We don’t always know what God’s been doing in the background. Sometimes destiny is just waiting for time, place and circumstance to collide.
Take, for example, the case of Ornan and his threshing floor. David had just angered the Lord in 1 Chronicles 21 by calling for an illegal census of the people. As a result, 70,000 Israelites lay dead before the Lord commanded His angel to sheath his sword.
David and his men saw the angel standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (Chronicles 21:15). They fell flat on their faces, pleading for mercy and the angel commanded an altar be built right on that spot. (Some of you may already know the story. If you need a refresher, you can read the whole account in Chronicles 21:1-27.)
That’s what David was doing, but what was Ornan, the owner of that flat slab of rock, doing? We find out a couple verses later. “Ornan turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat” (21:20). Now there’s a man totally engrossed in his work!
Things aren’t always what they seem
Most scholars consider this bit of rocky outcropping to be where Abraham lifted his knife to sacrifice Isaac to the Lord (until God stopped him in mid-stab, that is). The place is known as Mount Moriah, the spot where Solomon would eventually build the great Temple.
Now run an imaginary time-lapse video at Ornan’s threshing floor in your mind. Start way back in Abraham’s time. There’s Abe, gratefully replacing his son with the ram as he finished his sacrifice. Father and son go back down the hill and nothing happens for a long time. Wind blows over the barren rock. Dead leaves skitter and tumbleweeds roll by. (Are tumbleweeds native to Israel? Oh, well. Never mind.) The time-lapse continues. Civilization creeps nearer as farmers move in and begin using the conveniently flat rock as a threshing floor. Finally, Ornan’s family takes possession of the outcrop and the fields around it. By that time, however, no one remembers what happened there long ago. End tape.
Oblivious of what came before, Ornan is busy doing his mundane and uneventful job – threshing the wheat. Out of the blue, an angel appears and from that moment on, an otherwise unremarkable place becomes the hub of worship for the entire nation.
How about you? How about me? Does our work seem ordinary? Inconsequential? Is it possible that this little spot where we are doing our insignificant thing, this place inhabited until now with nothing more exciting than dead leaves, tumbleweeds and the sweat of our brow, the threshing floor where we work, hidden in obscurity until this very day – could this be where something wonderful is destined to begin?
Let’s keep working. Let’s stay focused. Who knows? One day we may turn around like Ornan did and find an angel standing on our threshing floor.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT).