The Threshing Floor

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Threshing FloorToday I read about the consequences of David’s numbering the people in 1 Chronicles 21:1-17. When the prophet Gad confronts David with his sin, he offers David three choices of punishment: famine, attack by his enemies, or the Angel of the Lord bringing a plague of judgment. David chose the third option, because he reasoned that only God was likely to be merciful.

When David pled with God for mercy over Jerusalem, he saw the Angel of the Lord with drawn sword standing at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. The Lord told him to build an altar there, which David did, and when he called on the Lord, the Lord sent fire from heaven to consume the offering and the plague was stayed.

The picture of God’s dealing with David at the threshing floor is so powerful that I began to wonder about the special significance of threshing floors. And indeed, we can find a pattern of God meeting with his people in this unlikely place:

  • When Joseph took the body of Jacob back to the family tomb in Canaan, he made a great mourning for his father Jacob at the threshing floor of Atad (Genesis 50:10-11).
  • God answered Gideon and gave him confirmation and confidence to attack the Midianites when he laid out a fleece in the threshing floor (Judges 6:37).
  • Ruth discovered the joyful protection of the kinsman redeemer when she met Boaz at the threshing floor (Ruth 3:8-13)
  • Because of David’s disobedience to the Lord’s revealed will, Uzziah was struck dead  when he reached out and touched the Ark of God at the threshing floor of Nacon (2 Samuel 6:6)
  • Jehoshaphat and Ahab were seated at the threshing floor before the gates of Samaria when Micaiah brought the the true word of God, refuted the false prophets (1 Kings 22:10)
  • God promises victory as Israel tramples their enemies on the threshing floor in Micah 4:11-13.

But the most amazing aspect of David’s interaction with the Angel of the Lord at the threshing floor of Ornan is that this location becomes the site where Solomon built the temple of the Lord (2 Chron 3:1).

Even more interesting, Ornan’s threshing floor was on Mount Moriah, the location of the present Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Many people  believe that is the place where Abraham brought Isaac to sacrifice, as God instructed him in Genesis 22:2, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Should we be surprised at God’s meeting so many of his people at a threshing floor? The threshing floor is the place where the grain–food that is life-sustaining–is separated from the chaff–that which cannot support life. However, it is not a pleasant place: there is hard labor, and dust, and crushing weight, and beating, and tossing.

But how we need the Holy Spirit to do this precious work in our own hearts, separating us from the activities and thoughts that will not sustain us in times of trouble. Here, when the turmoil is over, we find Jesus, the true Bread from Heaven. So in the times of turmoil and tossing, I will remember that God is working to remove the chaff and rejoice in the hope of the true bread of life to come when the threshing is over.

Joseph found comfort in mourning, Gideon found confidence to replace fear, Ruth found a husband and protector, David discovered the importance of obedience, Jehoshaphat and Ahab heard truth, and Israel found a place to meet God. What will you find?

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