God looked upon the Israelites and called them to be His special people, His own. Over and over again, He told them, I am the Lord thy God. The first three commandments God gave to Moses for His children, in Exodus 20, are:
“I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
“You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:2-5
Even with these commandments carved in stone, the Israelites had idols and worshiped them, not just once, but many times. Their reasons for doing this spoke of their disobedience to God. God could not turn away from their sin. He would judge their iniquities and bring punishment. If the current generation died, having never received punishment for their sins, the children or grandchildren, even beyond, would be the ones punished for the iniquities of their ancestors.
Therefore they shall be like the morning mist
or like the dew that goes early away,
like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor
or like smoke from a window. Hosea 13:3
blown away by the wind
Chaff is the part of grain that is beaten out (winnowed) before taking up the wheat, rye, barley, etc., to make into flour. Chaff does not become part of anything we eat. It is threshed up and into the air, taken away from the wheat by the wind and then burned.
Although the children of God were disobedient at times, in the natural world, they might have thought that the morning clouds would bring rain to their parched lands, but the rain did not always come. When the early dew settled upon the grass, it often would be evaporated by the hot sun, leaving no moisture for the earth. Finally, this passage says they are as the smoke, presumably offensive, quickly dissipated into the air. God saw the children as the chaff when they disobeyed, light and not worth keeping. He would have to winnow them as wheat, being driven away from the threshing floor.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11-12
a stalk of grain from which the kernels have been beaten out
straw broken up by a threshing machine, chaff
Jesus tells us that one day, He will come to the threshing floor to separate the wheat from the chaff. There will be a purging. The last judgment will consist of winnowing—distinguishing doctrines and works, saints and sinners. There will be some, maybe many, among us who look like wheat yet are chaff. There may be those in the church who believe they are “good enough” and that this winnowing does not apply to them. It is not our works or how good we are that, alone, are counted, but do our hearts belong to Jesus? The heart must be completely His. The soul must seek God Who calls. The body, mind, and soul must draw near to God for He will draw near to us. Jesus teaches us that He will gather His wheat after winnowing all of us on the threshing floor. The true believers are valuable and useful, ones made of substance, whereas those who would be considered the chaff are useless, worthless to His Kingdom, light and able to be carried about in the wind to doctrines and to people who are not of the One and Only True God.
…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
The chaff will be burnt up.
At the time of winnowing/judgment, the wheat will be brought into the barn where the true believers will be safe, together, completely separated from all that is not of God, and will be purified.
We live together in this world, the wheat and the chaff, and must discern the difference. Which am I? is a question needed to be asked.
Father God, I pray that as I walk the remainder of my days here on this earth, I will be as wheat to You and not as chaff. May I not be easily blown away as I once was. I am so grateful to You, LORD, for forgiving me of my sins and my disobedience. I so desire to be worthy of You. May I be of use to You in this world now and always forever after. Use me as I am, growing me as I learn from You. May my presence in this world be of value to Your Kingdom now. I so love You and want to walk worthy of You in my speech, my behavior, my actions, through who I am and in the ways others see me. I want to grow more and more into the image of Christ, Your Son. Guide me and teach me in ways You want me to go, LORD. I pray in the powerful Name of Jesus. Amen.