Harvest Period #2: The Feast of Pentecost
The Feast of Pentecost represents the second harvest period in God’s plan of salvation.
“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread . . ., and the Feast of Harvest (Weeks/Pentecost) . . ., and the Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles) at the end of the year . . .” (Exod. 23:14-16).
These 3 particular feasts mark the 3 time periods of God’s harvest plan, when people will receive salvation and become members of the God family.
Previous understanding of Pentecost
Who are the individuals that will compose this 2nd harvest period of God’s plan of salvation?
God’s late apostle, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, taught the Feast of Pentecost represents the time when God’s Church, those called out of this world now by God the Father, will qualify to receive salvation. Notice some excerpts from his booklet, “Pagan Holidays, God’s Holy Days, Which?”
“Passover symbolized Christ's sacrifice for the remission of our sins, and the days of unleavened bread the putting away of sin. Pentecost pictures the first part of the spiritual harvest - the calling out of the Church - the called-out ones . . .” pg. 31
Mr. Armstrong coupled his explanation on the meaning of Pentecost with the establishment of God’s Church in the 1st century.
“Those now gathered, since that day of Pentecost, . . . , are the firstfruits only, of God's plan of salvation. This dispensation, then, is picking out only the "firstfruits" of those to be saved." pg. 36
In connecting the meaning of Pentecost to the establishment of the New Testament Church of God, Mr. Armstrong identified the 2 wave loaves as representing God’s Church, the first group of individuals to become members of God’s family.
“On the fiftieth day (Pentecost) in Old Testament times, two "wave loaves" (Lev. 23:17, 20) were brought out of the habitations of the congregation as the firstfruits unto the Lord. Just so the New Testament Church was gathered out of this world as the firstfruits of His salvation, in fulfillment of the meaning of the wave loaves.” pg. 31
Mr. Armstrong’s explanation of Pentecost confines this part of God’s harvest plan only to His Church. The very first group of human beings to become part of God’s family.
“In James 1:18 and Romans 8:23, for example, the saints of this dispensation are called the firstfruits of God's salvation. This dispensation, and the picking out of these people to bear His name, began on the day of Pentecost. This feast annually pictures this great event - this great "mystery" dispensation - in God's redemptive plan!” pg. 35
Much of Mr. Armstrong’s focus and teaching encompassed the meaning and purpose of God’s Church as reflected in the quotations above. But does the meaning of Pentecost have a broader meaning than he understood during his lifetime?
Do the 2 wave loaves actually represent God’s Church or could they possibly represent someone else?
What does fine flour and leaven baked together signify?
And why are these wave loaves acceptable to God as an offering?
The timing of firstfruit offerings
Pentecost originally was called the “Feast of Weeks” (Exod. 34:23). It derives its name by counting 7 weeks from the offering of the wave sheaf, plus 1 additional day.
“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath (weekly Sabbath during Feast of Unleavened Bread), from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven (weekly) Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD (Lev. 23:15-16).”
The count of these 50 days begins on the first day of the week (Sunday), after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It ends with the Feast of Weeks on the 50th day (Sunday).
The table below illustrates how this count is to be conducted.
The spring harvest lasted for a total of 50 days, beginning with the wave sheaf offering and ending with the offering of the 2 wave loaves on the Feast of Pentecost.
2 different groups of firstfruits
God called both, the wave sheaf and 2 wave loaves, firstfruits. In recording God’s instruction about these 2 offerings, Moses used 2 different Hebrew words to differentiate the wave sheaf as firstfruits (Lev. 23:10-14) from the 2 wave loaves (Lev. 23:15-20).
The differences in meaning are significant for understanding the timing of this phase of God’s redemptive plan for human beings.
To describe the wave sheaf in (Lev. 23:10), Moses used the Hebrew word reshiyth, (7225), in Strong's Concordance, which means “the first, in place, time order or rank, specifically a firstfruit.”
This distinction is very important in understanding God’s plan of salvation and must not be overlooked. Moses’ use of 2 different words describing firstfruits shows there are 2 different groups of firstfruits based on the timing of their presentations to God.
2 wave loaves = God’s Church?
Do the ingredients of the 2 wave loaves reflect the Bible’s description of the resurrected Church of God, which qualifies to rule under Jesus Christ before His 2nd Coming?
The ingredients of the wave loaves consisted of fine flour and leaven. What do these ingredients represent?
Fine flour pictures the development of righteous character.
While leaven pictures sin. Is this an accurate description of the resurrected Church of God?
In speaking of the resurrected Church, Paul describes it as “incorruptible.”
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold I tell you a mystery (a hidden truth): We (the Church of God) shall not all sleep (remain dead), but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:50-53).
John points to this same incorruptible character in describing the 144,000 firstfruits of Revelation 14.
“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God” (verses 1, 4b, 5).
The 144,000 firstfruits represent the sum total of those in the 1st resurrection (Rev. 20:6). They are without sin, completely unleavened. These firstfruits are represented by the wave sheaf offering, as explained in M24S previous blog on “Harvest Period #1.” When harvested, this sheaf of individuals are to be presented to God the Father by their resurrected high priest, Jesus Christ (Heb. 8:1-2), during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, shortly after receiving eternal life.
Based on the Bible’s description of those in the 1st resurrection, the 2 wave loaves cannot represent those of the Church of God, resurrected. These individuals are perfect, without sin.
Identifying the 2 wave loaves
Why does God find these 2 loaves of bread, baked with leaven, acceptable before Him?
God does not tolerate sin. He expects people to repent of their sins. Yet these 2 loaves are waved before God as an acceptable offering. Why?
God finds these loaves acceptable because they represent Israelites and Gentiles who will be converted and overcome sin during the millennium to become members of His family.
God’s Word is very clear, sin will be present on earth during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Notice an example from Zechariah 14 bearing out this fact.
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16-19).
These verses show there will be people in “The World Tomorrow” who will not come to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles after God’s Kingdom is established on earth.
God’s festivals are commanded assemblies by God (Lev. 23:2). Anyone who does not keep His feasts, commits sin.
End of the harvest
The 2 wave loaves are presented at the end of the spring harvest. This timing coincides with the end of the millennial reign of Christ. The 50 days between the wave sheaf offering and the offering of the 2 wave loaves represents the 1,000 year reign of Christ on this earth (Rev. 20:6).
People in the millennium will be taught and expected to keep God’s law during this time.
“Behold the days are coming, says the LORD, when I make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer. 31:31, 33).
People in “The Wonderful World Tomorrow” will have to be educated in God’s Way of Life and shown their sins, based on God’s Word. Those sins will have to be repented of, after which they can be baptized and receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.
“Then one of the elders answered, saying to me (John), “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:13-14, 17).
Human beings in “The World Tomorrow” will have to go through the same process of repentance and overcoming those in God’s Church go through during their physical lives. People in the millennium will develop God’s character and overcome sin, but without having to contend with Satan the Devil (Rev. 20:1-2).
All are firstfruits
It is important to recognize the wave sheaf and the 2 wave loaves are both firstfruits in God’s redemptive plan. The difference between these 2 groups is the timing of their harvest.
God’s Church, the wave sheaf, is harvested and presented by Christ before God the Father shortly after being resurrected, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Those converted in the millennium, the 2 wave loaves, will be harvested and presented to the Father at the end of Christ’s millennial reign, signifying the meaning of the Feast of Pentecost.
The diagram below illustrates the timing of these 2 harvests periods.
Mr. Armstrong’s explanation of Pentecost limiting the spring harvest to only God’s Church was incorrect. The meaning of the spring harvest is much greater in scope than originally understood. And this is proven through the timing of when these 2 groups of firstfruits are harvested.
This revelation of information enforces the need for God’s people to continue growing in the “grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (II Pet. 3:18). However, this is hard to do when Christ’s describes the vast majority of God’s Church as being “lukewarm” (Rev. 3:14-17).
Do Christ’s words apply to you in these end-times?