Feast of the Harvest Part 1

“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

Not long after Moses communicated the Ten Commandments that the Lord God had given him for His people the Lord declared that there shall be three feast that the people should observe each year. “Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. “You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. “Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field.” (Exodus 23:14-16)

We see in the Scripture above that the Feast of the Harvest is also called the Feast of the First Fruits. First fruits is a significant practice in the Kingdom of God. God has always given man His best, His first fruits. God gave on the altar of sacrifice His only begotten Son to pay the wage of man’s sin. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God expects us to give the first of our fruits unto Him. Anything that is first, that is devoted, that has been given to us from God, belongs to God. “You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. “You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.” (Exodus 22:29-30)

All of the festivals in the Scriptures point to spiritual truths that we as Christians should know and recognize today. God’s intention is that we should learn from these festivals and should be celebrating them today. The festivals are not just a thankfulness for the blessings that the Lord has given unto His people but they are more important in that they teach us God’s purpose and plan for man’s salvation. For this reason we are looking at the Feast of the Harvest because it is more than bringing God our first fruits it is receiving His first fruit that leads us to salvation.

In the passage above we are looking at two kinds of a harvest. One harvest is an agricultural harvest of produce, or the harvest of the fruits of our labor. The blessings that God has given in our life and the strength we have received from Him in our trials. But the Feast of Harvest is much bigger than that, it is a spiritual harvest. Let us look to the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Luke 10:1-2)

Here Jesus is comparing the spiritual harvest to that of a grain harvest. Jesus bring this point even clearer in the Gospel of John that we should be working the fields of mankind to reap the spiritual fruit for the Kingdom of God. “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” (John 4:35-36)

In the Scriptures the harvest surrounding the feast of God were designed to teach us of the spiritual harvest that Jesus came to dwell among men to sow the seeds of the gospel truth. Even as He and His disciple were going about their three year ministry they were beginning to reap some of that harvest. We see here that was an earlier harvest but as the Church age continues there is a later harvest as well. As James writes, “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” (James 1:18) What we are doing now in His Great Commission can be understood as the first fruits that His work through us is producing. This implies that there would be other fruits to be harvested in the future.

Looking further we can see that the full harvest is divided into three parts. First there is the sheaf of first fruits. The first sheaf of grain was called the first fruits. The Israelites were commanded by God to bring a sheaf offering to the priest once they were in the Promised Land. “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.” (Leviticus 21:10) Now thousands of years later we see the same term used in the New Testament in describing the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20)

The sheaf offering was a pledge of a greater harvest to come. This is a beautiful picture of the Resurrection of Jesus who came out of the tomb and completed the work of redemption. For the believer in Christ that is a guarantee that we too shall be resurrected when He returns. Jesus is the pledge of the coming harvest of His saints that will be presented to the Lord God as His Bride the Church. It is the promise that all who have died trusting in Jesus for their salvation and resurrection to eternal life shall be resurrected and presented unto the Father. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)

After this the first fruits a greater harvest will follow. As we read in the next verse of 1 Corinthians, “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.” (1 Corinthians 15:23) Our risen Lord is now in Heaven sitting at the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for us. Yet we remain in this sinful body to struggle against our sinful nature by being led by His Holy Spirit. But at His coming we shall be free from the body and given a glorified body as His. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

We may today be living in this body filled with sickness and weakness as the body grows towards its death. But our all-powerful Savior will give us the victory that He has won for us over death. He will come again and take those who are His own. No longer do the followers of Jesus need to fear death for our Lord and Savior holds the keys to the gates of Hell. “And the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” (Revelation 1:18)

This is not the end of the harvest. There are always the loose ears of corn that need to be gathered. This is called gleaning and we can remember how Ruth gleaned the fields after he harvesters in the fields of Boaz. “And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” (Ruth 2:3)

There are those tribulation saints who had not heard or believed the gospel before the Church of Jesus Christ had been called out. We see then Jesus and the first fruits, the harvest of the resurrection at the rapture, and the gleaning of the saved during the seven year tribulation. Then will come the millennial reign of Christ for a thousand years in which all the saints will reign with Him. For those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus this is a bright prospect. And the question for us today is are we prepared for the coming of the Lord and the first resurrection?

In the Gospel of John we read the words of Jesus. “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.” (John 5:21) Both the Father and the Son have the power to raise the dead. It is then that Jesus speaks our text. “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, May 5, 2017

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