Thursday, December 01, 2016

Jesus the winnower

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Matthew 3:1-12

TO CHEW ON: “‘His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly cleanse out His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’” Matthew 3:12

As we enter the month where we celebrate Jesus’ birth, John the Baptist’s cry alerts us to the fact that Jesus came not just as a baby, meek and mild. The actions John describes Him doing (for we come to see that John here refers to Jesus) are “winnowing”—a harvest activity that separates the valuable (grain) from the worthless (chaff).

[Winnow: blow a current of air through grain to remove the chaff; remove chaff from grain; remove (people or things) from a group until only the best ones are left; find or identify (a valuable or useful part of something).]

Winnowing was the action Jeremiah described God performing on Judah as a result of King Manasseh’s sin:

“And I will winnow them with a winnowing fan in the gates of the land;
I will bereave them of children;
I will destroy My people,
Since they do not return from their ways” - Jeremiah 15:7.

Isaiah predicted Israel would be God’s tool to thresh and winnow the nations:
“Behold I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; …
You shall winnow then, the wind shall carry them away” - Isaiah 41:15,16.

Malachi speaks of a day of when, after the winnowing is done,  the extraneous parts of the harvest (stubble) will be burned in judgement;
“For behold the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
But all the proud, yes all who do wickedly shall be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up …
But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings…” Malachi 4:1,2.

So let’s remind ourselves—as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth—of John the Baptist’s image of Jesus the winnower (predicted in the apocalyptic literature of the Old Testament hundreds of years earlier). Yes, Jesus came as a vulnerable, innocent, soft and cuddly baby but it was to fulfill a mission that was going to disrupt life and even prove deadly.

Dear Jesus, thank You for coming as a baby to winnow out good from evil. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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