The Growing Season of the Kingdom
                                              Part 4: The Harvest Is In …
                                             (Leviticus 23:23-36, 39-43)
   We have come to the final mandated celebratory feast of the nation of Israel, …which coincided with the final harvest of the year. We have noted that the previous two feasts were timed around the harvesting of specific crops (Feast of Unleavened Bread – late March/ early April – initial Barley harvest; Feast of Weeks/ Pentecost – late May/ Early June – Wheat Harvest). Today we come to the end of the ‘growing season’ and observe the final celebrations as the grapes are harvested and processed into wine (late August/ Sept.). It is noteworthy that there are no less than three holy observances that take place during this time. Let’s go to God’s Holy Word and see if we can see NT prophecy spelled out in these OT rituals and Feasts. Read Lev.23:23-36, 39-43.
   Vs.23-25 – “… first day of the seventh month …” – We have seen throughout Scripture, … & especially in Leviticus, … the significance if the #’7′, … picturing the ‘complete work of God among man’. Seven days completed the creation of everything; The Feast of Unleavened Bread was seven complete days; Pentecost was after seven complete weeks past Passover; the year of Jubilee was after seven weeks of seven (years). Here, at the beginning of the seventh month, when all of the harvesting work is at completion, there were “…trumpet blasts …” from rams’ horns throughout the nation, signaling a day of rest. This is similar to how the year of Jubilee was started  (25:9). And even though this was the first day of the seventh agricultural month, this became the first day of their civil calendar, … their New Year’s Day (this will make more sense as we go along …).
   Vs.26-32 – “… the Day of Atonement …” – We went over this in detail when we studied Lev.16. It was the day set aside by God to have all of the sins and impurities, of all the priests and people, during the previous year atoned for/ covered. It is a beautiful ‘type’ of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished for the whole world.
   Vs.33-36, 39-43 – There are notable truths present in the Feast of Tabernacles/ Booths/ Ingathering. Because of time and space, we cannot hit them all. But there are a few that directly pertain to the NT fulfillment of this Feast that I would like to highlight. In fact, what I believe this whole 7th month shows us is a picture of Jesus’ future millennial reign on the earth.
   First, let’s start with the oddity of having a celebration at the beginning of a time (7th month) that is supposed to be the start of the last (7th is usually the completion point). We are to remember that the work of the growing season is done, taking place in the six previous months. If we go back to Genesis, we see that God ‘worked’ 6 days, and the 7th He ceased (Sabbath) from work and rested. Here in Leviticus 23, the 7th month appears to be one of rest, occurring after the 6 months of labor during the growing season. The NT application is brought to us by Rabbinical teachings and a handful of Ante-Nicene church fathers’ writings which taught that the age of man and his evil ways would end after 6,000 years, and then the 1,000 year reign of the Messiah would complete the ‘7 days of the week’ (2 Pet.3:8; Ps.90:4). I realize that this is supposition, but it is believed by the Jews to this day (the Jewish calendar year is 5782) and it was carried over into the early church (Epistle of Barnabas, chapter 15; Irenæus Against Heresies, chpt.28, sect.2 & 3). <side note: Christian Apologist Ken Ham believes 4004 years elapsed from Adam’s fall to Christ’s birth. You do the math, especially if you deduct Jesus’ 33 years of glorious Light and Life from the running total of years …>
   Another side note was brought to my attention as I studied for this message. It is in Prov.26:1, where it indicates that “… rain in harvest …” is unheard of. Again, this might be considered suppositional,  but it appears that a strong conversion-type move of God’s Spirit, … just before the last ‘harvest’, …  may be unlikely. This may give insight to some difficult verses; Dan.12:9,10; Rev.22:10,11.
   A) If I’m correct, the Millennial reign will start with a worldwide trumpet blast (Matt.24:30,31; 1 Cor.15:50-54). The remainder of the saints who died in the Lord, along with those saints still living at that time, will be resurrected to Life with Him. This may be the spiritual significance of Israel having this day as their ‘New Year’s Day’; …. something new is about to take place!
   B) The Day of Atonement seems to point to the nation of Israel’s acceptance (finally) of Jesus as their Messiah. The commanded ‘denying of self’/ ‘affliction’ is in line with Zech.12:10- 13:2. What Jesus did on the cross will be recognized and lamented over by the Jews. And God will cleanse and purify His people, Israel, as He has done for us in Christ Jesus.
   C) The Feast of Tabernacles/Booths/ Ingathering has multiple aspects of the Millennial reign within it’s observances …
   i) It is held in the seventh month, signifying a ‘completing‘, … a ‘finishing up’, if you will. The time was known for it’s thanksgiving, joy, and rest. The same, and more, will be celebrated during our Savior’s Messianic reign.
   ii) The Feast features 7 days of Offerings made to our Lord God (Lev.23:36; Num.29:12-39). The total number of sacrifices was staggering. Over the 7 day Feast, there were 70 bulls, 14 rams, and 98 lambs offered as Burnt Offerings alone. Not only are we to assume that abundant gratitude was being expressed by the offeror’s for the prosperous harvest, … but we see a prophetic statement of a worldwide curse being removed and God’s creation functioning as it was originally intended. The sway of sin will be cast away and knowing (…and being known of) God will be common place. All of creation will be surrendered/ yielded ( …what a Burnt Offering depicts) to the Messiah (Isa.2:2-5; 4:2-6; 11:1-10; 65:20-25; etc.).
   iii) The mandate from God for the nation to live in “booths”‘huts’ made from gathered greenery from living plants (Lev.23:40-43) also serves a two-fold meaning. The first is stated within the text: to remind the Israelites that they ‘lived in booths when the Lord brought them out of Egypt’. But I believe the second meaning is found in the fresh greenery used for these special booths. If one were to stand on a high mountain and glance down at the Israelites’ encampment during the time these booths were erected (there would have been hundreds of thousands of them), what would the desert/ wilderness gathering appear to be? Would it not appear that the whole of that desert plain was suddenly transformed into a lush, green orchard and vineyard? From God’s vantage point, this is what He saw; … a picture of what is to come. During God’s Son’s Millennial reign, the barren lands in God’s land will become flush with vegetation and Life (Isa.32:15; 35:1-10; 41:18-20; 55:13).
   iv) This last Millennial truth is not addressed in our text, but it was a yearly occurrence during this time; … the reaping, drying and treading out of the grape harvest before the winter months set in. The treading of the grapes was one of the most festive and joyful times of the year. It is sobering to contemplate how God uses this festive activity to describe His Son’s trampling of His enemies (Isa.63:1-6; Joel 3:13; Rev.14:17-20; 19:14-16). This is a picture of Jesus that is rarely portrayed from our pulpits today. It definitely does not fit the passive narrative that a great number of “churches” have established for our Savior and King. Evil and it’s promoters have long hindered, hurt, and even slain the Master’s servants. There will come a day when His ‘wheat’ – the ‘good stuff’ – is harvested and gathered into His Barn. Then the enemies of His Kingdom will be trampled under His feet. In that day, will the Father and the Son take great satisfaction in the trampling of His and our foes?
   …Indeed, He very well may.
   This whole chapter prophetically leads us up to His second coming; …. His second Advent. As we celebrate His humble first Advent this Christmas Day, let us turn our eyes forward to what is ahead. Scatter His seed (Word), …. turn over the soil (our heart) to receive deeply His Word, … pray for the early and latter rains (Holy Spirit), … break forth into fruit bearing splendor, … eagerly await His return in order to take us to be where He is (harvest), and rejoice as He eliminates His/our enemies and makes all things new!
   What a day that will be!
Merry Christmas, all!