A Lesson in Threshing - Rules or Relationships - September 2022

by Pastor Pete Panitzke on September 19, 2022

Our Old Testament lesson references “threshing,” a task familiar to every ancient farmer. It is unknown to many of us. Click here for a one minute video to watch a family thresh by hand. Threshing was the way you would separate the grain (barley and wheat in Bible times) from the stalks of grain.
Isaiah 27 & 28 speak of “that day” when the LORD will come to thresh in judgment. “Leviathan” is probably a reference to Egypt. The LORD will come in judgment on Leviathan (the enemy of God's people), but also on his “vineyard,” the Israelites, for their idolatry.
But look at Isaiah 27:12-13! 

In that day the Lord will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, Israel, will be gathered up one by one. And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.

The LORD is a careful farmer. After threshing the grain, he picks up each kernel from the threshing floor no matter where it is scattered. For the ancient Israelites, the LORD used the Egyptians and Assyrians as his threshing club who scattered them. For us, ultimately it is death. But the trumpet will sound and he will gather each of us up, one by one.  
This is the “strange work… his alien task” (28:21) that the LORD does. The LORD uses suffering and death to call his people to repentance. He knows what kind of “threshing” is necessary to bring us back to him. That’s the point of the parable of the farmer (28:23-29). The farmer knows how to plow and thresh. So does our God. In the midst of hardship, trust that your Savior knows what he is doing!
A New Testament Lesson in Threshing
Isaiah called the Israelites to repentance for making religion just a bunch of rules to follow: “Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule” (Isaiah 28:10). Paul was dealing with the same thing in the congregation in Colossae. People were saying the heart of religion was "Follow all the rules." We can fall into that as well.
The kernel of “religion” is not rules but a relationship: to know Christ in whom is all the fullness of God.
If Jesus is fully and completely God, then in him I am fully and completely saved. In Colossians 3, Paul will teach us how that does lead to a changed life. A changed life flows from salvation. It is not the cause of salvation. In Colossians 2, Paul is encouraging us to thresh through all our religious activity. All the good stuff we might do doesn’t save us. The kernel of truth is "Christ is all that we need."


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