Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God's Plan of the Ages - The Harvest Allegory

Joseph Herrin (11-16-2011)
























Before Yahweh ever began to form the creation, He had fully worked out the plan of the ages from the beginning to the end. Everything that exists, or will exist; every event that has occurred, and is yet to transpire, was planned before the creation began.

Isaiah 14:24
Yahweh of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand...”

Yahweh will accomplish all His good pleasure. Knowing that Yahweh has perfect and complete power to perform all His desire, and perceiving Him to be perfect in knowledge and wisdom, we are able to agree with Scripture’s testimony that everything in the creation is accomplished according to a master plan that Yahweh established by His own counsel.

Ephesians 3:8-11
Unto me - the less than least of all saints, was given this favour, unto the nations, to announce the glad-message of the untraceable riches of the Christ, and to bring to light - what is the administration of the sacred secret which had been hidden away from the ages in God, who did all things create: In order that now, unto the principalities and the authorities in the heavenlies, might be made known, through means of the assembly, the manifold wisdom of God, - according to a plan of the ages which he made in the anointed Jesus our Lord.
[Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible]

Those things God will do have been known from ancient times. Yahweh has set testimonies in His creation, among the heavens, and on the earth, to proclaim His will. Thousands of years ago Yahweh established a witness in the scriptures that He entrusted to man. The Law and the prophets give testimony to Yahweh’s plan of the ages.

Our Father has not neglected to provide a testimony of the resurrections of mankind. Even as plants mature and crops are harvested on the Earth, the day will come when mankind will reach maturity. The time of man’s harvest will be at hand. The Bible frequently uses a harvest allegory to show forth the resurrections of mankind.  The crops we grow arise from the dust of the earth even as man’s flesh was formed of the dust of the earth.

Genesis 2:7
And Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

We have previously observed Christ’s parable where He compares men to both wheat and tares that are sown in a field and grow together. There are many more Scriptures that compare men to various types of plants that arise from the dust of the earth. Following is a small sampling of the great variety of Scriptures which employ this allegory.

John 12:24-25
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”

Psalms 1:1-4
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of Yahweh, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

Psalms 80:8-13
You removed a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground before it, and it took deep root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shadow, and the cedars of God with its boughs. It was sending out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River. Why have You broken down its hedges, so that all who pass that way pick its fruit? A boar from the forest eats it away and whatever moves in the field feeds on it.

Psalms 92:12-14
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of Yahweh, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green...

Isaiah 40:23-24
He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble.

I Corinthians 3:6-7
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

A great many more Scriptures could be cited, as the comparison of men to plants is one of the most abundant analogies that Yahweh uses in the Bible. There are truths that we can glean (pun intended) as we look at men in this light.

One thing that is observable in the natural realm is that plants bear fruit at different times of the year. Even so, Yahweh has determined that men should come to maturity at different times which He has established by His own counsel. Every man must eventually arrive at a state of conformity to Christ so that Yahshua might “fill all things.” However, this subjection of all men to Christ will occur “each in his own order.”

When Yahweh sought to give a testimony of the resurrections of man in the Law delivered to Moses, He chose to use annual gatherings as the symbol to represent this matter. Three times a year Yahweh required that all males appear before Him at a place He would choose. These appointed times (moedim in Hebrew) serve as types of the three resurrections. Each of them occurred at a time of harvest. The three feasts and the harvests associated with them are:

Passover/Barley
Pentecost/Wheat
Tabernacles/Grapes

Yahweh chose these three crops to reveal specific truths about those men who would attain to each of the three resurrections. Before I address what is revealed through these three types of plants, let us first establish the foundation upon which we can correctly conclude that the Feasts were intended as symbols of the resurrections of man.

When Yahweh delivered the Law to Moses, He did so to provide mankind with types and shadows that would give those with understanding insight into the hidden mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

Colossians 2:16-17
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - things which are a shadow of what is to come...

The word “festival” that Paul used here is a reference to the Feasts established by Yahweh. The apostle says that these “are a shadow of what is to come.” The Law with its festival ordinances was given to Moses 1,500 years before Christ was born. It would be about 2,000 more years before a group of firstfruits sons would pass through death into life at the first resurrection. The hour is now close at hand. Those things that have been foreshadowed from ancient times are soon to take place.

In the details of the Feasts of Yahweh we can discern much about the character and timing of the three resurrections of man.

Deuteronomy 16:16
Three times in a year all your males shall appear before Yahweh your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) and at the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) and at the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles)...

Appearing before God is symbolic of resurrection. Men were required by Yahweh to leave their dwelling places and journey to a place where they were to meet with Him. At each feast the men were to bring with them the firstfruits of that which was being harvested in that particular season.

Exodus 23:15
And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.

Each resurrection will be distinct in its character even as the three feasts, and the crops associated with them, were different. God looks for fruit in the lives of men. Christ told His disciples, “You shall know them by their fruit.” Yahweh knows every man by his fruit. He knows those who are the barley crop. He knows those who are wheat. He also knows those who are grapes.

Passover, and by extension the first resurrection, is associated with the barley harvest. Barley is an early ripening crop. It matures in the spring of the year, being spared the heat and drought of the summer months. This is a parable. Those who attain to the first resurrection come to maturity quicker than the rest of the body of Christ. Because they gave themselves eagerly to pursue God’s will for them of becoming like Christ, they will not have to experience the heat of the Lake of Fire, even as barley doesn’t have to go through the heat of summer.

The Barley of Passover differs from the wheat of Pentecost in a very significant way. Barley contains very little gluten, while wheat has an abundance of gluten. Gluten is the component of grain that reacts with yeast to make the bread rise. Because barley lacks gluten it is often baked as an unleavened bread. This is a parable, for bread represents man’s flesh and leaven represents sin.

The Last Supper was held during the Feast of Passover. During that meal, Christ took an unleavened loaf of barley bread and said to His disciples, “This is My BODY, broken for you.” The bread had to be unleavened, for Christ was completely righteous, having never sinned.

Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

The disciples partook of this meal during the days of unleavened bread prescribed by Moses.

Exodus 12:15
“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.”

These days are called The Feast of Unleavened Bread, and they are part of the larger Passover celebration. The Feast of Unleavened bread occurs at the time of the barley harvest. The barley loaves represent not only Christ, but those overcomers in Christ who buffet their bodies and keep them under subjection. These ones do not permit their flesh to rise up in the presence of sin. They keep their bodies under the rule of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:24
Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Wheat is harvested at Pentecost, and therefore corresponds to the second resurrection. Wheat contains an abundance of gluten. At Pentecost Yahweh gave instructions that the wheat presented to Him be baked as a leavened bread. Pentecost occurs fifty days after Passover.

Leviticus 23:16-17
“You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to Yahweh. You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to Yahweh.”

It was not a random whim of God to instruct Israel to remove all leaven from their homes during Passover and to bake the barley as unleavened bread, anymore than it is a meaningless requirement that the bread at Pentecost must be baked WITH leaven. Yahweh is showing forth truth through means of parables.

Those who do not rule over the flesh with its passions and desires, will be excluded from the honor of attaining to the first resurrection. Because many Christians sow to the flesh, rather than to the Spirit, they must wait until a later resurrection to enter into their inheritance in Christ. God will not be mocked. Whether a person is a Christian, or an unbeliever, they will reap what they sow.

Those Christians who walk in a manner unworthy of Christ will not only be excluded from being numbered among the firstborn of Yahshua, they will have to experience “apollumi” in the lake of fire, because they did not present themselves to God as “a living sacrifice” in this present age.

Revelation 2:11
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.”

Revelation 20:14
This is the second death, the lake of fire.

There is a parallel observed between the baking of the leavened loaves of wheat at Pentecost and the Christians who share a place with the unbelievers in the lake of fire. The action of the yeast in wheat bread continues to cause the bread to rise until the bread is placed in the oven and baked. The heat of the oven stops the reaction between the leaven and the gluten in the bread. Similarly, many Christians will only turn away from sin and learn righteousness as they go through the heat of the lake of fire.

The last feast of the year is Tabernacles, often called Sukkot, or the Feast of Booths. It is held in conjunction with the harvest of grapes. Grapes represent those men and women who have given themselves fully over to sensuality and have become the enemies of God. Even as the fruit of the grape can induce drunkenness, attended by an absence of self-control, so too are there many men and women who set aside all inhibitions and give themselves fully to a pursuit of selfish pleasure and ungodliness.

Romans 1:32
Though they are fully aware of God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them themselves but approve and applaud others who practice them.
[Amplified Bible]

These are the last to come to maturity. They are the last group from among mankind to be resurrected. They must experience the wrath of God in full measure.

Having this introduction to the symbolism of the three feasts established by Yahweh, let us look once more at Paul’s words to the saints in Corinth relating to Christ’s work of subjecting all things to the Father.

I Corinthians 15:22-26
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: the anointed first fruits (Barley/Passover), after that those who are Christ's at His coming (Wheat/Pentecost), then the remainder (Grapes/Tabernacles), when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

The more one learns about the Feasts, the better able they may discern the relationship between the feasts and the resurrections as described by Paul in these words. At Passover the firstfruits offered to Yahweh were to be anointed with oil.

Numbers 28:17-20
On the fifteenth day of this month shall be a feast, unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days... You shall present an offering by fire, a burnt offering to Yahweh: two bulls and one ram and seven male lambs one year old, having them without defect. For their grain offering, you shall offer fine flour mixed with oil...

The fine barley flour of Passover was to be mixed with oil. This was “the anointed firstfruits.” Paul says that these are the first to be resurrected. When Paul writes of those who are last to be resurrected, he concludes with the statement, “ For [Christ] must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.” Grapes are harvested and then crushed under the feet of men. From ancient days, this was the method of extracting the juice from the grape.

Paul attaches to his words on the order of the resurrection the words “He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.” These words express the thought that the resurrection work of God among mankind will not be complete until the enemies of God are crushed and then reconciled to the Father. These will be last in resurrection. Like grapes which are trodden under the feet of man, the enemies of God will be trodden under God’s feet, experiencing His wrath.

Isaiah 63:2-6
Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? "I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger, and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. And I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; so My own arm brought salvation to Me; and My wrath upheld Me. And I trod down the peoples in My anger, and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."

God’s work among mankind will not be finished until all mankind has appeared before God. Each group of men must be harvested from the earth, “for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order.” The enemies of God, like grapes, will be harvested last of all. They must endure the wrath of God. Before the ages are concluded, all who were incensed with Yahweh will be ashamed. They will confess “Surely in Yahweh I have righteousness and strength.”

Yahweh was very deliberate in choosing these three crops to represent the various groups of men to be resurrected. Not only are the three resurrections of man observed in the Old Testament in the feasts established by Yahweh, they are proclaimed all the way to the last book of the Bible. In Revelation chapter fourteen, all three resurrections are in view.

Revelation 14:1-5
Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads... These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.

In these words we see the overcomers in Christ. These are firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. They are the first to pass through death into the resurrection life of Christ. Later in this same chapter we see the next group to be resurrected.

Revelation 14:14-16
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe." Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

The harvest allegory is clearly being employed in this chapter. We have seen the firstfruits, now a second resurrection is occurring. The earth is being reaped. Those who have come to maturity must be gathered together to be presented before the Father. Immediately after this we see a third and final reaping of the earth.

Revelation 14:17-20
And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe." So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.

In this chapter we see a distinct parallel to Paul’s words in I Corinthians chapter fifteen, and to the three feasts of Yahweh with their associated harvests. This chapter of Revelations begins with the firstfruits of Passover standing on Mount Zion with Christ. It ends with the grapes of Tabernacles being harvested and trodden under foot. In between is the wheat harvest of Pentecost. John further elaborates on the enemies of God in this chapter.

Revelation 14:9-11
Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up to the ages of ages; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

Christ must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. How fitting it is that the Holy Spirit pictures these enemies as grapes. What marvelous design is seen in Yahweh’s creation where the grape harvest is in the end of the year, long after the barley and the wheat have been gathered in. There is an appointed time for all things.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws    

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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P. O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

2 comments:

Todd Ott said...

So when do you believe these resurrections occur? Is there a pretrib rapture, a posttrib rapture and a post millennial?

Joseph Herrin said...

Hello Todd,

You can read more on the subject of the three resurrections in the book "Christ in You - The Hope of Glory." The chapter titled "Each in His Own Order" specifically addresses this subject.

The Bible tells us the first resurrection occurs just prior to the Millennial reign of Christ. The next resurrection will not occur until the thousand years is over.

There is no pre-trib rapture. There are many verses that indicate that the church, including the elect of God, will be present during those days.

Matthew 24:20-23
"But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short."

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,

Joseph