A Generation of Vipers
"'So he (Jesus) began saying…“You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire"' (Luke 3: 7-9).
Since myrrh symbolically represents tears of repentance, and has a very unique quality when burned by fire, it also has significance in relationship to the book of Joel and The Day of the Lord. The formation of myrrh is produced by a process of internal attrition, a hollowing out, like as our displacement allows Christ to enlarge within us. Myrrh is our personal residue; the cremated ashes of what remains of self life. The phoenix that is to arise from these ashes now lay at the base of our heart.
We have endured the Dark Night of the Soul, the fiery furnace of affliction, and we are now one with our consuming fire of a God; we have so taken on the nature of our Lord that we even expand and bloom in the conflagration (myrrh comes in tears or drops of resin which respond differently than other resins to fire; whereas other resins melt or liquefy when heated up, myrrh expands and blooms). Our tender Lord treasures our tears, but only wise men present them in the proper form of myrrh. Myrrh is not symbolic of tears alone, but is symbolic of what they produce: godly sorrow not to be repented of. Myrrh, like genuine sorrow, forms within the heart of trees; likewise, we as trees of righteousness must be genuinely sorry from the heart if we are to produce a final judgment that is fireproof, a repentance not to be repented of! Tears and sorrow do more than purify, they kill; if we will, however, allow ourselves to be forever drowned by the flood (where God sits as King forever) we will forever remain baptized, forever placed into His death, and thus forever fireproofed.
The clarion call, the intensity of Joel’s voice, is so certain and strong as ought to have invoked much fear and trepidation within the elders of his day; unfortunately, they remained fast asleep, and were permanently laid to rest, while destruction and mayhem practically gnawed on their carcasses. Their day and their father’s day saw nothing as ominous as the Day of the Lord that was fast approaching them and their sons, but the suggestion here is that they were complicitous (as we are today while our Day of the Lord fast approaches).
The three generations mentioned in verse three, proceeded by the elder’s generation and the generation of their fathers, seems to tie them into God’s warning of judgment or punishment: “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations (Exodus 34:6-7, parts).” Indeed, John the Baptist and even Christ Himself did not mince words with the elders of Israel, calling them, on several occasions, a “brood of vipers.”
They were the trustees of eternal life; they were the trumpet blowers that ought to have diligently kept the people alert and spiritually alive. Thus, God’s judgment or indictment was harsher for them than others. Likewise, when Christ railed against the scribes and Pharisees, His mercy had already been stretched to the breaking point, and imminent wrath was all that could be expected now. If you still have any illusions about what God’s love looks like, then read the entire chapter of Matthew 23—it is a scathing indictment against the scribes and the Pharisees; here are verses 32-33: "Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?”