The Threshing Sledge

January 24, 2017

I am currently enjoying teaching 1 Chronicles in our Bible class in our local congregation. The record of David’s ill-advised census and its terrible consequences is found in 1 Chron. 21. An angel and a prophet were used by God to instruct David: “Now the angel of the LORD had commanded Gad to say to David that David should go up and raise an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite” (v.18, ESV). David purchased the threshing floor at the “full price” from Ornan, “And David built there an altar to the LORD and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the LORD, and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering” (v.26, ESV).

Ornan had made this offer: “See, I give the oxen for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges for the wood and the wheat for a grain offering; I give it all,” but David insisted that he pay “the full price” (v.24); David would not offer to the Lord “that which costs me nothing.”

Note that reference is made to the “threshing sledges for the wood.” The threshing sledge was pulled across the grain to separate the kernel from the chaff. In Aphrodisias, Turkey, I had the opportunity to photograph several threshing sledges.  This helps us to visualize what David used for wood for the burnt offerings in our Chronicles text.

Threshing Sledge at Aphrodisias, Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Threshing Sledge at Aphrodisias, Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Though the text is challenging, it seems that its placement in Chronicles is to show the usage God made of the event. The property David purchased for offering for atonement for sin would become the site for Solomon’s building the temple! “Then David said, ‘Here shall be the house of the LORD God and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel'” (22:1).

Click photo for larger view.

Running the Race

January 4, 2012

Hebrews 12:1 states, “Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us” (CSB).

David McClister comments,

The idea of a race with a finish line in the distance before us suits well the picture of a faith that is forward-looking and that requires determination. Josephus spoke of ‘those who have a prize before them’ and how, when they are zealous about it, they do not stop working for it. Races in Greco-Roman times were held in a public venue called a stadium, of which several ancient examples survive (Olympia, Athens, Rome, Tyre, Laodicea, Pergamum, Ephesus, Priene, Miletus, Aphrodisias, Perge, Sardis, etc.). On each side of the race course was seating for spectators. The shortest races were about 210 yards, the longest were about 5,000 yards (2.8 miles), so stamina was needed for any one of them. The point of the imagery here is not about speed or who crosses first, but about endurance and running in the best possible way so as to finish what was started (A Commentary on Hebrews, p.441).

One of the best preserved Roman stadiums is at Aphrodisias (western Turkey), included in those mentioned above. This helps us understand the imagery used in the biblical text.

Roman Stadium at Aphrodisias Illustrates the text of Hebrews 12:1. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In running this spiritual race, the inspired writer goes on to say, “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne” (v.2, CSB).

Click on image for larger view.

%d bloggers like this: