THE FIRST MONTH

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THE FIRST MONTHCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. (Joel 2:23—KJV)

The former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.

Israel has two years that it celebrates. The first month of the religious year is Abib. This is the time of the Passover. In the month of Abib, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits are celebrated. These three observances symbolize the foundational work of the Christian redemption.

The first month of the business year is Tishri. The business year begins on the seventh month of the religious year, Abib.

It is my point of view that the"first month," of Joel 2:23, is referring to Tishri, the seventh month of the religious year.

The first day of Tishri is celebrated as the Blowing of Trumpets. To the present day, this is the Jewish New Year's day.

The Lord said to Moses,"Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the Lord by fire.'" (Leviticus 23:23-25)

The tenth of Tishri begins the Day of Atonement.

The fifteenth of Tishri begins the week of Tabernacles.

Such is the "first month" of Joel 2:23.

These last three observances symbolize the climatic work of the Christian redemption, and are associated with the installation of the Kingdom of God in the earth. As I see it, the spiritual fulfillments of the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles, are taking place today with those Christians who are open to the Spirit of God.

God has told us that He will give us both the former rain and the latter rain in the first month, in Tishri as I believe.

I would say, from what I have experienced since 1948, that we now spiritually are entering into Tishri. If this is the case, the Blowing of Trumpets should be operating. Isn't it true that we see an increasing emphasis on the coming of Christ, the King? Aren't we hearing about spiritual warfare and the fight against demon spirits.

Prior to our day the emphasis has been upon the good Shepherd leaving the ninety and nine to go after the lamb that is in trouble. But today God is speaking to us about His Kingdom and the war against evil spirit; about a winnowing of our personality so that which is not of Christ will be removed from us. Unquestionably a fresh wind is blowing, and this is reflected in the new choruses which sometimes announce the Kingdom of God.

Having been a Christian for over sixty years, I can tell you that the old hymns, like "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" are not as prominent in some of the churches that are pressing forward in Christ as was true in time past. There is a new sound: "Blow the Trumpet in Zion"!

The former rain began, as I understand it, with the original Day of Pentecost. Perhaps now we are entering the latter rain, the spring rain, the harvest rain. If such is the case, I believe God wants both rains to be true in the present hour. We have been built upon "Rock of Ages," "The Old Rugged Cross," and "Lead Kindly Light." We must keep in mind our foundation.

I am concerned about the children and young people. As we press forward to the understanding of the resurrection and eternal judgment, the children may not understand us. They can understand "Be careful little hands what you do."

The older hymns and choruses contain much that is practical and instructive, such as "Blessed Assurance" and "Stand Up for Jesus." Surely they have a place today, and we can gain from the lessons learned by the saints who have gone before us.

God has told us that He will give us both the planting rain and the harvest rain in the first month. This means in the aspects of redemption that we are entering now we can expect all the spiritual power of what has gone before us combined with all the spiritual power that will be issued in the period of time just prior to the return of Jesus and the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Think of it! What power is to be given in these last days! All that we read about the in the Book of Acts are to be given to us. Remember, Jesus said, "Greater works shall you do." Such works of power have not been given yet, to the best of my knowledge. But they certain shall be, because the Scriptures cannot be changed in any manner.

Perhaps Elijah, the portion, and Elisha, the double portion, are a sign of what is to come.

We notice in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation that in addition to the two lampstands there will be the two olive trees. Perhaps these two olive trees are telling us that a double portion of God's Holy Spirit is at hand so we can bear witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God.

We notice in the Day of Atonement, which is celebrated on the tenth of Tishri, that a goat was slain and its blood offered as a sin offering to make an atonement for thepeople of Israel.

In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. (Leviticus 16:16)

But there was another goat, the "scapegoat," that was not killed. The scapegoat made an atonement for Israel by carrying the sins away from the camp into the wilderness.

He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. (Leviticus 16:21,22)

Here we see the two great acts of atonement. The first act, on which the second act depends, is to shed the blood of one goat and sprinkle that blood upon and before the Mercy Seat. This act brings forgiveness to the people of Israel for all their sins.

The second act is the removal of sin, not the removal of the guilt of sin, but the removal of the sin itself.

Today's preachers and teachers may oppose the thought that God can remove the presence of sin from us, protesting that the best God can do with us is to forgive our sins. But to forgive our sins without removing the power that sin has to control our actions, assuredly is an incomplete redemption.

Now that we are living in the month of doing business, the month named Tishri, we can confess and renounce our sinful deeds, believing that God will remove them from our personality.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Someone may venture that "purify us from all unrighteousness" means purify us from all guilt. However if that were the case, the passage would be saying that God will forgive us our sin and forgive us our sins.

The Kingdom of God is not a kingdom of forgiven sinners. Rather it is a kingdom of delivered sinners who are living righteous lives in the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Otherwise the Body of Christ would practice sinful behavior.

And notice:

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:40,41)

It is my conviction that this program of the removal of the causes of sin and the sinners is taking place today. We now are at the end of the age, and the promised deliverance is taking place.

Try it for yourself. Ask the Lord Jesus to cleanse your personality of sin.

This is what will take place as an answer to that prayer. You will be going along. Suddenly the Spirit of God by one means or another will point out that you are sinning against God by a behavior you are accustomed to.

Do this. confess your sinful behavior to God. Describe it clearly. Then denounce it clearly as not worthy of the Kingdom of God. When you do this you are pronouncing judgment against Satan; so confess and denounce it clearly.

Now, renounce the behavior with all your might, declaring that you never again, as the Lord Jesus helps you, act in that manner again.

When you are tempted in the future to do this again, you will find that you now have the power to refrain from obeying this part of your sinful nature.

Can you see, in the Day of Atonement, that both forgiveness, which is of the former rain, and deliverance, which is of the spring rain, are together in the same month. This is why I like to emphasize the messages contained in the old hymns: "Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross."

This idea of standing up for Jesus was a product of the former rain, and is just as important, if not more important, while we are experiencing the harvest rain of the Spirit.

The former and the latter rain in the first month. Forgiveness and also deliverance in the first month.

We can see readily who the Blowing of Trumpets leads into the Day of Atonement. The Blowing of Trumpets speaks of the Lord Jesus, as the Commander in Chief of the army of God, coming to those who are looking for Him and declaring war on the enemy, Satan, who is in us.

Then, in the Day of Atonement, we confess and renounce the followers of Satan, who are the enemies of Christ, and thus are brought to reconciliation with God. The Day of Atonement is the Day of Reconciliation.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (II Corinthians 5:18,19)

I have mentioned that we now, symbolically, are entering the Jewish month of Tishri. This month begins with the Blowing of Trumpets, announcing the coming of Jesus to wage war against His enemies. This means Jesus may be standing up, in that God has said to Him: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool."

The Blowing of Trumpets leads us into the Day of Atonement, the day in which man is reconciled to the Father.

It is my point of view that the Day of Reconciliation may be eternal in length. God has promised that Christ's Kingdom will increase forever.

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)

If Christ's Kingdom is to increase is to have no end, then people must be being born continually. If this is true, and the Scripture cannot be altered in any manner, then new people still will be in need of reconciliation to the Father.

While there will be no fallen cherubim, or angels, or demons to harass them, and they will not have inherited a sinful nature, they still will have a will of their own. In order for them to be reconciled to God they must obey Christ implicitly. So each new person must confess and turn away from any disobedience to Christ. This is why I venture that the Day of Atonement, the Day of Reconciliation, may still be needed throughout the endless ages to come.

Included in Tishri is the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and also the feast of Tabernacles.

During the spiritual resurrection we must experience prior to the Day of Resurrection if our body is to be resurrected unto glory in the Day of the Lord, Christ is formed in our soul as it is changed from a living soul into a life-giving spirit.

At this point you might wish to consult my essay, "In What Way Is Jesus the Resurrection?"

Now we are ready for the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. This is the crowning work of the Divine redemption.

If we keep the commands of Jesus, the Father and the Son enter our transformed soul, the Spirit of God already being at home in us.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)

Paul referred to our being filled with all the fullness of God.

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)

Here is the ultimate reconciliation to God. Now we think as Christ is thinking. We speak as Christ is speaking. We act as Christ is acting. We have been crucified with Christ, as we endure the death of our soul as it becomes a life-giving spirit, and now it is Christ who is living in us.

First Christ is formed in us. Then Christ comes and dwells in that which has been formed in us.

Obviously some of what I have just written will be fulfilled completely in the coming days. However the basic feature is taking place today as we submit to the dealings of Christ until we can say, with Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ and now it is not who am living I but Christ who is living in me."

We now are in the first month, Tishri, figuratively speaking. As we follow on to know the Lord, not forsaking the old paths, we are candidates for the spiritual fulfillments of the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles.

How many believers will press on until they attain to all that God has prepared for them? In our day in America it is difficult to turn from the allurements of the world system, which is Antichrist.

Those who thus live in victory in Christ will receive a glad welcome when they die and find their place among those who are standing with Christ against all lying and all lawlessness.

It is entirely possible to live in victory in Christ and to experience all of the benefits of the latter-rain redemption. We cannot accomplish these further steps in the Divine redemption, but we can and we must ask Jesus to help us to press forward to attain to the fullness of the resurrection of spirit, soul, and finally our body in the Day of Christ.

How do you feel about this? I am determined to press forward to the mark of the high calling in Christ, and I know there are many who feel the same way.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13,14—NASB)

But what should we do about the above text?

Ask rain from the LORD at the time of the spring rain—The LORD who makes the storm clouds; And He will give them showers of rain, vegetation in the field to each man. (Zechariah 10:1)