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 FEAST OF WEEKS
(Ro. 15:3-6, 2 Tim. 3:14-17, Hosea 12:lO, 1 Cor. 10:1-11)
1. Pentecost was the time of the wheat harvest and was celebrated on the fiftieth day from the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits (Ex. 23:16, Lev. 23:15-16).
2. After Jesus' death, resurrection, ascension and return to earth, He remained with His disciples for forty days. Then Jesus departed, ten more days passed, and then the fiftieth day He sent forth the Holy Spirit upon those who remained dedicated in obedience to equip them to begin to harvest souls (Acts 1:1-4, 2:1-41).
3. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit nineteen hundred years ago looked forward to the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of each individual disciple of Jesus Christ, as well as to a great outpouring of the Spirit during the period of the tribulation at the end of this age, for the purpose of purifying and aiding in the preparation of those as yet unprepared. (John 16:7-15, Joel 2:28-32).
THE FEAST OF WEEKS
The Feast of Weeks had its commencement on the day of the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits and anticipated the day of Pentecost, indicating a harvest, fifty days later (Ex. 23:16). The parallel between this pattern and its fulfillment in the New Testament is precise. After Christ had risen from the state of physical death, ascended and returned, He continued with the disciples for forty days, speaking to them "of the things concerning the Kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). After His departure into the heavenlies, ten days passed and then, on the very day of Israel's Feast of Pentecost and fifty days from His resurrection, He sent forth the Holy Spirit upon those disciples who remained in obedience (Acts 2:1-4).
At Pentecost, the Israelites were to "present a new grain offering to the Lord" (Lev. 23:16). The one hundred and twenty disciples, gathered in the upper room in fear of the Jews3 were the first to receive a return offering from the Lord. This "new grain" was indeed a baptism or immersion into the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and enabled the establishment of the early church in purity.
The Sheaf of Firstfruits, Jesus, had already been waved before the Lord fifty days before, heralding the barley harvest and the coming of the wheat harvest and now the time for the firstfruits of the wheat harvest had come. Peter preached his dynamic sermon under the power of the Holy Spirit, and some three thousand souls were added to the Church. A few days later, there was another significant addition, and it is recorded that "the number of men came to be about five thousand" (Acts 4:4). The harvest continued with increasing power from day to day. "And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number; to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets, and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. And also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits; and they were all being healed" (Acts 5:14-16). Great and mighty signs and miracles were performed among the people until the contact areas literally rocked under the mighty impact of The Holy Spirit through the anointed ministers. This harvest of Pentecost in the early church, as powerful as it was, is but a shadow of the coming harvest at the end of this dispensation.
Shortly after The Firstfruits Group or Bride of Christ has been joined to The Lord in The heavenly realm they will return to earth to assist in the preparation of those left behind. One of the patterns for this was set by Jesus after He was raised from the dead. He first ascended to The Father and then returned on the 16th day of the month, appearing to the disciples and being seen of them for a period of forty days (John 20:17-19, Acts 1:3). Following this taking up and return of the Firstfruits Group, if the Festival pattern is to remain conformable, the truly dedicated Christians will spend the entire fifty day period in solemn preparation and on the very day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit will fall on those who have prepared themselves in a fullness far exceeding the outpouring on the one hundred and twenty disciples (Joel 2:28-32, John 14:12). Then will that portion of the Church minister in wisdom and power to demonstrate the Lord's provision and to gather a great harvest. However initially, comparatively few will have sufficient maturity to wield, to any great degree, the power of the Spirit of God. Insufficient preparation will require make-up time to secure the needed teaching, experience and protection to qualify for effective service. This make-up time allowed by the Lord is commonly known as the "Great Tribulation." This period of intense pressure on the earth will encourage rapid maturing among hundreds of Thousands out of the billions (Matt. 24:21).
The extreme conditions producing insecurity and fear that will accompany this period of intense pressure will be brought about entirely as a result of the selfishness of men. It is permitted by the Lord that multitudes of the ignorant and obstinate might have the opportunity to learn and respond to His ways and secure some protection "from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3:10).
The prophet Joel, speaking of this day, indicated that there would be multitudes in the valley of decision!" (Joel 3:14). There will be multitudes, who will reject the Lord's warning and instruction and suffer severe consequences. However, those who will respond will constitute a great harvest for the Lord as this age ends.
In Luke 11:5-10 there is a parable that Jesus told about a "friend" who seeks bread at night, and receives an answer from his would-be benefactor. "Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything" (Lk. 11:7). This is a parallel to the parable of the "virgins" in Matthew 25. The door was shut and the "children" or "prudent virgins" were on the inside "in bed" indicating that the marriage was being consummated. The "friend" or "foolish virgins group was on the outside, unprepared and knocking even as in Matthew 25:11. Now notice Luke 11:8-10. "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it shall be opened." Here again we have the assurance that during the tribulation, after the midnight hour, those who require help may receive that which they need in order to, eventually have the door opened to them. The "friend" asked for three loaves and is finally assured of as many of the three loaves as he needs. Presumably, since he asked for three loaves, he would get what he asked for. These three loaves correspond to the "asking, "seeking," and "knocking" and it is not until the third loaf, the knocking, that the assurance is given that the door will be opened. These three loaves correspond to the thirty, sixty, and one hundred-fold groups of Christians (Matt. 13:1-9, 23). It is only the third loaf or the one hundred-fold disciples who will have "knocked" so as to have the door opened for them to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb in the heavenly realm (Rev. 19:9). The Bride of Christ, of course, has previously entered into this estate. The thirty and sixty-fold disciples will remain on earth respectively to enter into the earth-based kingdom.
Only the one hundred-fold, "full corn in the ear" disciple, will have the necessary apparel to attend the wedding supper. In Jesus' parable recorded in Matt. 22:1-14, there is a certain "friend" symbolically expelled or excluded from the guests assembled for the wedding supper because he did not have on the specified wedding garment. The king in this account speaks to his slaves, "'The wedding (supper) is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And he was speechless. There the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called but few are chosen'" (Matt. 22:8-14).
Apparel in Scripture is often used to symbolize the condition of the spirit's garments, the soul and physical body (Job 29:14, Ps. 132:16, Isa. 52:1, 61:10, Zech. 3:4, Rev. 3:5, 3:18, 4:4, 7:9-14, 19:8). The outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth speaks of the tribulation period and in this particular case, the most intense portion of that period "the bowls of wrath" of Revelation 15:6-16:21.
Those who have been left after the departure of the Bride, because of improper dress, are encouraged to secure the proper garments. "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight. And be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast (marriages), so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks" (Lk. l2:35-36). They are to be prepared and thus avoid the fate of the "man not dressed in wedding clothes," symbolic of the many who are content to secure less than the three loaves necessary for entrance into the heavenly feast.
Preparation for the return from the wedding of their master, the Lord Jesus, will be facilitated by the ministry of the firstfruits or Bride Company. Their ministry, during the period of the tribulation, will be a fulfillment of Revelation 3:20, where Jesus is described as knocking during the closing of the Laodicean era. The expectancy of those remaining is to be such that they will "immediately open the door to Him."
In the course of time, sooner or later, the Christian may arrive at the understanding that the initial experience of regeneration is not the ultimate experience. For, even as with the youngster of earthly parents, growing up to the physical stature of the parent, and perhaps having acquired a good education, is not the ultimate in life. So similarly that individual may realize that the Heavenly Father has planned greater opportunities and realizations spiritually than he has previously been aware of.
After regeneration the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the individual is that of the application of "fire" to produce change (John 3:5-6, Matt. 3:10-12, 7:17-19, Col. 2:11-12). Since God does not use any false symbols, reflection on the work of the Holy Spirit in relation to the activity of fire will facilitate understanding. Basically, fire has four activities. It consumes. It illuminates or gives light. It energizes or provides power. It imparts heat and warmth. The first activity is that of the purging and complete consuming of the carnal nature within. This is symbolized by the supernatural fire which fell upon certain sacrifices referred to in the Old Testament and consumed them (Lev. 9:24, Judges 6:21, I Chron. 21:36, II Chron. 7:1). Once the fire had been kindled on the altar in the outer court of the tabernacle, it was never to go out (Lev. 6:13). The second activity is that of illumination, for it is recorded that through the ministries in the Body of Christ, the holy Spirit is to guide us into all truth that we might walk in the light of the continuing revelation of Jesus Christ and His Word to our hearts (Eph. 4:11-16, John 16:13, I John 1:7, Eph. 5:14-18). This is symbolized in the Old Testament by the lampstand in the Holy Place which gave light to the priests as they ministered to the Lord. The third activity is to provide divine energy and power for victorious living (Ro. 8:11-13, Gal. 5:l6-26). The fourth activity is that of the provision of healing heat and warmth to accelerate growth for "the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Ho. 5:5). To summarize then, the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the individual involves purging and consuming, illuminating and empowering for the purpose of enabling ever-increasing communion with God. This communion with God through the Holy Spirit is symbolized in the Old Testament tabernacle by the fiery glory cloud which hovered over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies (Ex. 29:43).
In the days of the first Pentecost the Spirit was shed forth in great profusion. A special measure of grace was given together with special gifts. It has been termed the "early rain". In the magnitude of this impartation, great numbers received empowerment for personal change and the ability to minister in power to others. For many this impartation came through the direct imposition of an apostle's hands. However, our Lord prophesied that the virgins would become drowsy and fall asleep. Again He stated specifically that although the good seed had been sown, while men were sleeping, an enemy came and sowed tares also. Yet once more He stated clearly that night would come during which no man would be able to work.
Therefore, during the many centuries following the Apostolic Church there has been deep slumber and the Spirit has not manifested as in the days of the "early rain." Because the Church of today has little power with God, a great amount of empowerment is not being transmitted by the hands of the clergy. Yet, as has been mentioned, the hour is very near when the "latter rain" is to be poured out upon all those who ready themselves to receive it (Isa. 55:10-11, Joel 2:23, 3:28-29, Acts 14:15-17, Jas. 5:7). The Holy Spirit's attention is upon those who require it and the potential for growth is dependent upon the motivation for growth, the knowledge of what is available for growth and the willingness and determination to implement that knowledge consistently.
It should be sufficiently evident that the one who has only intellectually accepted the Christian ethic is critically ill-prepared in that position. A commitment needs to be made which will initiate the process of regeneration. Then the desire must grow to know and to live in accordance with the Law of God. The Law of God must then be progressively integrated, being woven by the working of the Word and the Spirit until beautiful garments are the result. The full working or weaving is possible only through a spirit-sanctified life.
"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, and laying on of hands . . . (Heb. 6:1-2).