The Chaff, Wheat and Opportunity
Malachi 3 describes a time when God’s messenger will come to prepare the way before Him. The context is of serious judgment, preceded by a time of separation; the separation of the chaff from the wheat. Jesus made it very plain: “For judgment I have come into the world, that those who do not see might see and those who see might be made blind.”
John the Baptist’s description of this Messianic role, in God’s process of restoration, transcended Jesus’ earthly ministry to give glimpse to the unquenchable fire of separation that will come with His return.
“His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:17
Before us now, the issue extends beyond the already fulfilled coming of the Messiah, as the suffering servant, the Son of Man returns as the reigning Son of God. The judgment that will accompany His return as the Son of God is described in Revelation 21:8 when the cowardly, unbelieving, sorcerers, idolators, immoral and liars will be separated from those inheriting the Kingdom.
Malachi 3:16 refers to a book of remembrance based on those who fear and reverence the Lord, who because of this poise of their souls, God considers as His treasured possessions. The impact of this separation and judgment are captured with the words: “Then you’ll know the distinction between those who serve God and those who do not.” (Mal 3:18) Keep in mind that Malachi’s words were directed to the household of faith.
The standard for this distinction is not determined by doctrine, but by the response to the essence of who God is; followers whose lives and service have aligned to the degree of becoming reflectors of His essence, of His Light.
The second verse of this Malachi chapter underscores the seriousness of this separation and judgment: “Who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.”
The Seasons Defining the Time of the End
This time of demarcation paving the way into God’s age-old initiative of restoration of separating the righteous and the wicked is again and again described in Scripture over a long progression of seasons, from the time of Isaiah and the prophets through the authors of the New Covenant epistles: as the day of the Lord.
The time preceding the day of the Lord has had its many dimensions discerned prophetically across the centuries. The process of separating the chaff from the wheat is the most obvious. However, Daniel 12 points to dimensions so strategic, that the mandate of heaven was to seal them up UNTIL the time of the end, a time perhaps sooner than we think, a time when many would run to and fro with knowledge greatly increasing.
Within this context, Jesus additionally pointed to a time of upheaval that He referred to as the beginning of a time of sorrows. Each reference points to a time of serious spiritual adjustment and preparation for the tribulation, turmoil and events unfolding prior to the day of the Lord.
The response of those whose lives serve God versus those who do not will distinguish the chaff from the wheat.
The Requirement of Consistency in Vigilance
Hezekiah led a life and the people of God righteously through seemingly impossible situations. His track record of giving focus to reaching for God in the face of dire circumstances transitioned into a time in which, not unlike King David when the pressures had lessened, he fell prey to trusting in his own limited perceptions of what was happening around him rather than responding with the sharp, discerning, disciplined edge he had once had in reaching for more of God.
In Hezekiah’s case, he was blinded and deceived by the overtures of the enemies of God’s people whose intent sought to assess the extent of Israel’s strength. Scripture describes the dynamic that was actuated when Hezekiah let down His guard: “God left him that he might know what was in his heart.” 2 Chron 32:31, Is 39:1-9
The implication was that Hezekiah, in his slackened spiritual state, was failing to listen due to the soul issues, not the least of which was the pride of his heart blinding his perceptions. The issue speaks to the need for vigilance when the season becomes difficult to discern. It calls for greater consistency in the discipline and discernment in the maintenance we extend to seeking the Lord.
The psalms begin with the foundational criterion that distinguishes the thinking of the righteous from those who will be considered as the wicked.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2) The Passion Translation concludes this sequence with: “His pleasure and passion is remaining true to the Word of “I Am,” meditating day and night in the true revelation of light.”
Mediating on God’s word day and night was the admonition that the Lord spoke to Joshua when he took the reins of leadership of God people from Moses; indeed a hard act to follow. Being careful to follow all the revelation Moses imparted, along with meditating on it not just daily, but day and night was the foundation for maintaining the courage and strength needed to lead God’s people through the realm of the impossible. Indeed, giving focus to our pleasure and passion of remaining true to His word by meditating day and night on God’s revelatory light.
Despite his background as a trained teacher of God’s word, as a new believer Paul recognized the need for far more than he had been operating with. Following his dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he subsequently spent roughly a thousand days alone with God in Arabia, being schooled by the Spirit of God in God’s truth. It was a distinct reset from his previous foundations.
What Paul then wrote to the Thessalonians sums up the foundations needed in the life of a believer to conclude their walk of faith on the right side of the dividing line described by Malachi:
“Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. That the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; that God preserve your whole spirit and soul and body blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thes 5:20-23
Paul was saying to keep our hearts open to the revelation from the Spirit, but in doing so to test the spirits from which the revelation comes, in all matters. This proving of all things was the chink in Hezekiah’s armor in a time-frame that in reality was only allowed because of God’s acquiescent will for his life being extended into that season. Knowing the difference between God’s acquiescent will and His perfect will is vital, as it should have been to Balaam, in discerning the subtleties of decisions tied to what Scripture describes as the dividing asunder between the soul and the spirit.
This discernment of the dividing asunder is a critically subtle matter that will only manifest through consistent humility and the intentional seeking of God. It is doing so to the level that the believer knows that dimension of Him known as the “God of shalom.”
Anything less presents a gateway spiritually into what religious spirits find as a seedbed, holding the greatest potential for undermining the role of God’s leaders during subtle and critical times. It speaks to the need for spiritual maintenance, humility and vigilance in our reach for this alignment. For leaders, it is a progressive manifestation of the wisdom spoken by John the Baptist concerning his response to the One he was honored to immerse in serving as God’s Messiah: “He must increase and I must decrease.”
Many years ago, two men of God who had been used uniquely at the forefront of the revival in our city became subject to vocalizing judgmental attitudes toward the dynamics employed by much higher-level leaders in this revival. Having ignored words of warning, each suffered dire judgment as they each were removed from the esteemed mantles they had once served. It speaks to the subtleties of the intent of religious spirits and underscores Paul’s word to the Thessalonians admonishing them to prove all things with regard to prophesying, in holding fast to that which is good and in abstaining from any appearance of evil.
THIS is the foundation for which Paul describes the separation, the sanctification that comes from the Word and from the Spirit that preserves our whole spirit, soul and body blameless until the coming of the Lord.
The biblical meaning of sanctify is to “set apart,” specifically to be used for God’s purposes. Jesus, in His high priestly prayer, prayed that His followers would be sanctified in truth, because God’s word is truth. Paul explained to the Thessalonians that sanctification would come from both the washing, the cleansing from God’s word, as well as by the Spirit.
The Season of Separation and Identity
During this season of sorrows or troubles, the words of Daniel are instructive, as he prophetically spoke of those who know their God, who would be strong and do exploits. It conforms to the word God spoke in releasing Joshua into his leadership role: to be strong and courageous. For Daniel, his assignment represented a unique and high standard for these times of separation, marking those with high callings, chosen to be an influence for God in the inner-circles of pagan, occult rulers.
As it was for Daniel, so it will be for those prepared in what again and again Scripture refers to as the time of the end, as a time of separation for those who fear God, who truly know and serve Him.
What was unique about Daniel over the course of his life, within the context of his assignment in the occult-controlled court of the King, was his consistency in his identity in God. He always brought the Lord to the forefront.
During his life and death exchange with Nebuchadnezzar in revealing to the king not just the interpretation, but the essence of his dream, Daniel courageously, yet very wisely prefaced what he had to say with stating that no wise men, mystics or astrologers could do what the king had asked, but there exists a God in heaven who reveals mysteries and He had made know to the king what would take place in times to come. Daniel then confidently took a back seat to the operation of his own significant gift, by stating that his receiving this revelation had nothing to do with his own wisdom or gift, but rather because God wanted the king to have a grasp of the times and seasons to follow.
So it is, that this season of separation should define those in our inner circle. For Daniel, there was an intentional selection of his inner circle: those he trusted to regularly pray with, who also were those he intervened for with his influence in bringing them promotion because he knew of their unwavering fear of God.
“So I gained strength as the hand of Adonai my God was upon me, as I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.” Ezra 7:28
Beware of the Infiltrators
In this season of separation, those requiring the most serious discernment and the need of being cautious in guarding against, will be those coming from within: those who for their own gain employ their prophetic gift as did Balaam (Num 23) and those whose ambitious leadership was as Shebna’s (Isa 22). Those who genuinely know the Lord and whose mantle will include exploits will have the discernment and wariness to mark those whose lack of spiritual maturity is profiled by the ambitions of modern-day Balaams and Shebnas.
For those whose destinies will follow the pattern of modern-day Josephs and Daniels, opportunity will unfold with those whose faith is marked by the fear of God and their courage in the face of confronting evil.
“If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me.” John 8:54
The Season of Opportunity
Embracing the opportunity of this emerging season will come neither from the zeal of youth nor from the past patterns of success embraced by the seasoned. Moses had prepared Joshua, but Joshua needed something more to guide His leadership.
In affirming His guidance and presence, God spoke to Joshua and distinctively imparted the additional dimension and focus needed for an essential part of his thinking and leadership decision-making: of staying immersed in God’s word, which would be the foundation and maintenance he needed to operate with the courage and strength for the level of faith required in confronting evil and overcoming the impossible.
Over the course of his life, Daniel was constantly asking the Lord for more; to take him beyond his already significant gifts and abilities. For years I’ve described the unadulterated path of the Kingdom as being a narrow corridor between life and death. Such was the path faced by Daniel, Joshua and most of the heroes of faith. So it will be for those whose mandates for this season have not been seduced by personal ambitions and misuse of their gifts.
“Woe, judgment is coming to those who are wise in their own eyes and are clever in their own sight!” Isa 5:21
With the bar being raised, before us is a pathway leading to God’s restoration of Israel and His people that has been described from the days of the prophets of old, through the words of Jesus and in the revelation given to John on Patmos.
It is a difficult path, a narrow corridor with its boundaries framed with little tolerance between life and death. Globally, the setting for this path penetrates the seats of power of evil. The opportunity for this season is that which that great cloud of witnesses described in Hebrews has longed to see, which will come to those of this generation willing to align their priorities with His priorities; indeed as it has been expressed in Revelation: “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and word of their testimony and loved not their lives unto death.”
The spiritual atmosphere for this unfolding season is tapped by Malachi’s question of: “Who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.”
Yet the response to Malachi’s pointed question is immediately explained as the process that removes the chaff, while also being that which provides the cleansing and purifying to release the anointing for those whose priestly functions will serve as the modern-day heroes of faith who intervene in righteousness.
Indeed, as Hebrews 12 points to the context, focus and dynamics required to not be subject to what may result as weariness or being overwhelmed, for those truly reaching to obtain a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. This substantive admonition in Hebrews concludes with what will manifest in the Day of the Lord from the essence of the Lord’s presence referenced from Deuteronomy 4: “Our God is a consuming fire.”
In responding to this season and the time yet approaching, our model should be from the example of Daniel, who despite his incredible exploits, was still seriously reaching beyond his own needs and thinking, with the discipline and focus required to understand, during the final part of his earthly journey.
“Have you entered the treasury of snow or have you seen the storehouse of hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? The LORD has opened His armory and has brought out the weapons of His indignation; for this is the work of the Lord God of hosts.” Job 38:22, 23 Jer 50:25
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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