"His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:12 NASB)
I included this verse in the last post, but did not address it, so for #6 we must speak on this at least a few moments. First recall that the speaker of this verse is John the Baptist and the subject of his speaking is Jesus Christ. John is basically introducing Jesus. He begins by saying He would baptize with the Holy Spirit and Fire, and now he is speaking of Jesus thoroughly clearing His threshing floor. I have written on this in the past (November 2007) but I would like to visit it again today.
First, let’s be clear what is being spoken of in this verse. John is speaking on the judgment, very similar to Jesus' teaching on the sheep and the goats later in Matthew, or the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, or even the preceding verses speaking of the axe being at the root of the tree. When John is speaking about the clearing of the threshing floor, he is speaking about judgment day. Now realizing that John is speaking of the judgment and Christ’s role in it, let’s see what this verse actually means.
The winnowing fork was a tool used for separation of wheat and chaff, the metaphor is clear to be the saved and damned respectively. Whose hand is the fork in? Jesus, holds the fork, in other words it is Jesus that will do the separating, the entire judgment rests on the shoulders of Jesus and He will perform the separation on that day. Can you see why John considered himself unworthy to remove His sandals?
The threshing floor, is simply the place where threshing or separation of wheat and chaff occurs, this is in reference to the judgment seat of Christ. One thing that needs to be noted here is that the threshing floor will be thoroughly cleared, no one will escape, and no one will be missed. If you are a genuine believer this is a great hope, because no true believer will be forgotten, and at the same time no unbeliever will be missed. The threshing floor will be entirely cleared.
Of course the final aspect of this verse is that the wheat, or believers, will be gathered into the barn or heaven, and the chaff or unbelievers will be cast into unquenchable fire, or hell. Did you notice who casts the chaff into the fire? It is Jesus himself who does the casting.
Recognize this whole post has been very basic teaching, and none of it should be a surprise, but sometimes stating the obvious is important. Moreover, look at the preceding verses about the axe being at the root of the tree and you will see that fruit is the condition of the destiny of the tree. Moreover, the very thought that the threshing floor will be thoroughly cleared ought to disallow you to be silent concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This post was very basic, but likely necessary.
Just as a personal note, I am finding going through the Gospel and writing on it this way to be very refreshing as opposed to firing at various topics. I can understand why many push for expository preaching as opposed to topical preaching, it actually captures the flow and context of scripture as it was written. Topical preaching can take a thousand verses out of context to serve some topical purpose without ever approaching the true meaning of the verses.