Practical Proverbial, from Matthew, 26 January 2023. Today’s topic: Winnowing

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11

John the Baptist uses another metaphor to tell the Pharisees and Sadducees to get their act together.

These days, farmers harvest wheat with giant threshing machines.   They drive into a field of ripe wheat and, when they leave, the field is harvested.   Machines cut down the plants, shake out the wheat kernels, crush up the remains, and discard the chaff onto the field.   There, it rots into the ground and is tilled under next season.  In fact, the invention of threshing machines (in the 1800s) revolutionized society.   Around the same time, equipment was invented to produce fine flour.  For the first time, bread and wheat products could be mass-produced because processing became easier.   In a proof that capitalism succeeds, larger amounts of food became more available (and cheaper) to more people, which increased populations, productivity, wages, and improved nutrition (and public health) while reducing waste and effort:  all because someone (Cyrus McCormick) invented a machine that made it easier to harvest wheat. 

That’s not how it was in John the Baptist’s time.   With the process being entirely manual, large amounts of grain couldn’t be grown.  Before threshing machines, wheat had to be harvested by hand.   Workers would use scythes to cut the wheat, which was gathered into sheaves, then brought into barns to dry.  After drying, the wheat had to be winnowed.  This was usually done on a threshing floor, which was a flat structure specifically built for processing grain.   People used large, pointed winnowing forks to separate the wheat.   They would also beat it, releasing the kernels, which were then shaken and filtered.   This released remaining middlings (wheat husks) and chaff, which were then gathered up and burned.  All of this, while necessary, was inefficient, expending great effort and waste just to harvest a limited amount of grain.

Now, go beyond the metaphor.  Imagine people being a wheat crop, then imagine the end of time, when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead.   Picture Him separating those who believed in Him from those who didn’t:  just like winnowing grain on the threshing floor.   Or being processed through a threshing machine.   It’s pretty intimidating, maybe even terrifying.  If you are the desired crop – the wheat-crop of believers – you’re kept and made into something new and wonderful.   If you’re the undesired leftovers – unbelievers – you’re destined for fire, thrown out to be burned.

What’s your option?   The same as the one John the Baptist implored to the Pharisees and Sadducees:   repent and believe.   Give your life and everything you are over to Jesus and follow Him.   Do it now, while we grow in the field.  When the harvest comes, who will you be?

For more reading:  Isaiah 4:4, Mark 1:4 & 8, Acts 2:3-4, Matthew 3:12

Lord, I believe in You alone!   I want to be in Your good crop.

Published by aspiringwriterdt

It's about's about the life He gives's about going day by's about you. It's not about me.

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