depths of the earth; you shall lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with those slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude,’ says the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 31:18). 


“And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:9).



Unlike much of the preaching today that comforts the comfortable, John the Baptist shocks the people with an Old Testament-style warning that the ax of God’s judgment is laid already to the root of their individual lives. This is why he was so unpopular, unlike many of the ministers today who are so famous they are practically celebrities. Was Paul a celebrity? Was Peter a celebrity? How about Steven? Something is very wrong here. Yet John the Baptist emphasized the danger the people were in by using the Greek word ede or in English, now… as in “right now the ax is laid to the root of your tree.” He provoked a crisis and alarm by raising the concern among the people regarding their lifestyles and behaviors. In other words, their fruits. This method was highly effective in bringing about the intended result, but John was hated for it.


Men as Trees


In ancient times, God frequently used the metaphor of trees to illustrate people. Nebuchadnezzar was a king pictured as a great tree that supplied resources and protection to those under it. That “tree” was cut down to the stump as a judgment for his pride (Daniel 4:20ff). Isaiah 10:33-34 warns of God “topping the tree” (as we would say in modern times) of the haughty—a way of saying that He would cut them down to size. Then there is Ezekiel who deals with the proud king of Egypt who God was about to cut down and shock the world with the rumble of its crash and fall. Were these men unique cases? Did God only despise pride in ancient times?


am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images (Isaiah 42:8).


If there is one thing that God has never tolerated (because it is so unlike His character) it is pride and arrogance. There is not a created being yet who has not learned this lesson the hard way. God hates pride and judges those who walk in it (Job 40:12, Psalm 101:5, Proverbs 6:17; 21:4, James 4:6, 1Peter 5:5). Repentance always begins with humbling ourselves before God. This is what John the Baptist was referring to when he expected fruits worthy of repentance. The people needed to confess their sins (the ultimate means of humbling a person) and submit to God. They needed a change in their root system and where it sourced its resources. They needed rebirth. This is a transformation from being a thorn-bearing tree to a fruit-bearing tree. This process was the only thing that would remove the ax from their root. The first fruit they needed to produce was the fruit of repentance. After that… the fruit of the Spirit.


The Pride of Life


I was recently watching a clip of a famous prosperity preacher selling the people on the path to prosperity. He had thousands of people watching his live stream. You know why? Because that message tickles the ears and appeals to peoples’ pride. Understand that John the Baptist would never have thousands of viewers on a live stream. Instead of promoting wealth, he gave direct instructions to the people (who were baptized unto repentance) dealing directly or indirectly with their possessions. Repentance meant being content with wages or giving away that extra coat. Why? Two reasons. The god of mammon ruled most peoples’ lives and one cannot serve both God and mammon. Second, wealth is frequently used as a measuring rod for a person’s affluence or position in society. It is hard to find a person who is both rich and humble. What is God going to do with ministers who promote a message opposite of John the Baptist?


Paul asked a riveting question of the Corinthians, “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). This is true in the churches regarding spiritual gifts, and it is true of anything we possess materially or talent-wise in this life. It is God who has made us and not we ourselves (Psalm 100:3). Therefore, we must walk in humility in this life to avoid the ax of God’s dealings. He will fell us like trees if we don’t repent. It is a light thing for God to bring a person down all the way to the stump. 


A Warning to Leaders


“The need for a warning against hubris in the Western church has seldom if ever been more urgent than today. Churches and their leaders may not gloat over their influence or achievements without suffering divine fury, just as the pharaohs and emperors of the world did.” – Daniel I Block (1997)


I sometimes wonder why God has allowed or sent this pandemic into the world. What is He telling us? What is the message we are supposed to be learning from all of this? Think of all the churches that have shut down and are being forced closed even today in America. Judges issuing rulings forcing churches closed. Why? What is God trying to tell us? Is He telling us that the ax is laid to the root of the trees? 




If the three passages I quoted above tell us anything, we are made to see that God will not tolerate self-exaltation. God will not tolerate “rock-star” ministers and leaders who the people follow as if they were gods. This is the danger. Avoiding being lifted up with pride and falling into the snare and condemnation of the devil (1 Timothy 3:6). God is wanting a nameless and faceless generation that walk in the reality of Philippians 2:5f to carry on His work. TV celebrity preachers may very well be a thing of the past. God is looking for humble people who don’t need their name in lights or on the side of a tour bus. 


Leave Just the Stump  





Popularity and power (leading to pride) destroy people who fail to find a place of humility. It destroyed Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Egypt, Satan, and a host of others. The ax is laid to the root of all trees (people) in the event they are exalted in pride. God is the divine lumberjack—the feller of trees. This is the lesson Nebuchadnezzar learned when God cut him down to a mere stump. It took seven years of terror and insanity to purge the pride from him, but he finally figured it out. His testimony?


“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37)


Perhaps God is about to cut down a great many trees in this land and leave just the stump. The Rev. “Elvis'” of the world who divide the worship and glory between them and God are about to “leave the building” if the Old Testament and New Testament indicators are of any light on the subject. May God send an army of no-names going forth doing exploits in these last days. People we have never heard of and will never know their names. I suggest that in this crisis hour, absolute humility and meekness is the recipe for our times. Why?


Behold, the Lord, The LORD of hosts, Will lop off the bough with terror; Those of high stature will be hewn down, And the haughty will be humbled. He will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, And Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One (Isaiah 10:33-34).

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