Anglican Morning Devotion for 15 March 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; 16John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: 17Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. 18And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.” (Luke 3:15-18; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
It is the indelible seal of the Christian character that separates the righteous from the unrighteous in the eyes of God. The chaff of the wheat or corn is not the worthy part. In fact, it is useless enough to be burned at harvest time while the lesser product of grain is preserved in warehouses. But does the owner of the vineyard sit down and separate the husks from the grain? No! He cannot. That is the work of the Holy Ghost represented by the wind that blows away the chaff leaving the grain to return to the granary. By what means is this accomplished, you may ask?
While living in the Far and Middle East, I witnessed this process many times over. The harvest of wheat or rice is gathered from the fields and dried if necessary. It is then carried to an open space over which the wind freely blows. The farmer then takes a tool called a “tribulum” – usually a large, three-pronged wooden fork – shovels up the grain and husks and pitches them up into the wind. The lighter husks and chaff will be blown away by the wind, but the grain will fall directly back to the harvest floor. The term ‘tribulation’ is a derivative of the name of this tool. The wind is representative of the work of the Holy Spirit in separating out the wheat from the chaff: the etymology of the term is defined (in etymonline) as:
TRIBULATION (n.) “a state of affliction or oppression, suffering, distress,” c. 1200, from Old French tribulacion (12c.), from Church Latin tribulationem (nominative tribulatio) “distress, trouble, affliction,” noun of action from past-participle stem of tribulare “to oppress, afflict,” a figurative use by Christian writers of Latin tribulare “to press,” also possibly “to thresh out grain,” from tribulum “threshing sledge,” from stem of terere “to rub” (from PIE root *tere- (1) “to rub, turn”) + -bulum, suffix forming names of tools.
The point of our Lord’s illustration resides in the One who separates the sinner from the elect. It is not the Church, nor the minister, nor the committed Christian that determines the lost from the saved – that remains the work of the Holy Ghost. It is that Wind to which our Lord makes reference in His late night meeting with Nicodemus: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8) Who controls the Wind (Holy Spirit of God)? Can we judge the heart of man, or do we judge only by the outward appearance? Can we know if a desperate sinner today may be a strong witness for Christ tomorrow owing to the inner working of the Holy Spirit? God judges the end from the beginning, but man only judges the present condition.
After this life comes the judgment: “…He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:37-43)
In our Christian walk, if we are true to our Lord and our own hearts, we will face trials and tribulations. This is not a punishment, but a refinement of character and identity in Christ. I remind you of the words of Paul: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the
cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Continue to persevere, or be counted among those of whom Hosea spoke: “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind:” (Hosea 8:7)