A Voice in the
Wilderness

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Re: Combines and Wheat (Mt13:47-50)

As we considered the separation of the weeds from the wheat, to be
burned, and see repeated the concept of "wailing and gnashing of teeth"
(Mt13:42,50); not a whole lot is said in this conjunction about the
wheat, and it's "path" to the "granary." (vs30)

Since this week's Matthew study spoke of a "combine" let's continue
with that theme. In the US and Canada (and many other countries) where
farms exist as "thousands of acres" over the years very large equipment
has been developed to deal with the labor. The term "combine" came
about when a single machine would "combine" the tasks of "cutting,
swathing, threshing, sifting" in one operation.

When the crop is cut, it is funnelled into the "cylinder." This is a
device which spins at a very high speed, and contains "bars" which whiz
by a "beater bar" at very close range. The purpose is to "smash"
everything into tiny bits, and break the wheat kernel loose from the
husk of the head. This process is so "violent" that farmers who had
momentary lapses of carefulness have lost limbs, and sometimes their
lives, when their hand or foot has been caught in it. This cylinder/bar
combination is "adjusted" so as to separate the wheat kernels from the
chaff, without pulverizing the actual wheat kernels.

As a Christian, do you often feel "stomped" upon? In ancient times the
function of the cylinder was done by oxen "treading" the grain.
(De25:4,1Cor9:9,1Ti5:18) Paul spoke of the "sufferings of Christ" like
being "pressed out of measure, above strength; so much so that we
despaired even of life." (2cor1:5-8)

Once past the cylinder, everything is processed through the shakers. A
huge fan blows, and the sieves shake. Straw and light chaff get blown
right out the top. Other smaller items like husks, contaminants, weed
seeds, and wheat process on down through several layers of sieves.
Eventually the lighter husks, weed seeds get blown out the intermediate
layers; and the wheat, being the heaviest, passes down through all the
layers to the bottom where, hopefully, it is by itself...and gets
augered up into the hopper (storage container).

The air supply from the fan, and the sieves are all adjustable. If
there is too much wind, some of the wheat will blow out the back. If
there is not enough, some of the debris will end up in the hopper along 
with the wheat. So the farmer, while getting set up for harvest, stops 
periodically, looking on the ground behind the combine to see how much 
wheat is ending up on the ground; and compares what he sees there, with 
how "clean" the wheat in the hopper is.

Sometimes, this "balance" is such that the lighter, less-mature grains
of wheat simply cannot be accomodated, and there is no way to keep the
hopper clean, and also retain the light kernels. They must simply be 
considered part of the "loss" of the harvest.

In ancient times once the ox had treaded the husks away from the straw,
on a windy day, the pile of wheat, chaff, husks would be repeatedly
tossed in the air with large "scoops." The wind would "drive the chaff"
away. (Ps1:4)

However, if the wind was strong enough, the lighter, immature wheat
would also blow away.  Paul exhorts, "..no longer..be infants
(immature), tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of
doctrine.." (Eph4:14)

You see what the wheat must endure before ending up in the granary? Not 
only is it in peril while growing; from weeds, birds, drought, etc. But 
the harvest process is also trying. Paul speaks of our works being 
"revealed. For the Day shall declare it." (1Cor3:13) If you thought 
that the Christian life is "sunshine and roses" and everything is 
"happy as a lark" with a life of ease as you simply go to church to 
"Praise the Lord" and get all "pumped up" ...think again!! EVERY KERNEL
of wheat that makes it into the granary goes through this same process.
Jesus said, "in this world you SHALL have tribulation." (Jn16:33)

Our wills must be broken through the cylinder as we learn, "not my will
but Yours be done." (Lk22:42) And all along the way we are blown,
shaken, dropped, shaken some more, blown on again, and fall again;
experiencing God's "disipline" of which "all" are partakers. (Heb12:8)
"..for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom
He receives." (vs6)

However, this process is not a random willy-nilly thing. The Lord 
"adjusts" that cylinder and those sieves "just right." (Heb12:10) 
Typically, the hired hand/s do not make such critical adjustments. The
harvest and the "profit" for the year are too much at stake. While the
hired hand will drive the combine (angels Mt13:41), the Farmer,
Himself, (13:3,18,30,37,41) makes the adjustments, and crawls around
behind to see how much is escaping out the back. Or how many kernels
were crushed by the cylinder. The Farmer is "experienced" in these
matters. He "will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able"
(1Cor10:13) because He has experienced it "in all points just as we
are" (Heb4:15) as we follow in His example. (1Pt2:21-24)

He "chastens" us "for our profit, that we might be partakers of His 
holiness." (Heb12:10) Truly, it is not always "joyous." But in the end 
"it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are
exercised by it..." (vs11) Thus, we can entrust our souls to our
"Shepherd and Overseer."(1Pt2:25)

Amen!