“Many nations have now assembled against you; they say, ‘Let her be defiled, and let us feast our eyes on Zion.’ But they do not know the Lord’s intentions or understand his plan, that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
We have recently been watching the new season of America’s Got Talent: The Champions. This particular version of the immensely popular show premiered last year as a kind of best-of-the-best competition, but one that includes the best acts from all over the world. It’s a lot of fun seeing some of our favorite acts as well as some new amazing talent. While I enjoy many of the performers, the ones I tend to enjoy most fall in line with what God is saying here through His prophet Micah.
Last summer, on the main season of the show, there was a performance artist named Alex Dowis. His medium of choice was light. He used a special light-sensitive canvas and flash lights to create these incredible and incredibly moving pictures. What made him so intriguing was that each performance told a story that you didn’t understand completely until it all came together at the end. Each time there was this wow moment that was often powerfully emotional because of the story he had told.
The thing is, if you stopped watching halfway through the story or thought you knew what he was doing before he finished, you would wind up thinking it was just a mess. He had accomplished nothing of real value and was just making random lines and shapes on the screen like a little kid having fun might. The technology was cool, but it definitely wasn’t worthy of being featured on the world’s greatest talent show.
For the people of Israel here, they had just been told that they were going to be conquered by the Babylonians. And we shouldn’t imagine this was a message delivered once and largely forgotten about. This was a message from a recognized (even if perhaps disliked) prophet. Micah’s sermon would have been preached multiple times in multiple locations. It would have been repeated over and over again. Word would have been spread far and wide of the coming fall of Israel.
And while the people of Israel would have been devastated at the news (at least, as we talked about yesterday, the ones who believed it), their enemies would have been delighted at the news. They would have gloated at their coming misfortune. They would have been salivating at the chance to scavenge the leftovers, plundering the people who remained. A foe falling is not a cause for mourning, but celebrating. In particular, in the mindset of the day, Israel’s coming fall meant their God had abandoned them. He isn’t so good or powerful as He had always been described. They could be even more confident in their own, better gods.
Here, the prophet has a word for these folks. Their delight is premature. It is premature because they don’t understand the plans of the Lord. As far as God’s plans are concerned, the people of Israel are sheaves on the threshing floor.
Of course, in a mostly non-agrarian society, this image is probably meaningless to most folks. What is a sheave? A sheave is a bundle of freshly harvested wheat or some other grain. The threshing floor was the place the grain would be harvested. The process was that the sheave was beat relentlessly by the thresher in order to loosen and dislodge all the worthless chaff. This was blown away by the wind (threshing floors were generally on top of a hill) leaving behind the good grain which was turned into all kinds of useful, life-giving things.
The point here is this: a sheave of graining sitting on a threshing floor indicates that the work is not yet done. There is hard work yet to do in fact, but the end result is going to be something good.
God’s work in Israel wasn’t finished. Their enemies were laughing, thinking their God was done with them, that they were lost, but there was work yet to do. He was making them into something good.
That work is still ongoing now in we who follow Him today. You and I, we are sheaves on the threshing floor. There is work yet to be done in us. God’s not done. The work is going to get hard at times. It will probably hurt because of what He is trying to loosen and dislodge in our lives, but the end result is going to be something good. Trust Him and let Him do His good work in you. He’s not done yet.