The Growing Season of the Kingdom
Part 3 – The Harvest of the ‘Good Stuff’
A quick review:
Part 1 – Sowing and Plowing – After the early rains began, the farmer would go and scatter seed onto the field and follow that with a plowing/ turning over of the soil, … in order to bury the seeds and prepare them for germination. The players in this analogy are 1) seeds = God’s Word; 2) rain = Holy Spirit; 3) soil = our hearts. The Holy Spirit prepares our heart for His Word, … but we must maintain a non-hardened, humbled heart that is turned over to receive deeply the Words of Life.
Part 2 – Passover/ Feast of Unleavened Bread – This is all about Jesus! He is the Passover Lamb that was slain (1 Cor.5:7; Rev.5:9,10) AND His earthly Life is represented in the seven (the number ‘7’ representing ‘completeness’) day Feast of Unleavened (= ‘sinless’) Bread (Jhn.6:32-35,48-51).
We are also to remember that this Feast was timed around the initial Barley harvest. Barley was the more common grain and not as desirable for eating as wheat was. But it was grain/seed, none-the-less. These Firstfruits were brought as an offering to God for His service, …. just as those first disciples were that Jesus personally called and taught; …. breathing into them the Holy Spirit after His resurrection (Jhn.20:22). The NT references two different types of Firstfruits; 1) Jesus, the Firstfruits (though this is translated as ‘plural’ in English, the original Greek has this word as singular) of the Resurrection (1 Cor.15:20-23); and 2) the new ‘grain’/ “many seeds” that resulted from Jesus death and resurrection (Jhn.12:24; Rom.16:5 “first convert” being the same Greek word translated ‘Firstfruits’).
This brings us to Part 3 of the Kingdom’s Growing Season; the Feast of Weeks/ Pentecost. Read Lev.23:15-22. The time frame is late May/ early June per our calendar. The “… new grain to the Lord …” (v.16) is wheat, … the better grain. It was tastier and more suited for cooking. The congregation offered two loaves “… baked with leaven …” (v.17) along with multiple Burnt Offerings, a Sin Offering, and 2 Peace Offerings …. indicating, in a practical sense, the peoples’ gratitude for the bountiful grain harvest … remembering it is all about God getting the honor and praise FIRST, … before all else.
We also note God’s commanded care for the poor (v.22; also 19:9,10). The fields were not to be stripped bare so that the needy could ‘glean’ the harvested fields.
Now let’s see if we can give a NT understanding to this Feast …
1) As with the Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread, I believe this spiritual harvest has already taken place in real time. And I believe God divinely timed Pentecost (Acts 2) to complete the picture offered by the Feast of Weeks/ Pentecost in Lev.23.
2) If the Passover/ Feast of Unleavened Bread was a ‘type’ of Jesus earthly Life, …and the Firstfruits of that Life being His disciples before Pentecost, which would have those disciples fulfilling the picture of the Barley grain. Indeed, those disciples were divine ‘seed’, but they were not the ‘good stuff’ ….. yet. In fact, Jesus told those disciples to “… wait …” (Acts 1:4,5) for the complete immersion into/ with the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus promised was coming in power after He left (Jhn.16:5-14). They were sealed (Jhn.20:22) with Him, but not yet immersed in /overwhelmed by Him.
3) At Pentecost, the Firstfruits of the ‘good stuff’ (wheat) were put forth for God’s glory. We also note that seven (the number of ‘completeness’) weeks since Passover had just ended; … signifying something had just finished … and on Pentecost, … the Feast of Weeks, … the one day celebration of the wheat harvest, … a new Era is beginning. Jesus’ physical, earthly ministry is officially completed with His ascension to His Father (seven sevens just ended) and now the earthly ministry of the Holy Spirit, empowering and working through those first disciples, took over from where Jesus left off (Jhn.14:12)!
4) In our Scripture Text, remember the accompanying Offerings that were mandated? … 1 Sin Offering, … 2 Peace Offerings, … but a total of 10 Burnt Offerings were required. I believe this is significant. <What does the Burnt Offering represent?> We learned it was a picture of the offeror’s yielding and surrendering of their whole being to the purging and purifying flames of God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a Gentleman. He does not force His way into our lives and take over. We must surrender our lives, … we ‘deny ourselves’ so He can move freely and powerfully within and among us. When Jesus taught those lessons about dying to self, He did so knowing that the fullness of the Spirit, …. and the manifestation of His power, … was contingent on a yielded body … even unto death.
Remember what Jesus said about Himself in Jhn.12:24? Look at v.25:
“The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Jesus, in order to produce many seeds like Himself, had to die. And those new divine seeds that were produced, cannot produce fruit themselves unless they die also; …. by a surrendered body … and/ or by death. A surrendered life allows the Holy Spirit to have reign within the Believer. Those disciples did not look anything like Jesus until after the Holy Spirit took command. The significance of the two loaves of Bread made with Leaven (sin) is shown here. Jesus had a perfect body (unleavened); … the disciples, being vessels that the Holy Spirit would live through, did not (leavened). The Holy Spirit was working through fallen flesh and accomplishing “greater things” for the glory of God and His Son. How marvelous a salvation plan our God has put into motion; … completing His Son’s mission to “seek and save the lost” by His Holy Spirit working through our frail, yielded human flesh. How powerful, marvelous and gracious is our Lord God Almighty!!! Can we see the glorious deeds that the Holy Spirit would do through us if God willed it …. and we yielded?
We have one Feast left to study in Leviticus 23. The final harvest is coming! I can hardly wait!