Jerusalem: Theshing Floor of the World
Jerusalem: Threshing Floor of the World
by Lonnie Lane
We don’t call it the threshing floor today. We call it the Temple Mount. The location was known as Mt. Moriah to Abraham. It is also called Har HaBayit in Hebrew, meaning Mountain of the House (of the Lord). It is also the location of the Arab Al Aksa mosque, also identified as the Dome of the Rock, the place that Mohammed supposedly visited in a night vision, though he never stepped foot anywhere near that part of the world. Al Aksa means “the distant place” in Arabic, supporting the fact that it was distant from wherever Mohammed actually was when he had his vision. In truth, the “distant place” could have been anywhere because the Koran never even mentions Jerusalem at all. Nevertheless, it remains a holy place of worship for the Arab people. Despite the fact that the location of the mosque is precisely where the Holy of Holies of the temple stood, neither Jews nor Christians are permitted to pray there. Some things are definitely wrong with this picture.
“This piece of real estate is the place of the world’s greatest conflict today, though not everyone would see it that way.”
This piece of real estate is the place of the world’s greatest conflict today, though not everyone would see it that way. Though it is the location of the remains of the Temple of the Jewish people, only the western outside wall remains of the temple since it’s destruction in 70 A.D. It is where Jewish and often Christian people come to pray. If you are going to visit Israel, no trip is complete without a visit to the wall. I remember the first time I saw it. We were trying to find it walking through the winding narrow streets of Jerusalem. It was late on a Thursday night and we were lost and a bit frightened as we had wandered into the Arab quarter and our small group were obviously Jews from outside of Israel and not savvy in negotiating Jerusalem streets. We ran into a few men dressed as Arabs who delighted in intimidating us, successfully I might add. We were down right scared as some incidents had taken place shortly before and we didn’t want to be the subjects of the next one.
But suddenly, as we turned a corner, there we were, the Wall in front of us. We were flooded with awe. I’d heard about this wall almost all my life and now it was before me. I was looking at a piece of the temple! I felt as if generations of my Jewish ancestors were there with us. The place seemed alive to me. The caretakers had just hosed it down in preparation for the Sabbath the next day so that it glistened in the bright lights that illuminated the area. The Wall loomed into the black night sky, while the lights revealed such huge rocks that one wonders how they transported them, let alone hoisted them one on top of another to construct the wall. There is a presence at the Wall. Not being a believer at that time I didn’t know what it was. I know now, of course. The Holy Spirit hovers over it protectively. It was a riveting experience to rest my head and press my hands against those stones. How many other Jewish people had longed for God and for Messiah to come whose hands had been placed exactly where mine had been? I wonder how many may have prayed at that wall, hoping that God would hear and answer, praying with longing for connection with Him. I remain humble and grateful that God has chosen me and my family to enable us to know Yeshua so that I can come to Him with assurance that He does hear my prayers.
My father came from a very long line of orthodox rabbis who claim to be Levites. Those who weren’t rabbis were writers (scribes) and teachers which is still fulfilling a Levitical call. My grandfather and his brother, who came from Russia to America became sign letterers to earn a living which is still being scribes. It would appear that what Paul said about, “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11;29) seems to still apply. That I’m a writer seems to be part of that calling. I’ve known numerous Jews who know what tribe their families are from, especially if they are Levites or Cohens (priests). At one time, Sid was offering a DVD of the ten supposedly Lost Tribes having been found in remote eastern areas. The two Jewish men who did the search for the tribes wondered why they found no priests. Then they found an entire town in which everyone in the town was named Cohen. They did blood tests on all of them which proved that they were indeed of the priest class, as Jewish Cohanim (plural) carry a specific gene that identifies them as priests found no where else.
The priests told the men that they have been waiting for the Messiah all these centuries and for their return to the Land of Israel. Their very existence and validity as Israel’s priests prove God’s Word to be true when He said, “Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: If this fixed order departs from before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever” (Jeremiah 31:35,3 6). The ten tribes weren’t lost. They said they were never lost, they’ve always known who they are – the tribes of Gad and Naftali, Manasseh and Ephraim, etc. respectively. Some have begun to return to Israel. The many Ethiopian Jews that are now in Israel, known as Falashas, are of the tribe of Dan, for instance. It’s all quite amazing, isn’t it? God is fulfilling what He told Jacob He would do. “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Gen. 28:14).
My first granddaughter was born in Israel, the first one in our family born in the Land for at least two thousand years. She is a testimony to God keeping His word to re-establish us in the Land. Her birth and my times in Israel have always caused me to wonder, did any of those Levites among my ancestors know Yeshua? Did they live in Jerusalem when Yeshua walked the earth? Did they hear Him speak? And did they acknowledge Him, or were they among those who opposed Him? Sobering to think of what my long-ago ancestors might have done or believed, since the lineage would have to go all the way back past the days of Yeshua, past the days of David and Solomon, to Aaron. Being Levites they must have taken their turn in service in Moses’ tabernacle long before David conquered the Jebusite city with its fortress of Zion we now call Jerusalem.
Were any of my Levite ancestors among those who carried the ark on their shoulders when marching into the promised Land under Joshua, or when David finally brought it into Jerusalem? What was their experience in serving in the great temple when their turn came for service? They must have been elsewhere when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. and 100,000 Jews were murdered and thousands of others were taken as slaves for obviously they survived or I wouldn’t be here. Could they have been among the Believers in Yeshua who, heeded His warning to leave Jerusalem when they saw their temple being overrun by the Roman armies? Yeshua warned, “When you therefore see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (let the reader understand), then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes” (Matthew 24:15-18). In other words, get out quickly. Did they do that?
When we became Believers in Yeshua almost 35 years ago in my immediate family, it was highly unusual for three generations of Jewish people to come to the Lord (we’re now four generations.) It makes me wonder if there wasn’t at least one Believer in our generations that knew Yeshua and prayed for his family to come to the Lord that got answered in our generation. My great grandfather wrote a book called God, Man and the Universe. He wrote it in Yiddish in Russia. We had it translated by my son-in-law’s mother in Israel into English and it sounds like I wrote it. It astounded me how similar not only our writing styles are but the fact that my rabbi great-grandfather would write about God much like I write about God, only not knowing Yeshua. Calling again, it would seem.
So what does all this have to do with the conflict of the Temple Mount and the threshing floor? For one thing, this little bit of family history gives evidence that God is invested in keeping His Jewish people not only alive as an identifiable people, but He has maintained, it appears, the callings of the respective tribes. He told Abraham the Land would belong to his descendents forever. The Land belongs to Jacob’s children, not Esau’s. The Koran says erroneously that Abraham was ready to sacrifice Esau, not Isaac on Mt. Moriah (which is the exact same location as the Temple Mount). But the Levites are descendents of Levi who was a son of Jacob, not of Esau. It was to the Levites that God gave the charge of carrying the Arc of the covenant in which are the promises of that particular piece of land being theirs. And there has always been a remnant of Jewish people in the land. So the Arab people have no real claim to it, despite all the conflict going on today.
David actually bought that particular piece of land. A plague had broken out in Israel due to a transgression by David that displeased the Lord. He had taken a census to see how many men and how many warriors he had, which meant he was depending upon numbers of men and not the Lord. His conscience was smitten after he did it and as a result 70,000 men died from the plague. David visibly saw the Angel of the Lord. “Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep,(Israel) what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house” (2 Sam’l 24:17).
The Lord had the prophet Gad come and tell David to erect an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah, which was on that same location we’ve been discussing. Araunah offered to give it to David as well as the animals for sacrifice. But David declined his offer, saying, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel” (:24, 25). Note, it wasn’t the sacrifices that moved God’s heart but the “prayer for the land,” meaning the Jewish people dwelling in the land.
What is significant here is that David bought rightful ownership of this piece of land, which is the same piece of Land where Abraham was willing to offer up Isaac for sacrifice to God. This became the Land upon which Solomon built the temple. David paid for that land. It still rightfully belongs to David’s ancestors, we could say. But there is more to it. This Land was a threshing floor which is used to separate the wheat from the chaff, the useful and fruitful from that which is useless and fruitless. In kingdom terms, threshing or winnowing are often used in Scripture for the process of separating the righteous from the unrighteous. John, in speaking about Yeshua said, “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt 3:12; Luke 3:17).
One principle in Scripture about places is that what we see early on has a tendency to remain in that same place. Like the callings on the tribes, so the callings on the places appear to be “irrevocable” as well. What becomes evident about the Temple Mount is that Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice His son in order to obey God, because he loved God even more than he loved Isaac (and we know how much he loved Isaac), is a type of what God would do many years later when He sacrificed His own Son on our behalf. But it has also remained a threshing place. Nation after nation has fought over that tiny piece of land. Jerusalem has seen many a nation dominate her. There is always a judging of nations that come against Israel or Jerusalem. Threshing is a process of beating the wheat, whether in a sheaf all bound up in the bundle together, or individually ground by a threshing wheel. We can stand with Israel or against her either within the context of our nation or peer group or individually with a prejudice against Israel or the Jewish people.
All the conflict that goes on regarding that area of the world is a threshing process. It is a separating out of that which is aligned with God and His word and that which is not. That which is found to be chaff and not wheat, or of the lies and not the truth, are done away. That happens relating to threshing where either the chaff is blown away by the wind which is the same word as Spirit (I certainly wouldn’t want the Holy Spirit to blow me away from Him as unfit for the Kingdom, would you?) or the chaff is burned up, which is always a metaphor for what takes place in hell. The issue is that critical. Israel means that much to God, that whether we regard that Land as God’s or not, those persons who reject God’s word regarding the Land being Israel’s will find themselves in the turmoil of a threshing floor experience. If we cannot believe God that Israel is His, how can we believe Him that He has a right to the whole world ultimately.
“God has made it clear that judgment will come to those nations that attempt to divide this Land which He calls His own.”
It is likely that the final threshing will take place in relation to the nations of the world coming against Israel’s right to her Land and particularly the Temple Mount. Hearts will be judged accordingly. There is no doubt that God will allow Israel to become such an issue in the earth that every heart will be tried relating to His word to Israel. Watch and see. God has made it clear that judgment will come to those nations that attempt to divide this Land which He calls His own. “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.”
As ethno-centric as I may sound, it does appear that how we each view the Land of Israel as belonging to the Jews or not seems to indicate whether or not we are wheat or chaff. Zechariah chapters 12 and 14 indicate a consummate conflict which will likely encompass much more than the Land of Israel as the nations of the world weigh in against Israel and therefore against God. “The burden of the word of the LORD against Israel. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.” (12:1-3).
We’re all waiting for the Lord’s return. It’s true we expect Him to come one day in the clouds, whether pre, mid or post tribulation, but what about after He breaks through in the sky? Will He then stand on the earth in Jerusalem, not heaven? I never heard this spoken of in people’s end time scenarios, but here it is. “Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south…” But it doesn’t end there. “Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light” (14:3-7).
“And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.” (:8, 9). And this story will culminate as the story of all stories and is the one that can truly end with “And they lived happily ever after.”
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Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.