Discerning Times and Seasons
There is nothing magic about 12:01 am on January 1st. God is not dictated to by the calendar that man creates. While it is the beginning of the new year of 2018 for us who use the Gregorian calendar, the Jewish new year of 5778 began on the evening of September 20, 2017. So, from a biblical standpoint, we have been in a new year since September. Scripturally speaking, God operates in “times and seasons” (Ecc. 3:1) but, there are times when His divine providence lines up with our calendar and we enter in to His times and seasons.
This is why we begin to listen so attentively to the Holy Spirit as we approach the change of years. We are trying to ascertain what the season of the Lord is. We are leaning in closely for prophetic direction to prepare and position us to walk uprightly in the coming days.
God Is Progressive
Each year I hear such variance in what representatives of the Body of Christ say that the Lord has said to them regarding an approaching year. Sometimes it is more than variance, sometimes it is dissonance. We also release “words” that can be disjointed with little or no continuity from the previous year, making God appear like He is schizophrenic. But I have found that God speaks in sentences. He is forming paragraphs. He is revealing complete thoughts. It may take multiple “words” or years before we understand what he is saying and doing, but He is progressive. “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little” (Isa. 28:10).
This is how God framed this coming year to me. He has initiated a season of The Threshing Floor for His people. But, it has not appeared randomly or haphazardly. It has followed progressively what He has been doing in the most recent years. In 2015 God told me He was re-establishing His Plumb line in His people and in Church. In 2016 He told me we had entered a season of Confirmation where He was going to begin to sovereignly bear witness of what was and wasn’t acceptable to Him. Last year, in 2017, it was going to be a year of Polar Opposites, because the elevation of truth was also going to bring a revelation of error. People would be looking at the same thing and reaching two entirely different conclusions because of how they responded and related to truth. You see, truth & light not only unites, it also divides.
A Season of Threshing and Winnowing
The Significance of The Threshing Floor
There is such important scriptural and prophetic significance surrounding the threshing floor. Ruth, who is a type of the church, received the promise of betrothal from Boaz as her kinsman redeemer, who is a type of Christ in the scriptures (Ruth 3:6-15). She presented herself to him on the threshing floor after his work threshing and winnowing the grain was complete.
Solomon’s Temple, the house of God, was built on the very spot of a threshing floor that King David purchased from Ornan (Araunah) the Jebusite (2 Chron. 3:1). Previously, David built an altar to the Lord there to stop the judgement of God against Jerusalem and God answered him at the threshing floor (2 Sam. 24:15-25, 1 Chron. 21:14-28). But that was not the first time God had tested His people at that place. This was Mount Moriah, it was the place where God tested Abraham’s heart and asked him for Isaac as a sacrifice (Gen. 22:2-14). God was looking for something in Abraham and used great testing to reveal it. Even as God dealt with Abraham’s outer man, he yielded to the process and built an altar and worshipped God.
Both historically and symbolically the judgement of God and the purifying process is associated with the threshing floor. God struck Uzzah at Nachon’s threshing floor for taking hold of the things of God incorrectly (2 Sam. 6:6-7). Jesus himself spoke of the work of the Holy Spirit to identify and separate the wheat from the chaff in final judgement. “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Mt. 3:12).
It is clear that a separation will occur at final judgement, but what of the separating, purifying work of the Lord in the lives of His people and His church before His return? Is He not at work cleansing and preparing His bride, removing spot and blemish with the “washing of water by the Word” (Eph. 5:26-27)? If His return is near as many believe, wouldn’t the purifying process intensify? We must not relegate His threshing and winnowing of His people to an end time judgement only. There is an outer man, a carnal man, a “husk” that must be dealt with and removed to reveal the inner man, the “kernel”.
God Is After Something
What powerful imagery the Lord uses to help us see and understand. When Jesus spoke of the process of revealing the glory of God, He said it required that the outer be subjected to a process that revealed the inner. “But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (Jn. 12:23-24).
There are two important aspects that must not be overlooked here. First, the process was a violent separation – death. Secondly, though the word “grain” is used twice in this passage, the first word means the whole kernel with the outer shell and the second word means fruit. Or in other words, that which is produced after the outer is removed.
The Removal of The Outer
A dying process is one way to accomplish that, but the scriptures reveal others. God uses tribulation, difficulty and challenges to perfect and reveal the inner man. Paul references this twice in the same chapter. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So, then death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4:7-12).
Why is God allowing or initiating these circumstances? He is after a removing of the outer and a revealing of the inner man. “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:18). Though these two passages may not use the term “threshing or winnowing”, it is in essence the same process.
The threshing floor involved two processes to separate the inner kernel from the outer unusable covering and both were violent. First there was either pressure applied to the stalk and the husk by trampling or beating. This broke the grain away from what held it and caused it to move deep below the surface threshing to protect what was precious from actual damage. Secondly, was a winnowing process of repeatedly tossing the grain into the air and allowing it to fall hard to the immovable surface of the floor. This not only further separated the chaff from the actual wheat grain by repeated impact, but amazingly used the wind to blow the lighter, worthless shell away. The weightier, inner, wheat grain would begin to appear and gather. This was the real harvest and what the planting, watering, tending and threshing process all was for.
The Season Before Us
Beloved, there is much error, immaturity and carnality in the church and the people of God today. Race and politics separate us. We have elevated positions, titles and even the very country we live in to a place of worship. We are enmeshed and intermingled with the very things we are called to speak against and our witness has lost its credibility. The world needs to see and experience the life of Christ and truth from an inner man, but a carnal outer shell is in the way.
We have entered a season of The Threshing Floor. Actually, it began earlier last year. God is after something in us and He is both allowing and initiating circumstances in our personal lives, the church and even this country to deal with the husk that in is His way and separate it from us.
There will be times this year that the circumstances of our lives, the church and this country will appear violent as God tosses us again and again into the wind of the Holy Spirit to separate us from what must be revealed and removed. Our repeated impacts against the immovable truth of God will cause a breaking. It will appear as judgement, but His purpose is not vindictive, it is redemptive. It will work for our good, if and as we yield to Him in the process and genuinely worship Him right there as Abraham and David did.
Build Him An Altar
How perfect God is in His ways. The first reference in scripture to a threshing floor is associated with offering and worship. May we embrace the work of the threshing floor and the Lord’s winnowing in our lives and in the church in this season.
“Again, the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land to which I bring you, then it will be, when you eat of the bread of the land, that you shall offer up a heave offering to the LORD. You shall offer up a cake of the first of your ground meal as a heave offering; as a heave offering of the threshing floor, so shall you offer it up” (Num. 15:17-20).