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Wheat, Tares and Chaff

One of the studies I have done is on the references to wheat, tares and chaff in God's Word. What exactly are tares and chaff anyway? I did some research a while back and found out, so let's take a look at some scripture:

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Matthew 13:30 (KJV)

Matthew 13:24-30 gives us Christ's parable of the tares. What the Bible called tares is commonly known today to be a weed called lolium temulentum or simply 'darnel'. What is interesting about the tare or the darnel is that it is nearly identical to wheat in the early stages of growth, so much so that in some regions the darnel is called 'false wheat'. It is only in the later stages of growth that the difference between the two becomes apparent.

As Jesus later explains in Matthew 13:37-42 the tares represent the "children of the wicked one". They are placed on purpose by Satan right alongside the children of the kingdom. Knowing that the darnel (tare) is virtually identical to the wheat for much of its life unlocks some great truths here. First, we can see the obvious, that being identical will make it hard for us to discern the difference. Secondly, it is only once both mature that they no longer resemble each other making separation possible. So spiritually speaking it is only once we grow and mature in the Lord that we will notice the difference between ourselves and the children of the wicked one, or the wolves in the body of Christ. Also we can see that those who are still immature and cease to grow will continue to resemble the immature darnel (tare).

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Luke 22:31-32 (KJV)

We all know what wheat is, it is a grain that is a staple of our diet. The Bible uses wheat as a allegory for Christians. Once the wheat has been separated from any tares they may have grown with and gathered into the barn it is ready for further attention.

Wheat is not just gathered up and consumed, it must be processed first. The edible part of the plant must be separated from the part that is considered unfit for human consumption. This process is called 'threshing' or 'sifting'. What we can see in these verses about the sifting process or threshing is that Satan plays a big part in it. This is the process where the seed heads of the wheat are violently beaten with instruments to separate the kernels from the unusable part of the plant which is called the chaff. This chaff is sometimes used to feed livestock such as pigs. Could this be what the prodigal son ate when he was separated from the father?

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Matthew 3:11-12 (KJV)

Once the wheat has been threshed or sifted the final process, winnowing is begun. The chaff now lays mixed with the wheat on the threshing floor and must be separated for disposal by burning. This was accomplished by a winnowing fan which separated the lighter chaff from the wheat and is carried away by the wind. It is only once the chaff is separated from the wheat by winnowing that the wheat is ready to be gathered from the threshing floor in the barn into the garner, or grain storage container.

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Revelation 3:11 (KJV)

When the wheat is ready for harvest, it must be harvested quickly as possible before bad weather ruins it. The chaff was part of the wheat so spiritually speaking we can understand it to be the things in us that God has allowed Satan to work out of our lives through threshing/sifting. But unlike the threshing/sifting process it is Christ Himself (not Satan) that does the winnowing.



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