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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Harvest Festival and Saving Souls

Here in the Northern Hemisphere it is the season of Harvest Festivals and I have been reminded that Passover/Easter, Pentecost (Jewish and Christian) and Tabernacles (Final Harvest festival, yet to be fulfilled in Christianity) are all related to various stages of Harvest. Mindful also of Wesley's instruction to preachers: "Everywhere avail yourself of the great festivals, by preaching on the occasion" it seems that the Harvest season lends itself to the saving of souls.  


 "All the men of your nation are to come to worship the LORD three times a year at
 the one place of worship: at Passover, Harvest Festival, and the Festival 
of Shelters."  Deuteronomy 16:16

Three Festivals
In this reading God gives to the people three festivals, three celebrations, three feasts
 that they are to celebrate every year in Jerusalem at the Temple. Now each of these 
festivals was an agricultural festival celebrating some stage in the harvest process, but, 
and far more importantly,each festival also had a religious significance.

Passover April 10-11, 2017
 Passover(which for us now is the Easter celebration of the Lamb of God who was 
slain and raised to life in order to set us free from bondage to sin) was a reminder and 
celebration of the redemption from bondage in Egypt, but it also had an agricultural element.
Passover ends with the Festival of First Fruits, where the people bought the first
 part of their harvest as an offering to God in anticipation of a good harvest to come.
  Jesus was raised from the dead on the day of this festival which is why Paul says
(1Corinthians15:20) "Christ has been raised from the dead,
 the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep so that in Christ all will be made alive."

Pentecost: May 30-31, 2017
The next festival mentioned is the Harvest Festival, also called the Festival of Weeks,
as it took place seven weeks after Passover and First Fruits. At the time of Jesus this festival
 was known as Pentecost which is a Greek word which means "seven weeks".The Jews
 celebrated the harvest and that God had given them everything they
 had hoped for when they brought theirfirst fruits.They also remembered on this day 
the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.  Pentecost became of course the time when God 
poured out His Spirit and put His Law into our hearts.

Tabernacles: October 4-11, 2017
The final festival mentioned is the Festival of Tabernacles, and is celebrated at the
 end of the harvest season. Passover is in early Spring, Pentecost is in late Spring and the 
Festival of Shelters or Tabernacles or Booths is in Autumn.The Jews at this time remember 
that during the 40 years in the wilderness they lived in shelters or tabernacles, hence
 its name.  The prophet Zechariah says: "Then the survivors from all the nations 
that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King,
 the Lord Almighty,and to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles." (14:16)
  This feast seems to look forward to the time when the Kingdom of God will be 
established on earth in all its fullness at Christ's return.So while we as Christians can
 look back and see how God has used two of these festivals for His redemptive
 purposes and they have in a sense been 'fulfilled', this last one, the feast of 
Tabernacles,is one which we still look forward to being fulfilled.

What Tabernacles anticipates
It points to Christ's return when, according to the New Testament, there will be
 a new Jerusalem and God will tabernacle with people: "Behold the Tabernacle of God is
 with people and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall
 be with them, and be their God." (Rev 21:3)

The Times we are Living in
Can you see that we are now living between the fulfilment of the second and the
 third Festivals, between Pentecost, which has been fulfilled, and Tabernacles, which is yet
 to be fulfilled? Going back to the harvest calendar, the time between these two festivals 
was a time of gathering in the full harvest. No wonder Jesus said to his disciples
 and says to us:"You have a saying, 'Four more months and then the harvest.' 
But I tell you, take a good look at the fields; the crops are now 
ripe and ready to be harvested!"
......and.....
"The harvest is large, but there are few workers to gather it in.Pray to the owner
 of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest."
.......and.....
"For the saying is true, 'Someone plants, someone else reaps.' I have sent you to reap
 a harvest in a field where you did not work; others worked there, 
and you profit from their work."

Jesus and Tabernacles
  After this, Jesus traveled in Galilee; he did not want to travel in Judea, because the 
Jewish authorities there were wanting to kill him. The time for the Festival of 
Tabernacles was near,.... After his brothers had gone to
 the festival, Jesus also went.....On the last and most important day of the festival 
Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice,"Whoever is thirsty should come to me, 
and whoever believes in me should drink.

As the Scripture says, 'Streams of life-giving water will pour out from his side.' "

Happy and blessed harvest preaching to all preachers of the Gospel

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