The Bible often uses imagery taken from agriculture and the “threshing floor” is one such image that appears several times throughout the Scriptures, usually in reference to God’s judgement and/or a difficult lesson He is trying to teach someone.
An actual (as opposed to a metaphorical) threshing floor was simply a flat surface on the ground, often hewn out of a large rock or lined with bricks if they were available, in which the raw stalks of wheat, barley and other grains from the harvest would be dumped. Then animals and people would walk over the stalks and pull a heavy sled-like device over them until they’d been crushed and separated, at which point men and women would take a shovel-like tool called a winnowing fork, as well as baskets and other crude tools, and toss the wheat up in the air over and over again for hours, letting the wind carry away the lighter, non-edible husk material from off the wheat.
This is what is meant by the phrase “separating the wheat from the chaff.”
I don’t know about you, but I feel like 2020 put me through an experience similar to what the wheat in an ancient threshing floor went through, and I suspect it was done to us for the same reason. Just as a stalk of wheat must be crushed, sifted and separated from the chaff before it’s useful for anything, the Church of Jesus Christ go through the same process.
Allen Jackson, senior pastor at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro Tennessee, put it this way when he recently said;
“2020 is a gift from the Lord. He is shaking us from our slumber of comfort and convenience. We are being invited onto the stage of significance. Your persistent prayers, your expressions of humility –repentance & obedience—are creating an opportunity for God’s purposes to break forth! Do not grow weary. We are being trained in perseverance.
Despair is an enemy. The objective is to diminish and ultimately extinguish hope. Our hope is secured in a person, Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore disappointment and weariness do not steal our hope. He will renew our strength. He knows the outcome at the beginning and will all we need for the journey. GIVE THANKS!”
I couldn’t agree more.
Like many others, I spent a large portion of 2020 glued to my computer screen during lockdown/unemployment. My efforts to make good use of that time had mixed results, but one thing I can put under the category of “time well spent” was the hours I spent watching youtube videos of messages by Derek Prince, James Dobson, Zig Ziglar, Billy Graham and many others, going back decades. A point made by all of these men and woven through all their messages on various topics, was that time was short.
Derek Prince especially was adamant in making the point that the re-emergence of the Jewish State of Israel on the world stage was a sign for all to see that God’s prophetic timing was moving the human race ever closer to the hour of judgement and the “threshing floor” that we are all appointed to experience, during which the whole world, but His Church especially, would be crushed and sifted, with much chaff being separated from the “remnant” of wheat.
However, on a more cheerful note, another Biblical metaphor that was repeated often during these messages was that of the experience a woman has when she’s about to give birth to a baby. The contractions get more intense, and more frequent, the closer she comes to giving birth. The experience is physically very painful and difficult and scary but as John 16:21 so poignantly reminds us; “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.”
Brothers and sisters, I have no doubt in my mind that the moment when Jesus Christ will return to this Earth and usher in a new world is very close, even at the door. This season we’re in is painful and difficult and scary and from where I’m sitting, there’s nothing on the horizon that looks like it’s going to get any easier in 2021 and beyond, the thin reed of hope being held out by COVID-19 vaccines notwithstanding.
The best time to get serious about your walk with the Lord was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now.
With a new year on the Gregorian calendar approaching, I offer the same advice I offer every year in December, to get the One Year Bible app on your phone so that in 2021 you can join in the experience of reading the Word of God all the way through from start to finish. Get in a group of others who do the same and are serious about praying and fasting and focusing on God’s will for your lives, your community, etc.
May God give us all the strength, wisdom, discipline and stamina we’ll need to make it out of the threshing floor and enter into the reward which has been prepared for us on the other side of it.
(Here is a link to a blog I wrote about New Years Resolutions a few years ago which has links in it to the One Year Bible site and other helpful stuff.)