The Significance of the Hebrew Festivals
for the Christian
- Hebrew Festivals For The Christian
- Unleavened Bread
- Feast Of Firstfruits
- Feast Of Weeks
- Feast Of Trumpets
- Day Of Atonement
- Feast Of Tabernacles
THE SHEAF OF Firstfruits
I. The priest waved a sheaf of the firstfruits of the grain harvest before the Lord "for you to be accepted. This was done on the third day after the Passover Lamb was slain (Lev. 23:10-11).
2. The waving of the sheaf of the firstfruits of the early barley harvest represents the resurrection, ascension and return to earth of Jesus on the third day after He, the Lamb of God, was slain "for you to be accepted." (1 Cor. 15:20-23, Matt. 16:21, Lk. 24:46, John 20:11-22).
3. The sheaf of firstfruits also looks forward to a prepared group of overcomers who will ascend to the Lord and return to earth during the tribulation period to assist in establishing the Church in power (Mal. 3:16-18. Matt. 25:1-13, Rev. 12:1-2, 5-6, 14.1-5, 19:7).
THE SHEAF OF FIRSTFRUITS
The fifteenth day of the first month, Nisan, which is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was declared a sabbath. "And he shall wave the sheaf before the lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it." (Lev. 23:11). So it was "on the day after the sabbath," or on the sixteenth day of the first month that the wave-sheaf of the first-fruits of the grain harvest, depicting the resurrection ascension and return to earth of Jesus, was offered to God "for you to be accepted." (I Cor. 15:20-23).
It is clear from the New Testament that Christ rose from the state of physical death "the third day." (Matt. 16:21, Lk. 24:46). In the festival pattern, the lamb was sacrificed on the opening of the Passover, on the evening preceding the fifteenth. The sabbath followed and the sheaf of firstfruits of grain was waved before the Lord on the day after the sabbath or on "the third day" after the death of the lamb. After His resurrection, it is cleat that Jesus did present Himself "before the Lord for you to be accepted." (John 20:11-17). He then returned to earth (John 20:19). Just as the firstfruits of grain early in the season anticipates the nearness of the harvest so did the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus anticipate a great harvest (John 12:24). The firstfruits pattern had its initial prophetic fulfillment through the events of the ministry of Jesus and has further prophetic fulfillment at the end of this age.
Many Christians believe that all those who have been "born again" or regenerated will be participants in an event, which has been named the "rapture" and will be taken from the earth when Christ comes again. Scarcely a worse delusion could be entertained. Christ's Kingdom is to be a ruling Kingdom (Rev. 5:10, 20:6). Even in the kingdoms or nations of men, think of the chaos that would immediately result if immature, unproven babes and children were put in positions of responsibility. Jesus' parables of the "talents and pounds" show that those to be received into His heavenly kingdom are to receive posts of responsibility. "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master." (Matt. 25:21). "Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities." (Lk. 19:l7) However, many Christians are yet babes and children, spiritual progress and growth considered. Many have begun to enter into the "adolescent" stage, which is good and needful, but this is a problem time in spiritual growth, even as it is in the natural. The chief difficulty seems to be spiritual pride, which can manifest itself in many ways. Those who continue toward the Lord must avoid this tendency and help others to do so.
Those who are to rule and reign with Christ are to be kings and priests and joint-heirs (Rev. 5:10, Ro. 8:17). The Lord has made it clear, however, that He requires a progressive proving through testing, resulting in consistent obedience and faithfulness. Those who are to assume positions of responsibility in Christ's Kingdom, initially, are those who are "called and chosen and faithful." (Rev. 17:14) This is the reason for Peter's exhortation that there is a need to "be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you... "(2 Pet. 1:10). The prize of the high calling of God is a prize for which one must run with the firm intention of winning (Phil. 3:14, I Cor. 9:24-27, Heb. 12:1-2, Jas. 1:12).
History supports the fact that a son became a "joint heir" in the inheritance of his father only after he had been tutored, disciplined and had grown to sufficient maturity to be formally "placed as a son." This placing as a son is the correct translation of the Greek word which appears in various places in the New Testament and is often misleadingly translated "adoption." Actually, it has nothing to do with adoption as we use the term. It has to do with those children in the family of God who reach that place of sufficient preparation and maturity where they are ready for "placing as sons as joint-heirs with Christ." (Gal. 4:1-2). Paul says that we are "waiting eagerly for our adoption (placement) as sons (through) the redemption of our body" (Ro. 8:23). Therefore, mature "sonship" will come only with undying earthly bodies or with bodies which are glorified or transformed in the same manner as was the body of our Lord Jesus at his resurrection (Phil. 3:20-21).
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer (cooperate) with Him in order that we also may be glorified with Him" (Ro. 8:16-17). "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim 2:12).
All truly "born again" or regenerated children of God are predestined or planned toward the "adoption" or "placing" as sons; however, all will not be ready at the same time. As in the natural family, not all children are born at the same time, nor do they grow and mature at the same rate. Thus at the end of this dispensation will there be a "firstfruits" company or group that will ripen into maturity before a greater harvest which will subsequently follow.
To continue the correlation of the various phases of our Lord's second coming with the watches of the night as they were designated at that time under Roman rule, it is significant to observe that Jesus warned that as Master of His house He would also come at midnight. Midnight concludes the second watch of the night. However, as we have already seen, since the Hebrew day began at sunset, it is actually the second period of a new day. We must keep in mind the double significance of the prophetic picture. To most of the world the "day of the Lord" is a period of increasing darkness (Joel 2:1-2, Zeph. l:l4-18). But to those who are alert and are not overcome by the darkness of the night and are not sleeping, it is a time of increasing light. Concerning the Lord's coming "at midnight," we read in Matthew 25:6, "But at midnight there was a shout, Behold, the bridegroom! Come out and meet him."' The prudent virgins were taken into the
marriage and the foolish virgins were left outside. This coming at midnight is referred to elsewhere as Jesus' coming "as a thief." "Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you" (Rev. 3:3). Notice the warning in regard to being unprepared, as were the foolish virgins. The same warning note is sounded in Rev. 16:15, "Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments. Lest he walk about naked and men see his shame." A thief, when he breaks in to take something, does not announce his coming and the only evidence that he has been there is that something valuable is missing. He comes, "at an hour that you (the unprepared) do not expect" (Lk. 12:40). He comes to take His jewels or special treasure (Mal. 3:16-4:3). This special treasure is the 144, 000 firstfruits group made up of the prudent virgins who have been "purchased from among men as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb" (Rev. 14:1-5). Those who qualify will be translated at the beginning of the tribulation period, for they will have attained the necessary strength "to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Lk. 21:36). Since they have a ministry to fulfill on the earth during the tribulation period, the Lord further indicates that (upon their return) they will "distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him" (Mal. 3:18).
And be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into" (Lk. 12:39). The "house" referred to is the Church, which is the "household of God" (Eph. 2:19) This is the price He exacts of a careless household which is not awake and alert, and therefore, not ready. He breaks into it and takes the prudent virgins, for "those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding feast (marriages): and the door was shut (Mat. 25:10). This is in harmony with Rev. 19:7 which says "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready."
It should be mentioned that there are those who teach that the "church" or "the called out ones," from which the 144,000 Firstfruits Group or Bride of Christ will be chosen, includes the faithful from many ages. Others teach that it is only the faithful of the last 1,900 years who have had the opportunity to be included in that select group. And yet others teach that the Bride of Christ will be taken only from the faithful living on the earth just prior to Christ's physical return. Since scripture is not a matter of private interpretation, it is essential, for those who care to possess the truth, to prayerfully search the scriptures allowing illumination from the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Now since the Bride will have made herself ready first, she is to be joined to her husband at the beginning of the tribulation period, which event is the initial sounding of the seventh trumpet (Rev. 10:7, 14:1). Then she will be instructed to return and help prepare those who are to be the guests at the marriage supper, for there is a difference between the marriage and the marriage supper. The marriage supper takes place after a great harvest of saints is taken off the face of the earth 1260 days later, near the close of the tribulation period (Rev. 7:9-17, 11:1-12). Therefore, during the tribulation period the Bride Company will be issuing a call to those then in sincere preparation. "And the Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes, take the word of life without cost" (Rev. 22:17). The call is an invitation, and all who are able to respond will participate in the marriage supper of the lamb referred to in Rev. 19:9.
Since the Bride is made ready first, symbolized by her being the firstfruits unto the Lamb, she is also pictured in Revelation 12, as born out of the earthly church organism first, and then being taken up to God (Rev. 12:1-2,5). The "woman clothed with the sun" described in Rev. 12:1-2 is not a picture of The heavenly Bride of Christ, but in one application, is a picture of the present church organism on earth travailing to bring forth mature sons.
Today's organized church as a whole has not yet entered into her final stage of labor to any great degree, but there are those few who are entering into more understanding and are taking up this work. The first who qualify of the sufficiently matured sons will be in that company which is to make up the heavenly Bride of our Lord. As has been mentioned, she will then be instructed to nourish and mother the church during the tribulation period (Rev. 12:6).
This description is in harmony with Psalm 45, which presents the picture of the King and Queen. Verse 9 describes the Queen as she stands at the right hand of her King, attired in gold from Ophir Verse 13 indicates that she "is all glorious within; Her clothing is interwoven with gold." This gold interweave speaks of spiritual preparedness. Although verse 13 speaks of the Queen as the "King's daughter," this presents no inconsistency when it is understood that from among the "daughters" in His Church, the King, the Lord Jesus, has prepared a group of sufficient maturity to be accepted as His Queen. Now notice others beside the Queen in verse 14, "she (the Queen) will be led to the King in embroidered work; The virgins, her companions who follow her, will be brought to Thee." Since her companions follow her, it would indicate that they arrive later. They are the foolish virgins of Matthew 25.1-12, who are briefly left behind when the prudent virgin group or the Bride is taken at the midnight hour. However, the fact that they do arrive later is supported in verse 15. "They will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing, they will enter into the King's palace."
Although the taking of the Firstfruits "at midnight" closes the second watch, it is also the event of the initial blast of the seventh trumpet of Rev. 10:7 which will enable a precise prediction of the remaining momentous events that will take place during the further sounding of that final trumpet.
The "crossing over" of the Firstfruits into the "promised land" is the initial fulfillment for the Church, as this age ends, of the prophetic drain a of the crossing of the Jordan river into the land of Canaan of the Israelites under the direction of Joshua (Josh. 1-4). The event took place on the tenth day of the first month, Nisan.
At the moment an individual sincerely repents and sincerely asks Jesus Christ to become his Preserver and Lord, expressing an honest willingness to receive Him, he is "born again" or regenerated (John 3:1-3). Through faith has the individual received an application of the cleansing blood of the Lamb of God, and by the channel of faith has that one received the life seed from Christ the Lord (John 12:24, Jas. 1:21, I Pet. 1:22-25, I John 3:9). Precisely the same principle is to be observed in the life of regenerated Christians as in the human family (Eph. 3:14-15). Spiritually the individual is like unto an infant in this world. He should be watched over by the more mature and should first be fed on the milk of the word. In the course of time, the diet would progressively include bread and then meat as it is able to be assimilated. After this experience of regeneration, the spirit of God has a more direct channel within an individual in the growth process, involving purging and consuming, illuminating and energizing for the purpose of enabling ever increasing communion with God. According to the patterns in Scripture, water baptism should follow the regeneration experience for the purposes of personal reinforcement and public witness.
"Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings . . . " (Heb. 6:1-2).