PRESSING PAST PENTECOST: TWO
PRESSING PAST PENTECOST: TWOCopyright Š 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
("Pressing Past Pentecost: Two" is taken from The Feasts of the Lord, copyright Š 2011 Trumpet Ministries, found in the Kindle Library)
Because of the heavy emphasis on these types and shadows it is helpful to keep in mind that the people and events of the Scriptures were physical people living and behaving in the material world. There was a nation of Israel that came from Egypt and wandered in an inhospitable desert for forty long years. There was an actual Tabernacle of the Congregation.
The feasts of the Lord actually were practiced by the Jews and with some modifications are observed to the present day. Although the people, things, and events reveal spiritual truths to us, and in some cases portray happenings yet in the future, we must keep firmly in mind that they are facts of history, having taken place among flesh and blood human beings.
Our study takes us back in time beyond 1400 B.C. to the land of Egypt where a prophet named Moses, and Aaron his brother, were proclaiming the Word of the God to Pharaoh. Egypt was in the process of being destroyed by dreadful plagues. The worst was yet to come.
Let us begin reading in the twelfth chapter of Exodus:
And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, (Exodus 12:1)
The first Passover marked the only occasion on which any of the seven feasts was celebrated in Egypt (a type of the world). The lambs were killed. The blood was sprinkled on the doorposts of the houses. The meal was eaten with unleavened bread. All this took place in Egypt.
The first observance of each of the remaining six feasts took place after Israel left Egypt; except that unleavened bread was eaten during the first Passover meal, and the Hebrews were still in Egypt for the first few hoursuntil midnightof the first observance of the second feast, the feast of Unleavened Bread. It is believed that the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai occurred on the fiftieth day (the first Pentecost) after the first Passover.
It should be noted from the beginning of our study that several of the feasts of the Lord were agricultural festivals. Although the feasts were given to Israel in detail during the wilderness wandering they could not be celebrated until Israel entered the land of promise.
The Jews could not plant crops in the wilderness, and Firstfruits, Pentecost, and Tabernacles celebrated the ingathering of barley, wheat, grapes, and the remainder of the yield of the land. The fact that the feasts were instituted in the wilderness and their observance enjoined on the Hebrews, and yet could not be practiced until the people had taken possession of the land of promise, has prophetic significance for the Church of Christ. It is informing us that what we are experiencing now is in preparation for our future life.
This month [Abib] shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Exodus 12:2)
Prior to this time the month Abib was the seventh month of the year. Now, however, Abib was being established as the "beginning of months," marking the beginning of the sacred year. Abib overlaps our March-April.
The seventh month (Tishri ) of the sacred year, the year that began with the month Abib, remained as the first month of the civil year. Tishri overlaps our September-October.
This may seem a bit confusing but actually it is quite simple.
The Jews have two overlapping years as is true also of the United States. We have a calendar year that begins with the month of January. We have a fiscal (business) year that begins with the first day of July (the seventh month of the calendar year).
The Jews have a sacred year that begins with the month Abibthe month in which the Passover is celebrated (the fourteenth of Abib ), and a civil year, the official calendar of kings and of contracts, that begins with the first day of Tishri.
The two overlapping years of Israel, as is true of some of the other customs of the Jews, are of prophetic significance for the Church of Christ. The first day of Tishri is the Blowing of Trumpets. It is New Year's Day, Rosh Hashanah of the Jews, and typifies the beginning of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The Christian Church began its sacred year with the crucifixion of Christ, the fulfillment of the Passover. Now we have come to the beginning of the civil year, the year of kings and of contracts. We are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the memorial of the blowing of Trumpets. We are approaching the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The seven feasts of the Lord typify the Divine plan of redemption in Christ. The plan of redemption commences with the blood of the Passover Lamb. John the Baptist cried: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
The primary significance of the Passover is not the movement of people from the bondage of Egypt but that which the Passover lamb portrays. The Passover lamb reveals Christ, and Christ is the important aspect of Passover.
No human being can approach the Lord God of Heaven until he or she has received by faith the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as the atonement for his or her sins.
Therefore the Lord announced to His servant, Moses, that the month Abib, which in pre-exodus times had been the seventh month of the year, would from this time forth be the head of the year. God was about to perform one of the most extraordinary acts in the history of the peoples of the earth, an event that portrays the atoning (reconciling) death of the Lamb of God. He was slain for our sins but one day will reign in glory with His Wife whom He has redeemed with His blood.
Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: (Exodus 12:3-5)
Notice how careful the Lord is that enough lamb be provided so everyone may eat. It is God's will that all be saved and come to repentance. There is enough of Christ so everyone in the world may partake.
"A lamb for a house." When one person of a household receives Christ the blessing of the Lord abides on that home. It often happens that the other members of the family come to know the Lord through the faithful life and prayers of the one who has chosen to serve the Lord.
The lamb was selected on the tenth day of the month Abib and was observed until the fourteenth day to make sure there was no blemish in the animal, no defective limb or other imperfection. Our Lord Jesus Christ was examined carefully by the leaders of Israel and by Pontius Pilate, the governor of Jerusalem. They could find no fault in Him.
Christ is God's Lamb.
And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. (Exodus 12:6,7)
The expression "in the evening" (between the evenings) appears to indicate the period of time between sunset and darkat dusk. The blood shielded the entrance of the houses in which the Israelites ate the Passover lamb. This was the first Passover.
The last Passover was attended by the Lord Jesus. He Himself, the revelation of God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was pointing the disciples toward the breaking of His body and the shedding of His blood. From this point forward the blessing of the Lord rested on the Christian communion service rather than on the Jewish Passover (although God has never forsaken His people, Israel!).
What more need is there of a Passover lamb? God's Lamb has come and has given us to eat of His broken body and to drink of His shed blood.
And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. (Exodus 12:8-10)
The Passover lamb was not to be undercooked or cooked by boiling in water. The lamb was to be roasted with fire. What was not eaten was to be burned in the fire.
This is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, who endured the judgment of God (the fire) until His entire Personality was part of God's holy Fire. There was no part of Jesus that did not endure the trial by God's fire. He had to suffer the full penalty of the Law in order to be an entirely suitable redeemer for every person. Christ was made perfect through suffering so He would be able to lead many sons to glory.
The burning of that which was not eaten reveals to us that the entire Passover lamb was holy to the Lord and not to be treated as garbage.
The Passover lamb was eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, signifying that we must put away the evil (leaven) of the world when we come to Christ. All malice and insincerity must be removed from us if we are to partake properly of God's Lamb.
The bitter herbs remind us of the suffering of the Son of God, of the suffering of Israel, and also of the fact that a saint may be called on at any time to suffer tribulation and persecution for Christ's name. There have been many instances in history when the people of the LordJews and Christians alikehave had to suffer for their faith in the one true God.
Numerous Christian believers are suffering tribulation in our own day. We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God.
And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord's passover. (Exodus 12:11)
Perhaps most of us have experienced the sense of haste, of pilgrimage, of leaving the world in search of the city of God, when we first receive Christ as our Savior. What happens after a while? Do we lose sight of the fact that we are pilgrims and strangers looking for the city that has foundations? Do we keep our love for Christ burning fiercely with the expectation of His glorious appearing?
The Israelites, several million strong, were preparing to evacuate the land where they had lived since the day when Jacob and his eleven sons had come to Egypt, seeking relief from the famine that was ravaging Canaan. In those days Joseph had stored a supply of food in the warehouses of Egypt.
Some four hundred years later the descendants of Jacob were being visited by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They bowed their heads and worshiped.
The Hebrew slaves had seen the Lord smite Egypt in accordance with the word of His servant, Moses. Still, the Jews had no idea of the terror that was to reach into every home in Egypt excepting the houses having blood sprinkled on the doorposts.
It is true today that God requires of people that they apply the blood of His Lamb to their lives as a protection against the Divine judgment. Had we any idea of the extent of the calamity that will fall on the earth we Christians would have a deeper appreciation for the blood of Christ that is our protection against the judgments of God.
The Lord was getting His people ready to move. God desires of us today that we maintain the same sense of urgency and expectancy, always looking toward the Day of the Lord, always hastening the coming of Christ by our godly living and prayers to Him.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. (Exodus 12:12)
The Passover was a time of redemption for the Israelites but a nightmare of horror for the Egyptians. The firstborn of people and of animals died. Yet the judgment was against the gods of Egypt. The people suffered because of the sentence executed against the gods.
So it is today. The coming Day of the Lord will be a period of horror for the peoples of the earth, especially for those who are living in sin and rebellion. The judgment is against the demon gods of the world. This same Day will be a season of redemption for every man, woman, boy, and girl who is protected by the blood of God's Lamb.
The battle always is between the Lord God and the rulers of spiritual darkness. The peoples of the earth either are redeemed or destroyed depending on how they receive the grace of God. The destruction comes from God. He is the Lord. He executes the sentence of judgment against the gods of the present evil age.
Let us take care we are on the Lord's side against His enemies (Exodus 12:12, 13, 23, 27, 29; Psalms 136:10).
The Lord God singled out the firstborn of Egypt for death because Pharaoh was holding the Lord's firstborn in captivity (Exodus 4:22,23).
And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:13)
The blood of the lamb was for a sign on the houses. No mention is made of the sins of the Israelites. The Lord God was about to pass through Egypt executing judgment against Ptah, the fire God, Neith, the cow, Re, the sun God (you may remember that Joseph's father-in-law was Potipherah, the priest of On, where Re was worshiped), and the rest of the many gods and goddesses of nature that the Egyptians worshiped.
It is not stated, in the account of this first most important Passover, that the blood of the lamb covered the sins of the Israelites. The blood was a sign on the houses so when the Lord judged Ptah, Neith, Re, Kneph, Amon, and the other gods the plague would not be on the people of Israel.
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. (Exodus 12:14)
The only true Passover was the first one, for on that night God brought His elect from the land of Egypt, from the chains of slavery. Every subsequent Passover observance has been conducted in remembrance of the first Passover. So it is true that Christ was crucified once for all time. When we celebrate the Communion service it is in "remembrance" of God's Lamb. We are announcing the Lord's death until He comes (I Corinthians 11:24-26).
The redemption of God's chosen servants meant liberty for them but destruction for the people of Egypt. So will it be when Christ returns to liberate His elect from the chains of slavery of the present age. The saints will be released to glory, but the sinners and rebellious of the earth will be destroyed as God pours out His wrath on the gods of the world.
And it came to pass, that at midnight [the fifteenth of Abib] the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. (Exodus 12:29,30)
It never has been true before or since that God has gone into the midst of a nation and brought a group of people from its midst, destroying that nation in the process. No matter how much thought we give the first Passover the importance of what happened here scarcely can be grasped.
The exodus of Israel from Egypt is on the same level of significance as Noah's flood, and the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. The crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus are even greater in importance. The next event of such universal significance will be the return of the Lord with His saints and elect angels to execute judgment on the ungodly.
It is the Lord's will that all His elect, Jews and Christians alike, frequently bring to mind the story of the first Passover. There is no clearer picture of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. (Exodus 12:26,27)
A person today partakes of the Lord's Passover by receiving Christ as his Lord and Savior, believing in His atoning crucifixion and bodily resurrection, being baptized in water, and emerging from death as part of Christ's resurrection. Repentance, faith in Christ, baptism by water into His death and resurrection, and the new birth bring the believer into the new covenant. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved in the Day of Wrath.
True faith, including conversion to Christ, is a circumcision of the heart, a cutting away of the malice and lust of the present age. In order to partake of the Christian "Passover," of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus, a person must repent, being circumcised in his heart.
And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. (Exodus 12:48)
The first day of the week of Unleavened Bread is, as we have stated, the fifteenth of Abib, commencing at sundown of the fourteenth. The week of Unleavened Bread is of seven days duration, beginning on the fifteenth day of the month and extending through the twenty-first. The first day of Unleavened Bread, the fifteenth of Abib, is a high (important) Sabbath.
Let us continue with Exodus, Chapter 12:
Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. (Exodus 12:15)
The term leaven, as used here, is a type of wickednessthe wickedness of the spirit of the world.
Leaven is a fermenting dough that raises bread. Without the addition of leaven the baked bread is flat in shape. For one week, under penalty of being cut off from his people, no Hebrew was to eat leavened bread.
If we stop to think about it, this was a remarkable prohibition. Bread is a food and leaven makes the bread palatable. The sternness of the prohibition had to do with what leaven typifies: the malice and wickedness of the world (I Corinthians 5:8).
God is saying to us, through the feast of Unleavened Bread, that every human being who comes to Him for salvation must put away his former way of life and not cling to one particle of the spirit of the present age.
It does not require much leaven in order to leaven a whole ball of dough. A little sin in a person's life keeps working until the whole personality has been poisoned. "Put sin away," God commands. "Do not let it be seen in your house. Keep away from sin. Remove it from your presence forever."
And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day [fifteenth of Abiba high Sabbath] have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. (Exodus 12:17)
It can be seen that the separation of leaven from the camp of Israel is symbolic of the separation of Egypt from Israel. It is the dividing of the light from the darkness.
Notice, "I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt." The term armies reminds us that the peoples of the earth must be redeemed by blood, and then by war. The blood of God's Son, Christ, pays the full price for our redemption. But Satan will not let his slaves go. Therefore, Christ shall come and take them from him by force, by war.
The redemption by force takes place as the devil is cast out. In the future the army of the Lord will descend upon the earth in tremendous power, at the return of Christ to the earth, to cast out all the workers and works of darkness.
The feast of Unleavened Bread is identified with water baptism. It is in water baptism that we first put away our sins. We leave our old sinful nature in the water and then arise in newness of life in the resurrection of Christ.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6)
The Lord was emphatic concerning the removal of leaven during the observance of Passover and the week of Unleavened Bread:
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even [that is, at the conclusion of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth, as we understand it], ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. (Exodus 12:18-20)
Blood was shed at each of the seven feasts. Notice, in the following passage, that animals were sacrificed during the observance of Unleavened Bread:
And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. In the first day shall be an holy convocation [this is the high Sabbath, the first day, the fifteenth of Abib]; ye shall do no manner of servile work therein: But ye shall offer a sacrifice made by fire for a burnt offering unto the Lord; two young bullocks, and one ram, and seven lambs of the first year: they shall be unto you without blemish: (Numbers 28:17-19)
The first and last days of the feast of Unleavened Bread (fifteenth and twenty-first of Abib) were especially important:
In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. (Leviticus 23:7,8)
The expression, "ye shall do no manner of servile work therein" appears several times in the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus in connection with the feasts of the Lord. This injunction teaches us there are times when we are to look up from what we are doing and give the Lord our complete attention.
There is more to life than the constant struggle for food, clothing, shelter, and pleasure, or even the endless drudgery of faithful ministry. Man does not live by bread alone or by human effort alone. God wants us to devote some of our time to the undistracted adoration and seeking of Him.
One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. (Psalms 27:4)
Zealous Christian workers often fall into the trap of neglecting to keep in step with the Spirit of God. After a period of time of the Lord's working at one level, the cloud and the fire move forward. When that happens it is time for the workers to look to the Lord carefully to hear what He says, keeping in readiness to move forward with Him to the next phase of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
On many occasions the diligent Christian workers refuse to move forward with God. They have become rooted in one aspect of spiritual development or ministry and they will not consider any change. "It is of the devil," they cry, as they see the new thing God is doing. They continue with their "servile work" and close themselves off from the Spirit.
The resisting of spiritual change has happened many times in Church history. The most recent has been the reaction against "tongues." At the beginning of the twentieth century the Lord began to emphasize the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost with the accompanying (and eminently scriptural) speaking in tongues. Numerous pastors and teachers, apparently being threatened by change, announced without any basis that "tongues is of the devil." Were it not for the goodness and mercy of the Lord they would be held guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit of God.
When the Lord God brings into view a feast He desires that we cease what we are doing long enough to listen carefully to what He is saying. If we do not it often becomes necessary to the Lord to bring us into a hard place in order to get our attention.
Today the Lord is moving past Pentecost to the feast of Tabernacles and is emphasizing the nature of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is being stressed. We can expect to witness the same disruption as Pentecostal leaders cling to Pentecost, working their familiar works and refusing to move forward with the Spirit of God.
One would think the leaders of the churches would recognize that every move of God has been accompanied by vicious persecution of their fellow Christians who are listening to God and moving forward with Him. But the lesson never seems to be learned. The pattern is repeated with every generation.
Spiritual change requires humility and openness, whereas positions of church leadership and preeminence foster spiritual pride in those who hold the positions. Spiritual pride is a problem in the Christian ministry.
As we have stated, the first day of Unleavened Bread (fifteenth Abib ) is a high feast day, an important Sabbath. It is felt that the expression in Leviticus 23:11, "on the morrow after the Sabbath," refers to the day after the high Sabbaththe day after the first day of the week of Unleavened Bread (fifteenth through the twenty-first of Abib ).
We have three important days in a row:
Passoverthe slaying of the lamb, occurring on the late afternoon (evening) of the fourteenth.
The high Sabbath of Unleavened Bread on the fifteenththe lamb being eaten during the beginning of this day, at night just after the conclusion of the fourteenth.
Then the feast of Firstfruits on the sixteenth of Abib.
The feast of Firstfruits was celebrated by the bringing of a sheaf of barley to the priest to mark the beginning of the harvest of grainbarley being the first grain to ripen.
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord. And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the Lord for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. (Leviticus 23:10-14)
Notice the expression, "when ye be come into the land that I give to you."
Several of the seven feasts of the Lord had to do with the land of promise. Yet, the feasts were enjoined solemnly on the Israelites while they still were making their way through the wilderness.
Today the Church of Christ is making its way through the wilderness of the world. Many aspects of the spiritual life in Christ have been brought to our attention and enjoined on us. Each of us has been charged to lay hold on the Divine grace that is in Christ our Lord, and by the virtue, power, and wisdom that are in that grace to glorify God by our deeds, our speech, and our motives and imaginations.
Yet the fullest glory of our redemption is not here yet but will be brought to us in the ages to come (Romans 8:23; Ephesians 2:7).
Our treasures are in Heaven. Our true life is in Heaven. We are being trained carefully now so when Jesus returns to the earth, bringing our life and our treasures with Him, we shall be able to conduct ourselves properly in our land of promise.
As soon as the harvest commenced, the first sheaf of barley to be reaped was brought immediately to the priest. The priest waved the sheaf of barley before the Lord, giving thanks to God for His goodness and acknowledging the Lord's ownership of the earth and the fullness thereof.
None of the harvest was to be eaten until the sheaf of Firstfruits was presented to the Lord. God intends to be first in our lives in everything we do.
As we noted previously, animal blood was shed during each of the seven feasts. In the case of Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits, a ram, two young bulls, and seven first-year lambs were offered as burnt (ascending) offerings for a sweet savor to the Lord.
The whole burnt offering typifies the consecration of the Lord Jesus Christ. The burnt offering also reminds us that we too must present our bodies a living sacrifice. Consecration must be true of us from the moment we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior on through to mature sainthood.
We never are to grow careless in our daily walk of cross-carrying, self-denying obedience to our Lord, Christ.
The meal and drink offerings that accompanied the offering of the animals speak of the fact that the works of our hands are to be offered to the Lord. It is not enough that we consecrate our person to the Lord. In addition, all that we do in our daily life must be presented to God.
It cannot be true of a Christian that his life is divided into what is sacred and what is secular. There is to be nothing in the saint that is outside Christ. Everything that the disciple does, says, and thinks is to be performed to the Lord, offered to the Lord. The believer himself and all his talents and abilities are to be held perpetually in trust for the Master's use. No lesser dedication is acceptable under the new covenant.
The person and behavior of the believer is to be the visible expression in the earth of the Person and resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christthe shining of His Presence and Glory.
The concept of the firstfruits is an important one in the working of God. The term "firstfruits" appears several times in the New Testament. The idea of the firstfruits is that of the first part of a larger amount that is yet to come. The sanctifying (setting apart to God as holy) of the firstfruits sanctifies the remaining greater part of the harvest from which the firstfruits was taken.
Christ Himself is the greatest of all firstfruits. Because God has accepted the Firstfruits, Christ, the Body of Christ has been accepted and abides under the blessing of God.
It is true also that when we accept Christ, part of Him is born in us and ascends immediately to the Throne of God. A firstfruits of our personality has been reaped and sanctified, and so the remainder of our being has been accepted of God and abides under the blessing of God.
The Holy Spirit then works in us until our entire personality, spirit, soul, and body, becomes permeated with Christ in preparation for the Day of Redemption that is to come with the appearing of Christ from Heaven.
Pentecost was termed the "feast of weeks" because it took place seven weeks (a week of weeks) from the feast of Firstfruits.
It is believed that the first fiftieth-day observance (fifty-two days from the first Passover) was the day on which the Lord gave the Ten Commandments.
To this day the feast of Pentecost is associated in Jewish thinking with the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.
The convocation of Pentecost signaled the conclusion of the wheat harvest. Two large loaves baked with leaven were waved before the Lord by the High Priest of Israel.
And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: (Leviticus 23:15)
The "sabbath" was the first day of the week of Unleavened Bread. The "morrow after the sabbath" was the feast of Firstfruits. The "sheaf of the wave offering" was the first sheaf of the barley harvest.
"Seven sabbaths" is forty-nine days, the fiftieth day being Pentecost. The disciples of Jesus had to wait until the day of the feast of Pentecost (fifty days from the resurrection of Jesus), and then "the promise of the Father" was poured on them.
Seven Sabbaths is a Sabbath of Sabbaths, indicating that Pentecost indeed was a high holy day. Pentecost was the only one of the seven feasts standing by itself, the first three being observed together and the last three being observed together.
The extraordinary importance of Pentecost is due to the fact that this feast represents the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. The Person and work of the Holy Spirit are to be dominant in all areas of the Christian Church until the Church is presented to the Lamb as His wife.
The Holy Spirit is of far greater importance in the life and ministry of the Christian Church than ordinarily is believed to be truebelieved in the sense that the Christians actually look to the Holy Spirit for the wisdom and power to bear witness of Christ's perfect atonement and triumphant resurrection and for the wisdom and power to lead a holy life.
We are convinced that it is time now for Christians to realize the tremendous importance of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ. While we never are to pray to the Holy Spirit, He is the One who gives gifts and ministries according to His own will and who directs their use. The Holy Spirit is God in our midst.
Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord. (Leviticus 23:16,17)
The two large loaves were waved before the Lord by the anointed priest. It seems strange that they were baked with leaven after the stern injunction concerning the removal of leaven during the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
Some Bible teachers hold that the leaven in the two wave loaves of Pentecost portrays the fact that at the time of their baptism with the Holy Spirit the believers still have a sinful nature. We do not receive the Spirit because we are perfect but in order to make us perfect.
This certainly is a defensible point of view. The oil of the Holy Spirit comes on the blood, not on any holiness that has been achieved by the believer (Leviticus 14:17). All of usSpirit-filled or notstill are pursuing complete redemption, the rest of God, in which the world, Satan, and our own fleshly nature do not influence our behavior.
The leaven put away during the week of Unleavened Bread typifies sin. All "sin" was to be removed from the camp of the Israelites, symbolizing the removal of the sin of Egypt (the world) from Israel.
The fact that the Holy Spirit came as "cloven tongues like as of fire" during the first Pentecost reinforces the interpretation of the Pentecostal leaven as the body of sin dwelling in the believers. The Spirit came as a Dove on the Lord Jesus because there is no warfare in His personality. In our case, however, even though the Holy Spirit has come upon our flesh, our warfare against sin and self-love has not as yet been accomplished. Therefore the Holy Spirit comes on us in the form of fire.
It is not until we pass through the final three feasts that we are fully in the rest of God and the Spirit can rest as a Dove upon us.
Another interpretation of the leaven in the Pentecostal loaves is that it represents the new leaven of the Kingdom. The two loaves symbolize the anointing of the power of the Holy Spirit on the Church of Christ. The leaven signifies the Substance of Christ Himself that would be born in the disciples as the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Matthew 13:33)
The disciples did not attain perfection at once, but Christ had been born in them. Slowly, just as a little leaven works through the whole ball of dough, the Substance of Christ would influence their deeds, words, imaginations, and motives.
Both interpretations of the leaven are true. There still was sin in the one hundred twenty on whom the Spirit fell in the beginning. The Bride was not as yet without blemish. The coming of the Spirit gave birth in them to the new leaven of the Kingdom, which is the living WordChrist.
The two loaves were a "firstfruits to the Lord." So it is that our baptism with the Holy Spirit does not signify that we have arrived at the fullness of God. At Pentecost the leaven of sin is still present but the new leaven of the Kingdom, the firstfruits of Christ, has been conceived in us. If we remain faithful to God, the Holy Spirit will remove all the leaven of sin and the new leaven of Christ will grow to maturity in us.
Pentecost, being the fourth of seven feasts, is a midpoint, so to speak. After we are baptized with God's Spirit we either go backward and allow the leaven of sin to expand in us or we go forward and allow the leaven of Christ to expand in us. It is important that the believer in Christ understand both kinds of leaven are in him. If he devotes his life to the leaven of sin he will reap corruption. If he devotes his life to the leaven of Christ he will reap eternal life.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the first of the firstfruits of the Kingdom of God, being the firstborn from the dead. Next will come the victorious saints, the hundredfold, the attainers to the first resurrection from the dead.
After the victorious saints will appear the remainder of the elect, as we understand the Scriptures.
The Christian Church is a firstfruits of the earth to the Lord God, paving the way for the reign of the Kingdom of God over all the saved nations of the earth. The Church of Christ is a firstfruits of the harvest of mankind. Christ yet will receive the nations for His inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession.
The two wave loaves of Pentecost were of fine flour and were baked. The fine flour portrays the unblemished nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that the loaves were baked speaks of the fires of Divine judgment that fell on Christ and fall on every true saint as he presses forward in the Lord.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:11)
Many of the events of our life, although we may not appreciate them at the time, are for the purpose of purifying the "flour" of our nature, separating the wheat from the chaff. Then the fires of tribulation "bake" us until we are tasty breadfit for the consumption of God and man.
And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord. Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. (Leviticus 23:18-21)
Again, we have the shedding of blood. God can be appeased concerning the sins of people only by the offering of innocent blood. Included were the burnt (ascending) offering, the sin offering, and two one year old lambs for peace offerings.
Notice also the drink offerings. Wine was poured out in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, evidently on the floor (bare ground) next to the Table of Showbread, whenever there was a nationwide observance such as the feast of Pentecost. The wine represents the blood of Christ that was shed for the sins of the world.
Some aspects of the Divine redemption are ever with us, from the time of our new birth until we stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Two of these constant companions are the blood of Christ and our own consecration to the will of God. If you add to these two the anointing of the Holy Spirit you have the three factors by which we overcome the accuser:
The blood of the Lamb.
The word of our testimony, which is the work of the Holy Spirit in us and through us.
The loving not of our lives to the point of death (see Revelation 12:11).
The sixteenth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy speaks of the joy that always accompanies the celebration of Pentecost:
Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn [from the feast of Firstfruits]. And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks [Pentecost] unto the Lord thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the Lord thy God, according as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee: And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to place his name there. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes. (Deuteronomy 16:9-12)
Every Israelite male was to come before God on the feast of Pentecost with an offering taken from that with which the Lord had prospered him. From these offerings the priest was able to perform the ceremonies according to the statutes.
Every man was to give a "freewill offering." What we give to the Lord must be offered freely and with joy. God loves a cheerful giverhim who rejoices and practices righteousness. What is extorted or forced is not acceptable. We should give our all to the Lord Jesus with the greatest abandonment and joy, breaking the bottle of the perfume of our life on His feet and counting it not wasted.
Notice the spirit of generosity, goodwill, and thankful rejoicing that went along with the celebration of the end of the wheat harvest. Have you experienced Pentecost yet? If you have you will agree that it was one of the most satisfying experiences of your life.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us brings joy indescribable and full of glory. Yet, through all the glory we are to keep in mind that we had been slaves to the Pharaoh of this age until the Divine Redeemer, Christ, came and set us free.