“The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.” (Psalm 1:4-6)
The first half of Psalm 1 describes the godly person and the blessings coming to him, while the last half focuses on the ungodly who will perish. The wicked are pictured in Scripture as “chaff.”
When grain is harvested and placed in piles on the threshing floor the servants beat it with a rod. The harvesters throw up the beaten grain and the wind blows the chaff away. It is later gathered and thrown into the fire to be burned. In contrast to the righteous, who are like fruitful trees and blessed, the ungodly are dead, rootless, blown about, and destined for the garbage heap. No wonder Jesus used the garbage dump outside Jerusalem (gehenna) as a picture of hell, because that’s where the useless waste ends up in the fire.
Have you ever seen a garbage dump on fire? It gives off a noxious smell that permeates the air making it hard to breathe. Often times the fire releases toxic fumes that can cause permanent health issues and even death. Such a place is alleged to exist in Bridgeton, Mo. Another is an underground fire in a coal mine in Colorado that has been burning for years.
John the Baptist used these same images of the tree, fruit, and chaff to warn sinners to repent in Matthew 3; “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 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.” (Mt. 3:7b, 12)
What is the responsibility of the righteous in relation to the wicked? Are we to ignore their plight and stand aside to watch them fall into the fire?
According to the Psalmist in verses 1-3, the godly are to reach out to the ungodly with the gospel.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that 2017 will provide many opportunities to share Christ.