Tag Archives: Wheat

Separating Wheat and Chaff

Bible Reference: Matthew 3:12

In John the Baptist teaching, wheat referred to the kingdom of heaven. John the Baptist discussed separating wheat from chaff. According to John wheat will be taken into God’s storehouse while weeds and chaff are destroyed.

Wheat was the first grain identified in the Old Testament (Genesis 30.14); and one of seven species that Moses told Israelites that they would find growing in the promised land (Deuteronomy 8.8). Wheat was valued because of its high nutrition content. Although an important food source, growing, threshing, winnowing, and grinding wheat required effort.

John referred to Jesus when he said: “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather and store his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3.12 ESV).  In ancient Judea, wheat was emmer or einkorn; not the wheat grown in Israel today, nor the wheat grown in the United States.

At harvest,  men cut wheat stalks with a sickle. Farmers with livestock cut stalks close to the ground to use stalks as animal fodder. Farmers without livestock cut stalks close to the seed head to minimize amount of threshing. Children gathered stalks into bundles and took  bundles to the threshing floor, a cleared and compacted parcel of ground up to 40 feet in diameter. Sometimes, one threshing floor served an entire village.

On threshing floors, farmers used an ox-drawn disc or threshing sledge to cut wheat stalks, but not crush grain (Isaiah 28.27-28). Threshing sledges were made of wooden boards with iron or stone projections on the bottom. The projections cut the stalks and allowed grain to separate and fall to the floor. Horses or oxen pulled sledges over grain stalks spread on the threshing floor.

The farmer separated wheat kernels from chaff (dirt, grain hulls) using winnowing. Winnowing consisted of throwing the threshed materials (chaff and grain) into the air with a fork or a basket. Wind separated valuable wheat grains from chaff. Because wheat kernels were heavier than chaff, they fell to the ground or back into the basket. The lighter chaff, dirt, etc., were blown away by wind. At times, farmers used fans to create air currents to separate chaff and other impurities away from valuable wheat kernels. Often, threshing floors were located on a hill top or side to take advantage of wind currents. Finally, the grain was gathered into jars or bins for storage; chaff was burned (Matthew 3.12).

John preached personal acknowledgement and repentance of sins followed by baptism—full body emersion—in water as an outward sign of repentance. Mostly, John baptized individuals in the Jordan River.  Figuratively, the water of baptism washed sins away. John didn’t stop with a message of repentance and physical act of baptism. John exhorted those baptized to change their behavior and bear fruit consistent with repentance (Luke 3.8-14).

Reflection: God doesn’t want any individual to perish. He gives each person time to repent.  Regretfully, individuals who don’t repent and trust in Jesus as their Savior are going to be pulled up, bundled, and destroyed.

Copyright: July 24, 2018; Carolyn A. Roth

Website: CarolynRothMinistry.com

Winnowing Wheat, Winnowing Us

Girl winnowing wheat

Bible Reference: Matthew 3:12

John the Baptist parable on winnowing described separating chaff from wheat:

His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly     clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out. Matthew 3:13 The Amplified Bible.

John spoke this parable to foretell actions of the coming Messiah (Christ). John preached personal acknowledgement and repentance of sins followed by baptism—full body emersion—in water as an outward sign of repentance. The water of baptism washed sins away. John didn’t stop with his message of repentance and physical act of baptism. John exhorted those baptized to change their behavior and bear fruit consistence with repentance (Luke 3:8-14). When the baptized asked him what they should do, John’s answer wasn’t that they quit their jobs; rather in their lives and jobs, they should act honorably, treat others fairly, and share with the less fortunate. For example, John told men with two tunics to give one to the man who had none. Soldiers should stop accusing people falsely and extorting money from them.

John the Baptist spoke bluntly to the multitudes that came to him for baptism; but reserved his worst denunciations for the Jerusalem’s elite, i.e., Pharisees, Sadducees, and priests. He called them vipers (Luke 3:7). The fierceness of his words, suggests firsthand knowledge of their behavior. Perhaps, when he rotated through the Jerusalem temple as a priest, John saw the excesses, insincerity, and, yes, even corruption that infected the leaders of the Herodian-style Jerusalem temple.

Separating Wheat from Chaff

In ancient Judea, wheat kernels (seed, grain) were separated from the chaff (stalks, straw) on threshing floors. Generally, chaff was unusable except as fodder for livestock. The farmer separated the wheat kernels from the chaff using a process called winnowing. Winnowing consisted of throwing the threshed material (chaff and grain) into the air with a fork or a winnowing basket. The wind separated the valuable grains of wheat from the chaff. Because wheat kernels were heavier than chaff, they fell to the ground. The lighter chaff, dirt, etc., were blown away by the wind. At times, farmers used fans to create air currents to blow chaff and other impurities away from the valuable wheat kernels.

Application

When John the Baptists told the parable of winnowing wheat and chaff, the spiritual reality was that the coming Messiah (Christ) would distinguish or separate the righteous from the unrighteous. Christ would critically analyze peoples’ hearts, not pious actions that were outward displays for show. John said that sincere, righteous individuals – the wheat kernels—would be taken and stored in the farmer’s barn, i.e., heaven. In contrast, the chaff, those with pretend piety, will be forever burned.

Reflection: God is not going to accept any dirt, chaff or straw into his barn. Where does that leave you and me?

Check out http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com books on plants.

Copyright August 11, 2016; all rights reserved.

Weeds in a Wheat Field

Lolium temulentum var. arvenseChrist’s Parable of  Weeds in a Wheat Field is in Matthew 13:24-30.

Christ was seated by the Lake of Galilee when he told The Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:1).  The parable is one of six parables that Christ used to demonstrate the nature of the kingdom of heaven. Here is the parable: A farmer planted good wheat seeds in his field. “Good” wheat seeds meant that contaminants, e.g. weeds, wild oats, and chaff, are absent from the wheat seeds. At night the farmer’s enemy sowed weeds or tares among the wheat. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, so did the weeds. The weeds were intermingled with the wheat.

A servant told the owner about the weeds. He asked the owner if he and the other servants should pull out the weeds. The owner said “No” and explained that when the servants pull out the weeds, they could inadvertently pull up the wheat. The farmer understood that weed and wheat roots planted near each other intertwined. If weeds are removed, wheat roots and stems would be pulled up or damaged. The farmer directed the servant to let both wheat and weeds grow together until the harvest. Then, the servants could go through the fields, pull and bundle the weeds, and burn them. Wheat would be harvested and taken into the owner’s barn.

The parable demonstrated the growth of the kingdom of heaven from its original planting, through growth, to harvest. The field is the world. God, the owner, sowed good seed; individuals who were destined to followed him. The devil, the enemy, sowed weeds into the field; individuals who were against or indifferent to God’s teachings. The servants are God’s angels.  God refused to allow the angels to remove the weeds from the world because the lives (roots) of rejecters and followers are intertwined, just like the roots of weeds and wheat. 

Harvest represented the second coming of Christ. At that time, the angels are free to remove the weeds.  God rejecters will be collected like the weeds they are. They will be bundled and burned.  Then, the angels will gather God’s followers. These good plants will be brought into the storehouse of God.

Weeds, Darnel

The weed referred to in the Parable of the Weed was most likely the Lolium temulentum. This weed is also known as darnel and poison ryegrass. The darnel is indigenous to the Mediterranean region including the Middle East. Darnel infests wheat fields and other cultivated land and spreads as a contaminant of wheat. It is widely distributed in Israel to include Mediterranean woodlands and shrub lands, shrub-steppes and deserts to include extreme deserts. Even a few darnel grains can adversely affect crop quality. Darnel seeds are poisonous to people and livestock.

Symbolism: Malice, Malicious

The enemy who sowed the weeds among the good wheat was malicious. His behavior was spiteful, mean, and malevolent.  He wanted to destroy the good wheat that the farmer was growing. An Old Testament proverb focused on maliciousness:  “A malicious man disguised himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming do not believe him ….. His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly” (Proverbs 26:24-27). The proverb also teaches us how to respond to a malicious man and his ultimate outcome.   

The New Testament is contains instruction to avoid malicious behavior (Table 12.1). Christ told his disciples that what goes into a man does not make him unclean (Mark 7:17-23). Rather, what is inside and comes out determines whether a man is clean or unclean. If a person’s heart is clean, good things will come out of them. Unfortunately, if a person’s heart is unclean, he will think and spew forth all kinds of unclean words, such as evil thoughts, malice, and deceit.  Similarly, an unclean heart produces unclean living, e.g., sexual immorality, adultery, theft, murder.   

St. Paul addressed malice and malicious talk repeatedly in letters to early churches and in letters to his young protégé Timothy. Notably, Paul and Peter were both writing to believers. These two saints were exhorting believers to set aside spiteful, mean, and malevolent words. Malice can be harmful to a church; e.g., Paul wrote that a potential deacon’s wife must “not be a malicious talker” (I Timothy 3:11). Despite man’s excellent traits, e.g., sincere, temperate, honest, if his wife is a malicious talker, then the man is disqualified to be a deacon. Believers – men, women, and children – must all be attuned to what comes out of their mouths.

Table 12.1, Directions to refute maliciousness

Speaker

Direction

Scripture

Christ to his disciples

These thoughts/behaviors make a person unclean: evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly

Mark 7:20-23

Paul to the Ephesus church

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Ephesians 4:31

Paul to the Colosse church

Rid yourself of these things: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Colosians 3: 8

Paul to Timothy about deacon’s wives

Wives of church deacons should be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers, but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

I Timothy 3:11

Paul to Timothy

Paul warns that a man who teaches false doctrines and does not accept sound instruction is conceited and understands nothing.  He has an unhealthy interest in controversies, quarrels about words that end in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of corrupt minds.

I Timothy 6:3-5

Peter to Christians in Asia Minor

Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of any kind.

I Peter 2:1

Reflection. In a way it is good that the heart and our words are so closely aligned. Hearing our own malicious words can be a clue that there is something wrong with our hearts. Do you take the time to reflect on what you say?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

copyright June 6, 2013; Carolyn A. Roth

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Wheat in the Presence Bread

Wheat GrainsSuggested readings Exodus 25:23-30; Leviticus 2; Leviticus 24:5 – 9.

Fine wheat flour was used to make the loaves of bread that was placed on the Table of Presence in the Holy of Holies in the Tent of Meeting. In the Bible, the loaves are called the bread of the Presence, the Presence bread, or the Showbread. (Exodus 25:30). There was one loaf for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. The loaves represented a perpetual bread offering to God.The Presence-bread was set out in two piles of six loaves (Exodus 24: 5 – 9). Each pile was set on a solid gold plate used exclusively on the Table of the Presence. Every Sabbath a new set of 12 loaves was set out before the Lord as an everlasting covenant. The loaves that were removed from the Table belonged to Aaron and his sons who were directed to eat them in a holy place. Most likely the holy eating place was the courtyard outside the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 6:16). On the Table beside the stacks of Presence-bread, pure incense was set out. The incense was burned to represent the bread, an offering made to the Lord by fire. No part of the Presence-bread itself was ever burned.

In Old Testament times most wheat was milled into flour to make bread. Milling was a mechanical process of separating the wheat endosperm from the bran and germ. Then the wheat endosperm (starch) was ground into flour. The bread of the Presence was made with “fine flour” (Leviticus 24:5; NIV Study Bible note Exodus 2:1) which means no wheat bran or germ remained in the flour and the flour was thoroughly ground.

In most early societies, men planted and harvested wheat while women milled and baked the resulting flour into bread; however, the Kohathites (the second of Levi’ sons) were charged with baking the Presence-bread. When the Bible described the Presence-bread, it was not identified as made without yeast (unleavened). Yet, more than likely it was unleavened because all grain offerings baked in the oven and presented in the Tabernacle were required to be made without yeast (Leviticus 2:4, 11).

There are three possible sources for the wheat used to make the fine flour for the Presence-bread. First, possibly the flour came with the Israelites out of Egypt. Yet if flour was available, why did the Israelites grumble against Moses and Aaron in the Desert of Sin, complaining that they had no food (Exodus 16: 1-16)? It was in the Desert of Sin, about 2 ½ months after the Israelites left Egypt, where God began to feed the Israelites with manna. God provided manna which could be baked into a type of bread the entire 40 years the children of Israel wandered in the Sinai Peninsula.

A second source of the fine wheat flour used to make the Presence-bread could have been wild wheat. When the Tabernacle was built, the Israelites were camped at Mt. Sinai, now known as Mt. Safsafa at Wadi Raha. Mt. Safsafa is part of St. Katherine’s Municipality, South Sinai, Egypt. This area is high altitude desert (5,200 feet) and winter nights can drop to below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The St. Katherine’s area is the only place in Egypt where snow falls on a regular basis. The mountain snow melts slowly, releasing water at a steady pace, replenishing underground catchment areas. When rain falls, water flows rapidly down the barren Sinai Mountains and drenches the valleys, gullies, and wadi at the base of the mountains. Residents of St. Katherine’s Municipality reported that in older times there was at least one rainfall every 40 days and valleys were greener than present. Wild wheat and even domesticated wheat could have possibly grown in the area of Mt. Sinai. In the Mid-East wheat is planted in the fall (about November) and harvested the spring (April) . Perhaps the Israelites found wild wheat or planted winter wheat around the base of Mt. Sinai where they camped for 11 months. This wheat would not have been sufficient to feed the approximate two million Israelites, but it may have been ample to make fine flour for the Presence-bread. Further, the Israelites could have found wild wheat in various places during their 40 year journey over the Sinai Peninsula. An argument against finding wild wheat on the Sinai Peninsula is in Numbers 20:5 where the Children of Israel complained to Moses that the Peninsula has “no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates.” By this time the Israelites had wandered around  the Sinai Peninsula almost 40 years and they were very aware of its plant life.

A third possible source of fine wheat flour could have been from traders. As early as the 16th century B.C. the Sinai Peninsula was an important cross-road for traders. In the 16th century B.C., the Pharaohs built the way of Shur across the Sinai to Beersheba and into Jerusalem. Other trade routes crossed near the center of the Sinai, connecting Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula. It is possible that fine wheat grain or flour from the Nile Delta was transported along trade routes. Egypt was known to export grain (Genesis 24:3 – 5). Certainly, the Israelites had sufficient gold and silver to purchase raw grain and/or fine flour from traders (Exodus 36: 3-7).

The Wheat Plant

Research shows that cereal gatherings could have occurred as early as 17,000 B.C. in the near east. The earliest wild wheats were einkorn (Triticum boeoticum) and emmer (T. dicoccidoides) which grew in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria. Archeology records documented that wheat was domesticated prior to 7000 B.C. and grown for harvest in the Fertile Crescent and in the Nile delta region (northern Egypt). In the Bible wheat is first mentioned as harvested by Jacob in Palestine (Genesis 30: 14). Wheat is an annual crop that grows best in temperate climates. Wheat grows in about 100 days in a frost-free growing season. To obtain a good wheat crop, from 15 – 20 inches of precipitation are necessary. In areas of no more than 10 – 15 inches of precipitation, wheat is often planted every 2 years. The land is kept free of vegetation on the alternate year so moisture can accumulate in the soil. Wheat kernels consist of three parts. The outer covering (about 12%) is called bran. The center (endosperm, 85%) is composed of starch, the portion present in white flour. The inner part of the kernel (2 – 3%), called the germ (embryo) expands, or germinates, into the new wheat plant.

Symbolism: Living, Life

Wheat has been valuable to man from time immemorial and it was valuable to God who commanded that the Israelites make the Presence-bread from it. I am intrigued that God told the Israelites to bake bread weekly out of wheat, a grain that was not in large supply on the dry Sinai Peninsula. Why didn’t God allow them bake manna for the Presence-bread? Manna was plentiful and God provided a steady supply of it. Instead God required the Israelites to make an offering from wheat, a grain they had to seek during their 40 years of travels.

Just like it could have been difficulty for the Israelites to find sufficient wheat to mill fine flour for the Presence-Bread, it is sometimes difficult to walking out a Christian life. As a child in Sunday School I learned that Christ said to come to him; his burdens are easy and yoke light. At times I feel like there is a big wooden oxen yoke on my shoulders that is weighing me down. I feel like I am seeking a way to His presence that I cannot fine. I’ve come to realize that on days that I feel bone weary and weighed down, I need to go back to Matthew 11 and read exactly what Christ was telling the crowd. Matthew 11: 28 – 30 reads “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

If I want a light burden today — here in this world — I must come to Christ and learn from His life. When I study the life of Christ, I see a man who seemed to be without ego. Christ didn’t have to have His own way all of the time. He lived in the presence of his Father and did God’s will, even dying because it was God’s will. Christ described himself as gentle and humble. Gentle and humble isn’t an easy way to live. It seems counter-intuitive to many women my age who worked hard to achieve in a world geared to men. But, I’m not willing to say that Christ’s directions on how to live are wrong. And, I am reminded of St. Paul’s words, “I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1 – 2).

Reflection. I think I understand it now: To have a light, unburden life, I need to be gentle and meek as Christ was. A life such as this does not conform to the world. It is a living sacrifice – a sweet perfume – offered daily to Christ. In this new paradigm, my life becomes an offering to God much as the fine wheat Presence-bread was an offering and sacrifice to God.

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright January 25, 2011, Carolyn A. Roth; all rights reserved.

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