The Threshing Floor

A symbol of the judgment - separating the wheat from the chaff.

The prophet Hosea said, “Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window” (Hosea 13:3). And the prophet Yirmeyahu gave a similar message, “For thus says the HaShem, the Elohim of Yashar'El: the daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time when it is trodden; yet a little while and the time of her harvest will come” (Yirme'yahu 51:33). And David said that the ungodly “are like the chaff which the wind drives away” (Tehilim 1:4 also Ysha'Yah 17:13).

There are dozens of references to a “threshing floor” in the Bible, some literal and some symbolic. In biblical days there was no machinery, so after the harvest, the grain was separated from the straw and husks by beating it manually.

First there had to be a flat surface that was smooth and hard, and this was known as the threshing floor. The process of threshing was performed generally by spreading the sheaves on the threshing floor and causing oxen and cattle to tread repeatedly over them, loosening the edible part of cereal grain (or other crops) from the scaly, inedible chaff that surrounds it (Devarim 25:4; Ysha'Yah 28:28).

On occasion, flails or sticks were used for this purpose (Ruth 2:17; Ysha'Yahu 28:27). Then winnowing forks were used to throw the mixture into the air so the wind could blow away the chaff, leaving only the good grain on the floor.

Both the Old and New Testaments refer to the threshing floor as a symbol of judgment. Hosea prophesied that, because Yashar'El has repeatedly turned from Yahuah Elohim to false idols, His judgment upon them would scatter them to the winds as the chaff from the threshing floor.

“Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window” (Hosea 13:3). 

Yirmeyahu pronounces a similar fate on the Babylonians who persecuted Yashar'El, likening their fate to the trampled sheaves on the threshing floor (Yirmeyahu 51:33).

Yohanan the Baptist uses the imagery of the threshing floor to describe the coming Messiah who would separate the true believers from the false. The true followers of Christ will be gathered into the kingdom of Elohim just as grain is gathered into barns, while those who reject Messiah will be burned up “with unquenchable fire,” just as the worthless chaff is burned (Mattith'Yahu 3:12; Luqas 3:17).

The wicked are often described as chaff that the wind drives away (Tehilim 1:4; Ysha'Yah 17:13). Similar imagery of the good grain being separated from the worthless weeds appears in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Mattith'Yahu 13:36–43).


The Sovereign Right To Thresh

We need, as Paul says, to consider the kindness and the severity of HaShem. The motif of sifting the wheat from the chaff reappears in the last supper. Messiah turns to Simon, the one on whom he was counting to feed his sheep, and says:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.” (Luqas 22:31-32)

We have an enemy who seeks our destruction. But more wonderfully, we have the Messiah himself on our side! The King is rooting for us, interceding for us, and is our ever present help in times of trouble. 

Messiah came as the suffering servant, he paid for our sin out of the purest most selfless love the universe has ever known. He has extended grace upon grace, and made a way open to the Father – while we were still sinners. As someone once said, the gospel is the only story in which the hero dies for the villain!

The King didn’t only die for sinful Christians, but also for Muslims, for Hindus, atheists, witches, Buddhists, for those in the LGBTQ community (and any other letters I’ve missed out), the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker… absolutely anyone who repents of their sin and believes on his name is welcomed into the Kingdom. The sacrifice of Yahuah’s own Son, the shed blood of the Messiah, is mighty to save.

But our window of opportunity to accept this amazing grace is not eternal. Judgement Day will surely come, as he graciously warns us. And the righteous judgement of the Yah is a good thing, as the songs in the book of Revelation declare.

 "Finally evil is finished and dealt with forever."

Therefore just as the weeds are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks and those who practice lawlessness.

They will throw them into the fiery furnace; in that place will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

He who has ears, let him hear! (Mattith'Yahu 13:40-43)

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