Journey Through the Book of Matthew
Matthew 3:11, 12
11 I indeed baptize you with water into 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. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and father His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
John continues his discourse and rebuke of the religious leaders. In verse 9 he had prophesied that the Gentiles would cry out the great tidings of the Gospel. In verse 10 he predicted the cutting down of every tree that fails to bare good fruit. Now in verse 11 he predicts the soon coming of the Messiah. John predicts that while he himself baptizes with water, the followers of Jesus would be baptized by the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Before Christ was born of Mary in Bethlehem, the Pre-incarnate Christ was the moving force in this world. Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-4; Hebrews 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15, 16. It was the Pre-incarnate Christ that led the Israelites through the desert for 40 years. It was the Pre-incarnate Christ that came down to the Garden of Eden and created Adam and Eve and also gave them the terrible news that because of their sin, they would have to leave the garden home. The God of the Old Testament is the same God as the New Testament, it is just he becoming the likeness of sinful man lost the ability to be omnipresent. So He sent the Holy Spirit to work upon the hearts of men and when they accept Christ as their personal Saviour and become baptized with Christ, in the watery grave they are being Baptized by the Holy Spirit who points all mankind to Christ our Creator and Redeemer.
In verse 12 John continues his prediction of future events. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and father His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Again it would be well for us to have an understand of an agrarian society to get the full impact of what is being said. First let me point out this is a reference to Christ’s second coming. His coming upon the clouds of glory to take those whose names are written in The Lamb’s Book of Life, to live with him in heaven for 1000 years.
The second coming is often referred to as the harvest. During the harvest the weeds and the wheat were often harvested together. Then they were placed on the threshing flood and beaten to dislodge the cornels of grain from the stock or the chaff. When it appeared to be separated, they would throw the harvest into the air to let the chaff and weeds be blown away by the wind, while the heavier good grain would fall again onto the threshing flood.
When the last of crops had been processed in this fashion, the chaff was gathered together and burned. It would burn in what would be described as a very hot unquenchable fire until all that could burn would be burned, and the fire would go out on its own. Unquenchable has also been applied to a fire that never goes out. But when is really being said is the effects of the fire are unquenchable in that the effect will never go away.
Sodom and Gomorrah are described as being burned by a never ending fire. They location is where the Dead Sea presently is. Is the fire still burning? No of course not. But the results of the fire last forever.
Here in verse 12 John is describing events to come at the end of time. Christ will come again and Gather his precious wheat together and upon safely storing them in the city that will never burn, cleanses the earth with fire and then re-creates the earth to all its splendid glory as it was in the Garden of Eden.
John the Revelator, the beloved disciple of Jesus, wrote these wonderful words in the 21th chapter of Revelation. 1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 and I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. 5 Then he who sat on the throne said “Behold I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21:1-5
The first two chapters of Genesis are about God and his creating of the earth. The last two chapter in Revelation are about how God, Christ, the Lamb slain for our sins re-creates the earth into its former glory before sin. All the Bible in between is about man running from God and God pleading with his earth children to return to him. Jeremiah 31:3, 4; The Lord has appeared of old to me saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. 4Again I will build you and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.”
What a glorious day that will be, when the earth is re-created.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John . . .