PRESSING PAST PENTECOST: SIXTEEN
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
(“Pressing Past Pentecost: Sixteen” is taken from The Feasts of the Lord, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries)
Isaiah, Chapter Twelve
Table of Contents
The Law of God
Completion of the Harvest Season
An Increase in Available Glory
Three Holy Convocations
The First Reaping
The Second Reaping
The Third Reaping
The Perfecting of the Church
Three Holy Convocations
Isaiah, Chapter Twelve
In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of John we find these words:
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:37,38)
What connection does the statement about “rivers of living water” have with the feast of Tabernacles, for it was during the “great day” (the eighth day—Simchat Torah) of Tabernacles that Jesus spoke these words?
Perhaps the connection is that the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles is the setting up of the Throne of God in the heart of the Christian. The Holy Spirit flows as a river from the Throne of God, from nowhere else (Ezekiel 47:1; Revelation 22:1). When God is enthroned in the heart of the saint, the River of Life will flow forth for the healing of the nations.
The concept of the inner River of Life is found in Isaiah, Chapter 12, a passage of Scripture that the Jews associate with the feast of Tabernacles.
“Behold, God is my salvation;”
Let us repeat the message of the feast of Tabernacles. The fullness of salvation is not another spiritual principle or secret to add to our collection. God Himself is our goal. God is our salvation. Every other goal is in danger of becoming idolatry.
“I will trust, and not be afraid:”
The word trust is significant here. The experience of Tabernacles is characterized by a restful trust in the Lord, an abiding in Christ, a fearless, secure repose on the Rock of Ages. This kind of calm resting in the strength of Christ is an important part of the daily life of victory in Jesus.
“For the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song;”
It is not that the Lord merely gives us strength or gives us a song. He Himself is the strength. He Himself is the song.
Marriage to Christ, the possession of God Himself, is the greatest attainment of the Christian discipleship. All the other aspects of salvation are means toward this supreme end. He who is married to the Lord Jesus Christ has inherited all things. He who has rejected Christ has lost all things.
“He also is become my salvation. Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”
What or who, are the “wells of salvation”? Consider the following:
… out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
… and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23)
From the above passage it sounds as though the Christians are the “wells of salvation.” The feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled when God and Christ take up their abode in the heart of the Christian saint.
The Law of God
The feast of Tabernacles is associated with obedience to the written Word, the Law, of God. Notice that John 14:23, a statement referring to the Christian fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, shows us that there is a relationship between obeying the Word of Christ and the dwelling of the Godhead in us: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
In Deuteronomy 31:10,11: “… in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he will choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing” (see also Nehemiah 8:13-18).
The hearing and keeping of God’s law is linked with the feast of Tabernacles. The ultimate expression of the Law of God occurs when the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit rule in the heart of the saint.
Completion of the Harvest Season
The feast of Tabernacles signals the completion of the harvest season: “… And the feast of ingathering (Tabernacles), which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field” (Exodus 23:16).
The completion of the harvesting of the Christian personality by the Lord is the redemption of his mortal body. The redeeming of our body is an important part of salvation by faith in Christ:
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
There is coming an adoption of the physical body. Our inner, spiritual nature is born of God. Our mortal body has not been born of God although it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the tabernacle of God. The adoption of the body, its redemption to eternal life, is the consummation of the Christian salvation.
From our point of view, the churches have not paid nearly enough attention to the redemption of the physical body as part of salvation by faith. We have not always explained the close relationship and interaction between the pursuit of the overcoming life now and the receiving of bodily redemption at the appearing of the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:11; II Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 3:11; I John 3:3; for example).
The redemption of the body (remember that the Spirit of God dwells in our physical body—I Corinthians 6:13-19) has not been pointed to as the climax of the maintenance of victorious faith in Christ.
It appears the redemption of our body (when it is given any thought at all) is regarded by the churches as being an external event over which we have little or no control, such as the planet Earth slowing down and finally falling into the sun.
Such inevitability is not the case at all. Physical death is not a “natural” state of man although Satan would enjoy having us think so.
Physical death is a major part of the original curse on mankind and is the perpetual, direct, and certain consequence of sin and rebellion.
Death, physical and spiritual, is an enemy that is to be destroyed on the basis of Jesus’ finished work on Calvary. Physical death shall be destroyed as soon as the faith and holiness of the Body of Christ reach the required level (in association with the return of Christ to the earth).
Neither spiritual nor physical death are “natural” states of being. Death is the product of the work of the enemies of God and man. Death (separation from the eternal Life of God) was destroyed legally on the cross of Calvary and is destroyed actually as the Spirit of Christ works through the joyous obedience and faith of the members of His Body.
Begin to get in your personality a spirit and attitude of war, of faith, of courage, of casting out the devil, that our mighty Christ maintains toward death—the archenemy of mankind.
May we add that we do not support those who allow themselves to be deceived to the point where they claim to have redeemed bodies now. Even to suggest such a thing is to be deluded and snared. Anyone who thinks he possesses a redeemed body now can prove it easily by passing through the wall of a house or by flying through the air.
It is equally a snare and a delusion to relegate the redemption of the body of the saint to an external event that will include all believers regardless of their state of spiritual maturity—an event unrelated to the maturing faith of the victorious saints.
An Increase in Available Glory
The writer subscribes to the teaching of I Thessalonians 4:15-17 and to everything else the Apostle Paul wrote. We know the Lord Jesus will descend from Heaven with the shout of war. We know the dead in Christ will rise and the purified remnant left on the earth will be transformed into immortality and caught away in clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air.
We know this event will take place literally at the coming of the Lord.
The Holy Spirit is warning us that many church members of today are not prepared spiritually for the coming of Christ. They are not living victoriously in Christ. They will not be entrusted with roles of responsibility and power in the Kingdom Age that is near at hand.
They will not receive a glorified body. Only the victorious saints, the overcomers, those who, like Paul, have attained to the earlier resurrection by coming into union with the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, will be raised, caught up to meet the Lord, and clothed with a body like the body of the Lord. These are the members of the royal priesthood. They have overcome the world, Satan, Antichrist, and their own lusts and self-will.
Today is a time of preparation. We are to be prepared by receiving an ever-increasing amount of virtue and strength from the living Lord, Christ. Such virtue and strength is available now to the seeking disciple.
It appears to be true that the majority of the Christian people will continue in deception until the coming of the Lord.
When we halt for a moment our many activities and pray sincerely enough and long enough to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, we may discover He is commanding us to wash our garments in the blood of the Lamb and to prepare ourselves for an increase in spiritual strength and victory. He now is ready to lead us into the fullness of God, into the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles.
The feast of Tabernacles of the old covenant will have been fulfilled in the new covenant when our physical body has been redeemed and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are abiding in Their fullness in our whole personality—spirit, soul, and body.
The redemption of our mortal body by a fullness of the resurrection life being developed in us now, plus the donning of the heavenly body that has its rise before the Throne of God as our mortal body is sown to death in the present hour, plus the coming to dwell in us of the fullness of God, compose the consummation—the completeness and perfection of the Christian redemption.
The feast of Tabernacles, marking the completion of the harvesting of all the fruits of the earth, was celebrated by the Hebrews with the greatest joy and rejoicing. When God and Christ through the Holy Spirit come to us in Their fullness in the Day of the Lord we will experience such joy, peace, and rest—the fullness of the Divine Glory—that it will require a redeemed body to contain it all.
Our many possessions and activities shrink in value in our eyes when compared with His Presence. Our idols are placed in perspective and we can see them for what they truly are. He is God and must be the focus of our attention at all times. He will be the focus at all times if we love and serve Him as He deserves to be loved and served.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21-23)
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)
Three Holy Convocations
We have mentioned before that the seven feasts were divided into three major convocations:
- Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits.
- Pentecost (the feast of Weeks).
- Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles.
When we were describing the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ we stated that the first convocation (Passover) portrays Christ as the High Priest of God; the second major convocation (Pentecost) portrays Christ as the Prophet of God; and the third convocation (Tabernacles) portrays Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty: (Deuteronomy 16:16)
Now that we are discussing the redemption of the individual believer, let us look at the three major convocations as representing three reapings of the believer’s personality.
It may be somewhat enlightening to think of the three reapings as three deaths and three resurrection which the saint experiences. We may think of the three deaths as the death of the gate (leading into the Courtyard of the Tabernacle of the Congregation), the death of the door (leading into the Holy Place), and the death of the veil (leading into the Most Holy Place).
The First Reaping
Although the Godhead is One and acts as One, it appears the Lord Jesus Christ is especially prominent in the first reaping, the death and resurrection typified by our entrance through the gate of the Courtyard of the Tabernacle. The first death and resurrection are typified also by the first of the three major convocations of the feasts of Israel (the feast of Unleavened Bread—Deuteronomy 16:16 above) and by the exodus from Egypt and crossing of the Red Sea.
We experience the first reaping, so to speak, when we accept the Lord Jesus as the atonement for our sins and put no confidence in our own ability to satisfy God by our righteous behavior. We no longer trust in our self-righteousness or our keeping of religious laws, and cast ourselves on the righteousness that is of God by faith in Christ.
The first death is death to the world. It is followed by the judgment of God on the gods of the world who have kept us in bondage. Calvary is the judgment of God on the gods of this age. The first death is followed by a first resurrection—a resurrection to the righteousness of God through Christ.
We walk from darkness into the light of God’s Presence. We now are legally members of the Kingdom of God and eligible to press into the Kingdom. We are born again of God. We are baptized in water in obedience to God’s command, portraying the fact that the authority and power of the kingdom of darkness have been left behind and we now are God’s servants.
The first reaping occurs instantly. By faith we reckon ourselves dead with Christ and by faith we reckon ourselves alive with the resurrected Christ. Our new born-again personality is raised to sit with Christ in God. It is an instant death and an instant resurrection. From this time forth we walk in the righteousness of Christ that has been assigned freely (imputed) to us. We are clothed with His own righteousness.
The Second Reaping
The second reaping is to the Holy Spirit. It is typified by the door of the Tabernacle. It is typified also by the second major convocation—Pentecost (the feast of Weeks), and by the giving of the Law on Sinai.
We experience the second reaping as we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit and set out to walk in obedience to the law of the Spirit of life. We forsake our fleshly lusts and seek to live in the discipline of the Spirit, putting to death the deeds proceeding from the lusts of our physical body, as the Spirit enables us.
The death of the door includes confessing and resisting our sins. It is the judgment of God coming on the sin that is in us. The second reaping results in a second resurrection—the resurrection of the power of the Holy Spirit working in our life. It is life lived in the Spirit.
We come to know the Holy Spirit in two ways: first, as the One who gives us gifts and ministries so we can contribute, and also receive from fellow saints, the grace of Christ. Christ’s grace comes through the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, building us up into the unity of the faith, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Second, we come to know the Holy Spirit as the One who brings forth in us the fruit of Christ-likeness: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. The Spirit who dwells in us yearns over us with a godly jealousy. He wars against Satan, against the spirit of the world, and against our fleshly lusts.
The second reaping occurs progressively, taking place over a period of time as the Holy Spirit leads us into various circumstances. We do not obtain release from our sinful tendencies in a moment. In actual experience, our release from the bondages of evil is a daily dying and a daily renewing of life as the Holy Spirit brings us down to the death of the cross and then imparts Divine Life to us so we can overcome evil with good.
The Holy Spirit keeps bringing to us the virtue of the broken body and shed blood of Christ so we can keep overcoming the wickedness that is in us and surrounds us. The second reaping occurs slowly, proceeding from our daily dying to the lusts of our flesh. Death, life! Death, life! Death, life! Will it never end? Yes it will, if we do not cease pressing forward but remain faithful to the dealings of the Lord with us.
The Third Reaping
The third reaping brings us into a clearer knowledge of the Father. The third reaping is typified by the veil of the Tabernacle, the division between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. It is typified also by the third major convocation (Tabernacles) and by the crossing of the Jordan River.
We experience the third reaping when we press past Pentecost, coming to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. We determine that we want to become the servant of the Lord. We present ourselves before Him so He may use us as He will in His Kingdom for eternity.
The third reaping concerns the death of our self-will. It is accompanied by the judgment of God on us as a person. The third reaping will be climaxed by the resurrection of our mortal body to glory at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds with the saints and holy angels.
Having pressed into the third area we are walking more in the image of Christ. We are fighters against the enemies of the Lord. We are part of God’s “Servant” who is described in the Book of Isaiah. We are becoming one of God’s kings, ruling over our allotted portion of God’s creation. We are becoming one of God’s priests, interceding before Him and bringing the knowledge and Presence of the Lord to those in need.
The third reaping occurs over a period of time as we are brought into the death and resurrection of Christ. This is the suffering of the righteous person being made perfect. The suffering creates in us obedience to the Father.
For example: the good we do is said to be evil; our justice is taken away; we are humiliated without reason; we suffer wrong at the hands of our brothers; God deals with us endlessly, night and day, testing every thought, every word, every motive. We behold wrong and are forbidden by the Lord to criticize. We become blind and deaf in the Lord. All our “springs” arise in Him. He becomes the source of our life. We no longer are permitted to indulge in the self-seeking that other believers practice.
The ability to obey the Father in every situation grows in us over a period of time. The fullness of the reward that results from the third reaping is instantaneous. Glory will be given us in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
If we are willing to allow the Father to conduct this final reaping of our personality according to His own satisfaction, our reward that will come from Heaven will be beyond our ability to conceive in the present hour. The sufferings may be prolonged and, at times, intense. Compared with the glory that will be revealed in us the sufferings are not worthy of mention. Let us press forward to the fullness of Christ.
The idea of the three major reapings is important. The concept appears many times in the Scriptures, such as in the three areas of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the three convocations of Israel; the thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and hundredfold of the parable of the sower in Mark, Chapter Four; the fruit, more fruit, and much fruit of John, Chapter Fifteen; the three levels of Noah’s ark; the three anointings of David; and in several other biblical illustrations and incidents.
Paul was caught up to the third heaven. Hosea declares: “After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight (Hosea 6:2).
The three reapings are seen most clearly in the design of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, where we have the Courtyard, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. Notice that the three areas are levels of holiness. We are to be growing in holiness every day of our Christian discipleship.
The first area is that of initial salvation. Everyone at this level has been washed in the blood of the Lamb and will be saved from destruction in the Day of Judgment.
The Courtyard was surrounded by the linen fence of righteousness. It was lighted by the sun, indicating that Christ was crucified out in the open where He can be seen plainly by the lost. The sunlight reveals also that this area is for the saved nations of the earth, whereas the Holy Place and Most Holy Place typify the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the royal priesthood, the Kingdom of God.
The second area is that of the ministry of the Church. This is a priestly level. It is the place where the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit are causing Christ to be formed in the Body of Christ.
The Holy Place of the Tabernacle speaks of the Church partaking of the broken body and shed blood of the Lamb of God, of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and of the Spirit-filled prayer and worship that ascend from the Body of Christ to the Father in Heaven.
The purpose of the Holy Place is to bring us to the God of the Most Holy Place.
The second area was lighted at night by the Lampstand. This signifies the ministries and activities of the Holy Place will be directed by the Holy Spirit during the evening of the Day of the Lord. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit cannot be understood or appropriated by any individual who is not a member of the royal priesthood. All that is conducted here is to be under the supernatural guidance of the Spirit.
The third area, the Most Holy Place, is that of perfected holiness and obedience, of the fullness of God’s Glory, of the fullness of authority and power, of the image of Christ created in the saints, and of the disciple’s union with the Persons of the Father and the Son through the Person of the Holy Spirit.
The third level is lighted neither by the sun nor the Lampstand but by the Glory of God shining from between the cherubim that overshadow the Mercy Seat. The Throne of God and of the Lamb is here, having been established forever in the heart of the saint.
The first area leads into the second. The second area leads into the third. We finally will arrive at the fullness of Christ if we follow on to know the Lord.
At this time God is establishing in His Kingdom ranks of authority and power. In order to attain to and remain in the first rank we must agree to all God demands of us. At each point of challenge we must relinquish our grasp on survival, security, pleasure, and personal ambition and commit our welfare to Christ. There can be no area of our thinking, speaking, and doing that is not completely submitted to Christ’s will for our life.
Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:1-3)
And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. (Luke 13:32)
The Perfecting of the Church
To this point in our study we have discussed the physical description of the seven feasts of the Lord, how they were observed literally. Then we mentioned the way in which the feasts portray the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Next, we stated that the seven feasts typify the process of redemption working in the life of the individual Christian as he or she is brought from the lowest pit of bondage all the way to the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
The remainder of the study addresses the manner in which the feasts of the Lord symbolize the perfecting of the Christian Church, the Body of Christ; and finally how they typify the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The process of the redemption of the believer, and the perfecting of the Christian Church, are closely related. The perfecting of the Church depends on the perfecting of each member of the Body.
There are some thoughts, however, we may wish to consider. Individual disciples are free to press into Christ and to work with the Holy Spirit on their own time schedule. Meanwhile the Christian Church as a whole is moving ahead on many fronts.
It is our point of view that all true Christians are members of the Christian Church, the Bride of the Lamb. We believe also that before Jesus returns there will take place a worldwide revival in which multitudes of people will believe and be baptized, and after that there will be a reduction in number of those who profess faith in Christ and only a purified remnant will be ready to meet the Lord when He comes. It may be true that the majority of believers will not be raised until the end of the thousand-year period. The Bride finally will be without blemish. Many are called but few are chosen.
As we look about us we can observe Christians making headway as they progress toward maturity in Christ. Not all groups of Christians are at the same point, some are further along in holiness and spiritual understanding. The Holy Spirit is working with each group that will cooperate with Him.
When we are discussing the Church of Christ we of necessity are discussing the Temple of God. The Church of Christ is being created by the Lord as a dwelling place for God Almighty in the earth.
It is impossible, in the present hour, for God to live among men—God being who He is and what He is, and we being who we are and what we are. Nevertheless, it is God’s intention to live and rule in the earth among His creatures. His purposes and workings are directed toward this end (Exodus 25:8).
God is perfectly at rest in His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, because Christ is righteous, holy, and obedient to God—always doing the things that please the Father. God wants more “living stones” in His Temple. Therefore He has “broken” Christ, so to speak, and shed His blood, making possible the creation of a bride for the Lamb and also an enlargement of God’s Temple, His dwelling place in the earth.
The Church begins as assemblies of believers. These are the local churches. When God is finished, every believer will have been created in his individual place in the Temple of God, the Wife of the Lamb, the holy city, the new Jerusalem. This is the destiny of the Church and of the individual disciples as well.
Three Holy Convocations
We have mentioned previously that the seven feasts of the Lord were grouped into three major gatherings or convocations: Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The three gatherings portray symbolically the development of the Church, the Body of Christ.
Passover and the Week of Unleavened Bread emphasize the Church as assemblies of the redeemed, covered with the blood of God’s Lamb, baptized in water, and basking in the light of His acceptance. God’s righteousness has been assigned to each member on the basis of his or her receiving the atonement made by Christ on the cross.
The assemblies of the redeemed are the first stage of the development of the Church of Christ. There are hundreds of thousands of such assemblies of God’s people throughout the earth today of various persuasions and backgrounds.
The second gathering was Pentecost, the feast of Weeks. The corresponding area of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was the Holy Place. The Holy Place was dominated by the golden Lampstand. If the seven lamps of the Lampstand ceased to burn, the other two furnishings of the Holy Place, the Table of Showbread and the Altar of Incense, could not be seen.
We understand from the first chapter of the Book of Revelation that the Lampstand represents the Church:
… and the seven candlesticks [lampstands] which thou sawest are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20)
The feast of Pentecost and the Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation both portray the Christian Church at its second stage of development. At this level the Church no longer consists only of assemblies of believers covered with the Passover blood. There now is the beginning of the transformation into the Body of Christ.
The Lampstand, with its two sets of side-branches, represents the twofold aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church of Christ:
- The manifestation of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit.
- The fruit of holy moral conduct grows in each member of the Body of Christ as the result of the Holy Spirit abiding in him.
Gifts of power and revelation added to righteous and holy conduct constitute the light of the world. All proceed from Christ who is being formed in the members of the Body of Christ.
During the celebration of Pentecost two large loaves of the finest wheat flour, baked with leaven, were waved before the Lord. The two loaves represent the double portion of the Holy Spirit that is to be poured on the Church just before the coming of the Lord.
The outpouring of the Spirit that will accompany the transition from the Church Age to the Kingdom Age is typified also by the two sets of fifty clasps, one gold and one bronze, that were located over the veil of the Tabernacle—the point at which the Holy Place passed into the Most Holy Place. A Pentecost of glory and a Pentecost of judgment will come upon the Church as it moves from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place, from the Church Age to the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
The fine flour represents the righteousness and purity of Christ that have been wrought in the substance of the Church. The leaven speaks of the sinful nature that still is in us and also of the new leaven of the Kingdom of God that is expanding in us.
The third major gathering was the feast of Tabernacles. When the Church has attained the desired level of maturity, the Father and the Son through the fullness of the Holy Spirit will establish Their eternal residence in the Church.
The union of Christ with His Church will take place in a firstfruits of His Church at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, when the Lord descends from Heaven. By the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, as we understand the Divine plan, the entire Church, the Wife of the Lamb, will have been reconciled to the Lord. Then the holy city, the new Jerusalem, will descend from the new heaven and be established for eternity on the new earth.
We now shall review the seven feasts as they portray the maturing of the Church, keeping in mind that the perfecting of the Church requires the perfecting of each member of the Church in that the Church is composed of the redeemed believers.
When we consider the exodus of Israel from the land of Egypt we see a picture of the Church of Christ coming out of slavery to the God of the present wicked age. The blood of the Lamb covers the Church. Therefore, the judgment of God “passes over” the Church as the Lord God executes judgment on the unclean evil lords of the darkness of the world.
Although such an escape occurs every time an individual cleaves in faith to Christ, the most complete fulfillment of the symbolism of the exodus will take place as the Lord Jesus sends the great tribulation on the earth and then gloriously removes His Church from the cruel bondage of the Satan-controlled spirit of the world.
It is helpful to realize Israel is one, whether we are studying the Old Testament or the New Testament. The called-out people of God, the Seed of Abraham, God’s kings and priests, are one Church. The new covenant always is addressed to “Israel,” the people of God whether the individual believers are Jewish or Gentile by natural birth (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Hebrews 10:15-17).
The things that happened to Israel are for our instruction and admonition on whom the end of the age has come. The coming out of Israel from Egypt under the hand of God was our coming out. First, the Church came out of Egypt physically, as a figure of the spiritual exodus that was to come. Now the Church is coming out of the spiritual bondage of darkness, out from the authority and power of the Pharaoh of the world (Satan). Under the old covenant the Church was protected by the blood of carefully chosen lambs. Under the new covenant the Church is protected by the Lamb whom God has chosen—Christ.
When Israel followed Moses through the Red Sea the authority and power of Egypt were left behind. Pharaoh and his army attempted to pursue God’s servants. The Egyptians were drowned in the process. The “leaven” of Egypt, to speak in a figure, was destroyed by the power of God’s judgment.
The Church today follows Christ through the waters of baptism. Water baptism is a portrayal of the destruction of the authority and power of the spirit of the world, as far as the individual being baptized is concerned.
The Church takes its place with the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, and also is raised spiritually to sit with Christ in the heavenlies at the right hand of the Father. Satan attempts to pursue the Church, but Satan never can follow the Church through the cross of Christ. The cross is Satan’s end.
The authority of Satan was destroyed in the heart of the earth as God’s chosen Conqueror, Christ, became the Redeemer of mankind—the One who, through the enabling wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, paid the full price of redemption for every human being.
Satan cannot destroy the validity of that transaction by any means whatever.
The Church of Christ comes up from the waters of baptism, as did Israel from the Red Sea, and stands at the beginning of the “wilderness area. The wilderness area is a place of purification for the Church (reminding us of the purification of Queen Esther).
The Church is “born again” into the Kingdom of God by the Spirit of God. At this point the Church is legally free from the bondage of the spirit of the world. However, the process of separating the Church from every trace of the power and influence of Satan has just commenced.
The Church is the firstfruits, after Christ, of the earth. It is God’s first reaping of mankind. The Church has access to the heavenlies and holds the keys of the Kingdom of God.
Through the Holy Spirit the Church is seated at the right hand of the Father in Christ. Whatever the Church binds on earth is bound in the heavens. Whatever the Church looses on the earth is loosed in the heavens.
The Church, when it is living and acting in the Spirit of God, possesses the full authority of Christ. The Church is the light of the world, the ambassador of Christ, Jacob’s ladder, the Body of Christ on earth and in Heaven.
The Church is the Kingdom of God. It is in the victorious saints of the church that the laws of the Kingdom will first be kept in the earth. The Church is the beloved of the Lord Jesus and is the center of His attention. The Church is Mount Zion, the holy dwelling place of God in Christ.
The life of the Church is the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The body and blood of Christ are the food and drink by which the Church lives.
There is a tremendous amount of evil in the world, evil that the Church cannot overcome by its own goodness. When enough evil encompasses the Church, the Church becomes bowed in bitterness and discouragement. The body and blood of Christ is the “good” by which the Church is able to shake off the darkness and overcome the evil that is in the world.
Although the Church on earth is made up of saved flesh-and-blood people, there yet is another aspect of the Church.
The Church begins as the assemblies of the redeemed. Because of the continual eating and drinking of the body and blood of Christ, and through many additional services of the Spirit of God, a miraculous transformation take place in the Church. It becomes Divine in Substance and nature, being filled with the Person of the Lord God of Heaven.
The Church is created on the Substance of Christ just as Eve was created on the substance of Adam. The new creation that is fashioned is not adamic flesh and blood; rather it is of the Substance of Christ Himself. The true Church, that which is created from the body and blood of Christ, is born of God.
The true Church will emerge from the assemblies of the redeemed just as a beautiful butterfly emerges from the cocoon. The true Church is without spot or wrinkle. The true Church is without blemish of any kind whatever.
There are two aspects of Christendom. There are the assemblies of the believers on the earth, and then there is the one true Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb. The Church is the Wife of the Lamb because the food and drink of the Church is the body and blood of God’s Lamb. The Church is born from above, not from the earth.
Although the Church begins as groups of saved people of various beliefs and cultural backgrounds and practices, the true Church is not the gathering together of these diverse groups of the saved. The true Church is created from the believers by the working of the Holy Spirit, employing the substance and nature of Christ.
When God has completed the fashioning of the Bride of the Lamb, the heavenly Eve, she will be a marvelous creature indeed. She will be in the image of her Lord, Christ. She will be beautiful, holy, righteous—a perfect helpmate for Christ in every detail.
The Church, the Bride of the Lamb, will not have been made perfect until the thousand-year Kingdom age has been completed, according to our understanding. It is at the time of the creation of the new heaven and earth, the Scripture informs us, that the Bride will descend from God from the new Heaven. Until that moment she is being made ready.
It is our interpretation of the Scriptures that only part of the Wife of the Lamb, a firstfruits of the Church, will be ready when the Lord appears. There is a first resurrection from among the dead. Those who attain to the first resurrection are blessed and holy, being filled with the Life of Christ. They will be raised and will ascend to meet Him in the air. They will be revealed together with Him.
Perhaps the remainder of God’s elect, of true Israel, will be taught and strengthened by the initial company until all Israel is ready for resurrection and glorification. The concept of the part coming out until the whole has been reconciled to God follows the type of the two anointings of David: first, as king of Judah; second, as king of all Israel. Another type is the separation of the Ark from the Tabernacle of the Congregation until the Ark and the remainder of the Tabernacle were brought together again in the Temple of Solomon.
There is no question that there will be levels of attainment in the Kingdom. It may be true that at the coming of the Lord those who have borne fruit to the hundredfold level will sit on the highest thrones. Other believers will also be of the royal priesthood but not endued with the total authority assigned to those who have given all to Christ.
The idea of there being ranks in the Kingdom of God has much support in the Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments. The hundredfold saints will be rewarded according to their attainment in Christ.
The fact that only Peter, James, and John, were permitted to view the transfiguration of Christ adds support to our view that the Lord will bring in the Kingdom with a warlike remnant of believers.
The days of tribulation that even now are upon us will result in the dividing of the Church into a holy remnant and the balance of professing Christians. There will come forth a Gideon’s army, and through this small number of “Israelites” the armies of darkness will be put to flight. Then all Israel will join in the triumph over the enemy and the victory celebration.
Christ is so extraordinarily vast and perfect—far, far more so than any of us have the remotest conception—that the Bride, in order to be the helpmate of the Lord Jesus, cannot consist of groups of imperfect flesh-and-blood people. The Bride is a spiritual creation, fashioned from the body and blood of Christ. The Bride is of His Being, of His nature, of His Substance, of His wisdom, of His Spirit, of His flesh, of His bones, of His Life. He is our Life.
The first three feasts, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits, bring the Wife of the Lamb to the school of the wilderness. She now is ready for the working of the Holy Spirit that will result in her transformation into the image of Christ.
Her transformation into the image of Christ is in preparation for the entrance into her of the Father and the Son through the Spirit in fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.
(“Pressing Past Pentecost: Sixteen”, 3145-1)