MINISTUDY Pentecost Pictures the ‘Firstfruits’ in God’s Plan Prepared by Richard H. Sedliacik The Good News, May 1983 God’s master plan continues to unfold before your very eyes! As you discovered in the last two ministudies, there are seven annual festivals picturing God’s plan of salvation for mankind. God instituted these festivals to remind His Church year after year of how He is bringing about His stupendous purpose for our lives — of ultimately becoming spirit-born members of His divine, universe-ruling Family. The Passover is the beginning, the very first step, in His master plan for mankind. It is a memorial to remind us that Jesus Christ (“our Passover” — I Cor. 5:7) paid a tremendous price for our sins. Once we have been forgiven by God, we must strive to put all the “leaven” of sin out of our lives, as pictured by the Feast of Unleavened Bread (I Cor. 5:8). That is our part of God’s plan, which we are to act out every spring by putting physical leaven out of our homes and eating unleavened bread during seven days. This seven-day Festival reminds us of our continual need to obey God’s commandments. But God knows that to successfully put sin out of our lives and keep it out, our own human willpower and abilities are not enough. We need the spiritual strength of God’s Holy Spirit to help us obey God’s spiritual law. This is the third step in God’s master plan, pictured by the third annual Festival, the day of Pentecost. 1. What were God’s instructions regarding this Festival? Lev. 23:15-17, 20. Was this Feast a Holy Day, or Sabbath of rest on which the people were to assemble? Verse 21. Was it to be kept by God’s people every year forever? Same verse. At this point in our study we need to understand the symbolism of a ceremony associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and how it ties in with the third annual Festival. Although the meaning of this ceremony is important, it is no longer performed today because it pictured a future event which has since occurred. 2. What kind of offering had to be presented to God before the spring harvest could begin? Verses 9-11, 14. As explained in the first of this series of seven studies, God established His festivals in conjunction with the two annual agricultural harvests in the land of Palestine. God uses these harvests as a pattern for the two spiritual “harvests” of His great master plan. The first harvest of this part of the world is the relatively smaller spring grain harvest following winter rains. Anciently, it began on the day of the “wavesheaf” offering and ended just before the Feast of Firstfruits, or day of Pentecost as it is called among Greek-speaking peoples. (Pentecost is a Greek term meaning “fiftieth [day].”) In the late summer and early autumn, the second and much bigger harvest is reaped. It follows the late spring rains in Palestine and anciently ended just before the Feast of Ingathering, otherwise known as the Feast of Tabernacles. These physical harvests help us to understand that God is not dealing with the vast majority of the world today. God is calling only the few into His Church during the period between Christ’s life on earth as a human being and His Second Coming. And so God intends the spring festivals to illustrate to His Church yearly that all of those He has called to become His Spirit-begotten children since Christ’s first coming are the “firstfruits” (Jas. 1:18) — the relatively small beginning of His spiritual harvest of mankind into His divine Family. Later, as pictured by the festivals of the much larger autumn harvest season, God will call the billions to salvation and sonship in His glorious Family after Christ’s return. As we read in Leviticus 23, the Days of Unleavened Bread occur at the beginning of the spring harvest season. Many shoots of grain, planted earlier, have grown to maturity. They are now fruit-bearing stalks ready to be harvested. The spring harvest began in the following manner: On the morning of the first day of the week (Sunday) during the Days of Unleavened Bread, a sheaf of newly sickled barley was brought to the priest to be accepted by God. This was called the “wavesheaf offering” and represented the first of the firstfruits harvest. Once the wavesheaf was offered, the harvest could begin. The spring harvest ended by the time of the Feast of Firstfruits 50 days later, when the people gathered on this annual Sabbath to give God thanks for the firstfruits of the year’s crops He had given them (verses 15-17, 21). Now let’s see the connection between the wavesheaf offering and Jesus Christ. 3. Who was the first ever to be resurrected from the dead into God’s Family? I Cor. 15:20. Was He therefore the first of the firstfruits of God’s spiritual harvest? Same verse, Col. 1:18. Therefore, are Spirit-begotten Christians clearly the firstfruits of God’s great master plan? Jas. 1:18, Rom. 8:23. 4. After Christ was resurrected from the dead, did He have to ascend to His Father in heaven? John 20:17. On that same day after returning from heaven, could His disciples touch Him? Compare Matthew 28:9 with John 20:19-20, 27-28. This was the first day of the week (Sunday) during the Days of Unleavened Bread. It was on the very same day that the wavesheaf was offered that Jesus Christ was accepted by His Father as the spiritual “wavesheaf” offering in heaven. Christ therefore fulfilled the symbolism of the Old Testament wavesheaf offering. He was the first resurrected Son of God — the first harvested product of God’s master plan. He became the firstborn Son of God — the first human to complete the process of salvation and be “born again.” But Jesus could not have become the captain of our salvation and our elder brother without possessing an all-important ingredient from God — something we all must have to be born again as He was. 5. Could Jesus do any spiritual works, including obedience to God, with just His human strength? John 5:30, 8:28. Where did He get the necessary power? John 14:10, last part. The Father “dwelt” in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. 6. Did Christ promise the same spiritual help to His disciples? Verse 16. What is the “Helper”? Verse 26. What else is the Holy Spirit called? Verse 17. God’s Spirit had been with the disciples, but Christ promised to send it to be within them, as it had been within Him. 7. After He had been crucified and resurrected from the dead, did Jesus repeat His promise to send the Holy Spirit? Acts 1:8. Where did He tell His disciples to wait until they received God’s Spirit? Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5. 8. On what day did the disciples actually receive God’s Spirit? Acts 2:1-4. Did they thus become members of God’s spiritual Church? I Cor. 12:12-14. It was on the day of Pentecost that God first sent His Spirit to begin His Church — to beget and strengthen the firstfruits He was beginning to call into His Church, symbolically represented by the two “wave loaves” mentioned in Lev. 23:17, 20. Fifty days after Christ’s sacrifice was accepted in heaven, the Holy Spirit came to the disciples just as He had promised. The New Testament Festival of Pentecost is now a memorial that commemorates the founding of the New Testament Church of God, for it was on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 31 that the firstfruits of God’s spiritual harvest began to be prepared for reaping into His Family. ]]>
by Herbert W. Armstrong page 1 Good News May 1981Do you realize thousands of Worldwide Church of God members assemble on the day of Pentecost without really understanding what this Holy Day really means? Test yourself. Read this article and see if you do. WE SIMPLY CAN’T understand WHY we observe the day of Pentecost just by reading the scriptures that apply specifically to that day — or apply specifically to all of God’s festivals, for that matter. You may read these specific scriptures alone and learn that you are COMMANDED to keep them. Actually that’s what Mrs. Loma Armstrong and I did. Do you realize that we kept all these Holy Days alone, by ourselves, while the Church of God members we then knew and fellowshipped with (Sardis era, Rev. 3:1-6) “mocked us to scorn”?
“Laughed to scorn”It was history repeating itself. King Hezekiah of Judah had discovered these days ought to be kept — after both Israel and Judah had ceased observing them for a long time. The Temple at Jerusalem, through disuse, had been filled with filth. Hezekiah had the Temple cleansed. He sent out proclamations to keep the feasts of God. Judah did. Hezekiah sent messengers up into Israel, the northern kingdom, from city to city in Ephraim and Manasseh, to teach them God’s Holy Days must be kept: But “they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them” (II Chron. 30:1-10). I had learned in my intensive, almost night-and-day study of the Sabbath question that we are commanded also to keep the seven annual Holy Days. I DID NOT KNOW WHY! I knew only that God said, “DO IT!” My wife and I did — alone! For seven years!
Parent Philadelphia church kept themIt was not until God used me in raising up the first and parent church of this “Philadelphia era” (Rev. 3:7-13) that they joined with us in keeping these days. At first we kept only the seven annual Sabbaths. It was yet another seven years before God revealed to meTHE REAL MEANING OF THESE DAYS — and that we should keep the entire Feast of Tabernacles — seven days plus the final eighth day, a Holy Day. For 14 years we kept these annual days holy BECAUSE WE SAW THAT GOD COMMANDED IT. We wanted to obey! In due time God revealed to me, and I to the Church, WHY! And even then many in the Church refused to keep more than the Holy Days! And I feel many observing these festivals today do it because the Church does but do not fully understand WHY — the REAL MEANING and God’s PURPOSE in commanding them. I think of the millions observing Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, etc.— days that have NO REAL MEANING. God’s days have MEANING, and this MEANING God wants us to understand. That’s why they are repeated yearly. You need to understand what went before. Again I repeat: It’s like tuning in on a movie in the last 10 or 15 minutes of it. Not having seen what went before — what led up to it — WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT — you can’t understand what you see — you are CONFUSED — it’s MEANINGLESS!
Angels firstFew know it, but God placed angels on earth long before He created the first man and woman. They were spirit beings, composed of spirit — not matter. This earth was to be their PROVING GROUND. We need to understand that CHARACTER, either good or bad, cannot be instantly created by fiat. It must be developed by experience over a space of TIME. So God created angels with MINDS that could have knowledge, could THINK, reason, come to conclusions, make decisions. God told them of His GOVERNMENT that He set over them. To achieve God’s PURPOSE — eventually to finish the creation of the entire UNIVERSE — it was necessary that they all pull together, in harmony and unity. His GOVERNMENT was THE WAY to provide that — and also THE WAY to develop in them holy, righteous and perfect CHARACTER! God set a super archangel, the cherub LUCIFER, on the throne of the earth over the angels — probably a third of all the angels. Even the creation of the angels was not complete until CHARACTER, good or evil, had been SET in them. That required their thinking, reasoning and final decisions as to whether they would choose God’s way, which for brevity I call “GIVE,” or the evil way of “GET.” God’s GOVERNMENT is based on His LAW — the way of “GIVE.” It is the way of LOVE. It is GIVING first of all a return of the LOVE OF GOD that God gives His creatures, — giving it in obedience, reverence, worship, walking in fellowship with God, in a close contact with God. But Lucifer led the angels into the opposite way of “GET.” This is the way of vanity, lust and greed, jealousy, envy, competition, strife, violence, destruction, resentment and bitterness and rebellion against God and His authority over them. The angels SINNED (II Pet. 2:4). They SET their character as EVIL. Lucifer was disqualified to administer the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, but his jurisdiction was the entire earth, and God would not remove him TILL a successor QUALIFIED to RESTORE the GOVERNMENT OF GOD on earth, and also had been INDUCTED INTO OFFICE.
God to reproduce Himself!This left God (Hebrew Elohim, including God and THE WORD, who also was God and later became Jesus Christ — John 1:1-14). The uniplural GOD (Elohim) was the ONLY being who could be relied upon never to violate the law of God’s GOVERNMENT — for it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to sin. Now came the MOST STUPENDOUS, AWESOME PROJECT OF ALL! God would REPRODUCE HIMSELF! He would do this through creating MAN in His own image, but out of matter. Spirit cannot be changed. But matter could be changed from the “GET” way to the “GIVE” way. This required repentance to be granted by God, and the human repenting, and with God’s help CHANGING to GOD’S character. After this mortal MAN could, by a resurrection, be changed to SPIRIT composition, with holy, righteous, perfect CHARACTER, made then IMPOSSIBLE ever to sin — born a Child of GOD! WHAT a fantastic, AWESOME PROJECT! Angelic sin had wrought great devastation to the earth (Gen. 1:2 — Hebrew tohu and bohu, really meaning “waste, empty, decay”), and I think it is indicated this same state of waste and decay occurred simultaneously to all planets in the universe, since they were LUCIFER’S potential jurisdiction. So in six days God RENEWED (Ps. 104:30) the face of the earth for occupation by MAN. The earth was formed of MATTER. God formed MAN of the dust of the ground. WHY? Because, as explained above, matter is subject to CHANGE — spirit is NOT. Once a spirit being is CREATED, he is immortal — changeless — can never be changed. Lucifer’s and his angels’ creation was not completed until THEY made their decision, choosing which CHARACTER they would SET in them, good or evil. They chose evil and can NEVER CHANGE. LUCIFER’S name was changed to SATAN the DEVIL. The angels that sinned became DEMONS. But now, once again, in renewing its face God made the earth BEAUTIFUL. He created fish life, bird life, animal life — each after its own KIND — then said, “Let us [not ME] make MAN in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). In other words, after the God kind — GOD WAS REPRODUCING HIMSELF. That meant ultimately to produce Beings LIKE HIM, actually BORN OF HIM — in HIS FAMILY, and He, GOD, was to become the FATHER of the divine FAMILY, each born of Him, becoming one of His CHILDREN. For the formation of CHARACTER, man must have MIND — capability — as had the angels, to KNOW, to THINK, to REASON, to COME TO CONCLUSIONS, to MAKE CHOICES AND DECISIONS. To give mortal human MAN this MIND power, God put a human spirit in every man that imparts INTELLECT to the human brain. A number of animals have BRAINS of larger or smaller size — otherwise approximately equal to human brain — EXCEPT they lack spirit to impart powers of INTELLECT. But this human spirit does not SEE — the BRAIN sees through the eyes. The BRAIN hears through the ears. Knowledge may be stored in the human spirit, working as a COMPUTER to supply instant recall for THINKING. But the spirit is NOT the MAN — only something ADDED to him. It is capable of receiving and storing knowledge only through the human BRAIN and therefore is CONFINED to PHYSICAL KNOWLEDGE ONLY. The spirit does not impart human LIFE. The LIFE resides in the BLOOD, and is oxidized and keeps the man alive by breathing AIR — the “BREATH OF LIFE.” BUT – one of the WONDERS of the mighty God — this human spirit was made to NEED ANOTHER SPIRIT TO JOIN WITH IT — the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD. This is the very LIFE of God — immortal, divine God life. Once a man receives God’s HOLY SPIRIT as God’s GIFT, he is BEGOTTEN (not yet born) as a CHILD OF GOD. He becomes an HEIR — not yet an inheritor — of God. But God’s HOLY SPIRIT, imparted to man, joins with his human spirit. (“The Spirit [God’s] itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” [Rom. 8:16].) The HOLY SPIRIT adds power to comprehend — to UNDERSTAND — spiritual knowledge and spiritual principles, which carnal man with ONLY the human spirit cannot know. “For what MAN knoweth the things of a man [unknown to animals], save [by] the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but [by] the Spirit of GOD” (I Cor. 2:11). The Holy Spirit imparts spiritual UNDERSTANDING, the LOVE of God, the FAITH of Christ and POWER to overcome. In the Garden of Eden were two trees. One was the “tree of life,” which symbolized the Holy Spirit. Adam NEEDED this Spirit, beside the human spirit already created in him. God offered it freely. But Adam had to make a CHOICE. Also in the midst of the garden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. To take of it was to REJECT God’s HOLY SPIRIT — GOD life, God’s divine LOVE to fulfill God’s law, spiritual knowledge of good and evil — deciding FOR THEMSELVES what is right and what is wrong — whereas God’s LAW defines that — and the tree of LIFE also symbolized God’s LAW and GOD’S GOVERNMENT, which Satan had rejected. In effect, Adam said to God, after being instructed by Him and tempted and misled by Satan: “I choose to go MY OWN WAY — to DECIDE FOR MYSELF what is right and what is wrong. I want to be free to DO AS I PLEASE — not bound by and obedient to YOUR LAW. I want to RULE MYSELF — I reject you as ruler over me.” As the fountainHEAD of the entire human family, he thereby CUT ALL HUMANITY OFF FROM GOD — CUT HUMANITY off from access to the HOLY SPIRIT and any contact with GOD. God then sentenced him and the human family to 6,000 years of being CUT OFF from contact with God. God adopted a 6,000-year “hands-off” policy toward human affairs. In effect, God said, “Go, form your OWN governments, your OWN religions, your OWN forms of education, knowledge, production, your OWN society and civilization.” Adam probably did not realize it, and MAN, since, has NOT realized it, but SATAN has been subtly working in the minds of all humanity, swaying humanity HIS WAY — the way of “GET” (Eph. 2:2, II Cor. 4:4). But — after the 6,000-year trial to PROVE that the way of “GET” leads only to unhappiness, discontent, sorrow, pain and suffering, disease and frustration and DEATH — God’s MASTER PLAN called for 1,000 years of the RULE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD and the establishment of the KINGDOM OF GOD. God reserved the prerogative of intervening at any time He deemed necessary for His ultimate PURPOSE—to REPRODUCE HIMSELF and HIS PERFECT, HOLY, RIGHTEOUS CHARACTER in humans, changed FROM the “GET” to the “GIVE” way and finally made immortal.
Where the Holy Days come inNow, HERE’S where the annual HOLY DAYS and FESTIVALS picture to God’s people annually God’s MASTER PLAN for working out HIS PURPOSE here below! Up to this point I have given you the BACKGROUND without which you simply CANNOT fully understand the annual festivals. So here, in order, are God’s HOLY FESTIVALS! I – THE PASSOVER. This first Festival is NOT a Holy Day or annual Sabbath, but a festival nevertheless. It reminds us annually that Christ died for our sins — for ALL have sinned — and His death paid our penalty in our stead. Jesus was God as well as MAN. God was His only Father. He was begotten in the womb of Mary, not by a male human, but by God the Father through the Holy Spirit. Thus He was able, even though tempted like all other humans — actually far worse — for He had to meet Satan head on in spiritual combat, to overcome Satan and QUALIFY to restore the GOVERNMENT OF GOD on THIS EARTH. Until He had qualified, the assurance of the KINGDOM OF GOD to replace Satan’s invisible rule over mankind could not be announced. At this point it might be well to explain HOW Satan has ruled MAN. He did not say to Eve, through whom he caused Adam to sin, “Choose MY government, based on ‘GET,’ instead of God’s government, based on ‘GIVE.’ ” He led her, and through her Adam, to believe they were simply setting out ON THEIR OWN, deciding for themselves what is right and what is wrong, actually setting up their own human rule. So man has actually believed ever since. He has been deceived. He does not know Satan is his real ruler.
HOW Satan sways manSatan is subtle. He DECEIVES. A deceived person does not know he is deceived — that he is wrong. He thinks he is RIGHT! Satan has DECEIVED THE WHOLE WORLD (Rev. 12:9). How? Satan is a SPIRIT being. He is the prince of the POWER OF THE AIR (Eph. 2:2). I told you about the human spirit in every human. When God wanted to communicate with Cyrus, king of Persia, to move him to send out a proclamation to move a contingent of captive Jews back to Jerusalem to build the second Temple, “the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom” (Ezra 1:1), saying God had charged him to have this Temple built. God moved Cyrus through Cyrus’ human spirit to do His will. Likewise, Satan, a powerful spirit being next to God in power, and prince of the power of the air, is the SPIRIT “that NOW worketh in the children of disobedience” — that is, all humanity. I could not have understood that until I myself began BROADCASTING by radio and television. Every human spirit is TUNED IN ON HIS WAVELENGTH. He does not broadcast in words or music or pictures. You hear no sound. He broadcasts in ATTITUDES — attitudes of vanity, lust and greed, envy and jealousy, the spirit of competition, strife, bitterness and anger, hatred, violence, rebellion against GOD. Thus he is the god of this world, who has been able to have “blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ . . . should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:4). Yes, he is the god of this world’s many religions. They know not the TRUE God. So has Satan continued to RULE THE WORLD, still on the throne of the earth where God placed him when his name was LUCIFER. It is so cleverly done man thinks he is ruling himself. Christ in the Bible is called the “SECOND ADAM.” Where the first Adam fell before Satan’s subtlety, the second Adam chose the “GIVE” way and conquered Satan, qualifying to RESTORE THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. Just a few words at this point of events between the first and second Adam. God must have revealed some truth and His PURPOSE and PLAN to a few, from the time of Adam and Eve. Abel was called righteous by Jesus. Enoch walked with God. Noah was perfect, not only in his generations (ancestry), but in obedience to God. God spoke direct to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and blessed whatever Joseph did. Then God intervened in this world’s affairs by miraculously leading the slave descendants of Abraham out of Egypt. And God began revealing His truth IN WRITING through Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Bible. And here we find the first record of the annual Holy Day festivals. Yet we must put Leviticus 23 and the other sparse notices of the festivals with other scriptures, as I am here doing, to perfectly UNDERSTAND THEM and their REAL MEANING. God called Israel, NOT for spiritual salvation, but as a carnal people of THIS WORLD, to whom He could reveal certain knowledge and laws, and test their willingness to obey — to demonstrate that, WITHOUT the Holy Spirit, the natural mind of man is wholly carnal (physical, material, fleshly). God gave His Holy Spirit ONLY to the prophets of His own choosing for the purpose of doing God’s WORK as assigned to them. The Passover commemorates the Passover night in Egypt, when the death angel flew over Egypt, killing the firstborn in every house where the BLOOD (lamb’s) was not on the side posts and upper doorpost of the houses. The Israelites killed and ate roast lamb that night — a type of the crucifixion of Christ, called the Lamb of God. Therefore the MEANING of Passover is to remind us yearly of Christ’s death in payment of the penalty of our sins. But Christ’s DEATH does not save us, by imparting ETERNAL LIFE. It merely RECONCILES US TO GOD. Those so reconciled are no longer CUT OFF from God. Through Christ they have been restored to CONTACT with God, who has eternal life to GIVE. Read Romans 5:8-10. We are finally SAVED by His RESURRECTION, not His death. The “blood of Christ” is the START toward eternal life, not the completion of it. II – Now we come to the SECOND Festival — the SEVEN DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD. Remember, the first step is coming to Christ and accepting His shed blood as payment for our sins. But Jesus said plainly, “No MAN CAN COME TO ME, EXCEPT THE FATHER WHICH HATH SENT ME DRAW HIM” (JOHN 6:44). THE WORLD IS CUT OFF FROM GOD. The only way to reestablish contact with God (the Father) is through CHRIST. And except the FATHER DRAW HIM, by means of His Holy Spirit, NO MAN CAN come to Christ. Jesus selected and directly called His disciples. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16), Jesus said. ONLY THOSE SPECIALLY CHOSEN (predestinated) BY THE FATHER could, in the day of Jesus and the apostles, come to Christ. So it has been through this Church age; God IS NOT TRYING, now, to get the world saved. Rather, we are STILL in the 6,000-year time when MAN IS CUT OFF from God. And GOD IS DRAWING to Christ ONLY those PREDESTINED (CHOSEN) by God! It was GOD’S PURPOSE that MAN should write the lesson in human experience that the “GET” way leads only to unhappiness, discontent, suffering, frustration, destruction — and DEATH! Man has WRITTEN that lesson in human anguish, but HAS NOT YET LEARNED IT! God is going to PROVE, once and for all time, that only His WAY and HIS GOVERNMENT can produce PEACE and HAPPINESS and things GOOD! Now, for those predestinated and CALLED, and DRAWN to Christ by the Father, the Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures PUTTING SIN OUT OF OUR LIVES. Leaven puffs up, as does vanity and sin. It is a type of sin — not wrong in itself, but putting all leaven out of our dwellings for seven days pictures putting the “GET” way out of our lives — turning from “GET” to “GIVE.” This is the BEGINING OF BUILDING INTO OUR LIVES HOLY, RIGHTEOUS, PERFECT, GODLY CHARACTER. Seven is the number that denotes COMPLETENESS. So it means complete change. Also, it begins the 15th day of God’s sacred year, first month, NISAN, the anniversary of the day the Israelites started out of Egypt BY NIGHT. Egypt also is a type of SIN. The first of these days and the seventh are annual HOLY Sabbaths. III – The THIRD annual Festival is PENTECOST, so called because of its use in Acts 2:1. It MEANS “count 50.” This one Feast God leaves it to us to COUNT for ourselves, beginning WITH the morrow after the Sabbath during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Forty-eight years ago I checked with every translation into English of the Bible, and every translation of that time said count 50 FROM the Sunday following the weekly Sabbath during the seven-day Festival. Then we discovered — and I forced men on the committee that translated the Revised Standard Version to admit — that it is a misleading translation to those who speak only English and are not familiar with Hebrew usage — that it should be translated “on” or “beginning on.” Originally this Feast was called Feast of Firstfruits, because it portrayed the very FIRST spiritual harvest of God’s begotten children. All seven festivals were based on the annual MATERIAL harvest in the”Holy Land.” There were the two harvests yearly — the first the early grain harvest, early summer; the main harvest being the fall harvest, with four festivals coming in the seventh month of the sacred calendar. Thus, the annual festivals use the MATERIAL harvest to picture the SPIRITUAL.
FIRST group to receive Holy SpiritREMEMBER, Adam cut mankind off from God. Man must have CONTACT WITH GOD THE FATHER to receive the Holy Spirit. The “tree of life” in the Garden of Eden meant God freely offered Adam — and his children, who form humanity — the Holy Spirit, but Adam had to make a CHOICE between that and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life represented God’s Holy Spirit and the “GIVE” way of life. The other tree represented Satan’s “GET” way of life. Adam chose, for the human race, the “GET” way. Then God drove MAN (representing humanity) from the Garden of Eden, “lest he . . . take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever(Gen. 3:22). True, God Himself gave Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the prophets His Spirit for SPECIAL PURPOSES and to enable them to do THE WORK He assigned to them — of His own choosing. Otherwise none can come to the Father but through CHRIST. And Jesus said plainly,”NO MAN CAN COME TO ME, EXCEPT THE FATHER WHICH HATH SENT ME DRAW HIM”(John 6:44). It is PLAIN, then, that spiritual salvation was CLOSED to all humanity, except those I have mentioned, until after Christ’s ascension to heaven. Jesus had said to His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion: “But now I go my way to him that sent me … It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter [Holy Spirit] will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:5-7). It was on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover week, that the Holy Spirit CAME and entered into those of the CHURCH — numbering 120. It was the FIRST TIME there was any spiritual GROUP salvation. It was the day the CHURCH OF GOD was begotten. Three thousand more were ADDED. These were those God had CALLED — had been predestinated to be called THEN and not in the Millennium, when EVERYBODY LIVING will be called. On that day Peter, now inspired by the Holy Spirit, said, “For the PROMISE [of the Holy Spirit] is unto you, and to your children . . . even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). And in verse 47, “And THE LORD added to the church daily such as should be saved.” The apostles did not go out soliciting converts — God CALLED them — it was GOD and not the apostles who ADDED to the Church. A day or two later 2,000 more were added. Then for a VERY short while the Church membership MULTIPLIED. But soon the persecution SCATTERED the converts, and the growth apparently diminished. Soon the true Gospel was SUPPRESSED. It’s possible the Church membership is the LARGEST today it has ever been. For THE PURPOSE of the Church is: 1) To stand back of the apostles in prayers, tithes and offerings in getting the GOSPEL ANNOUNCED to theWORLD — and it’s a BIGGER WORLD to be reached today. 2) To DEVELOP HOLY, RIGHTEOUSAND PERFECT CHARACTER in those called and to sit with Christ on His throne when He comes to rule the world and to be given power to RULE the WORLD. So REALIZE THIS! Pentecost is to remind us every year that we (the Church) are only the FIRST small harvest of God’s calling people for salvation OUT OF A WORLD THAT IS WHOLLY, except for us, CUT OFF FROM GOD, AND THAT HAS BEEN SINCE ADAM! The WORLD as a whole is still CUT OFF! We are those who have been PREDESTINATED to be called NOW! We have been called to receive the HOLY SPIRIT. WHAT IS the Holy Spirit? It is that second Spirit man needs to go with the human spirit in every human. It is the impregnation of GOD life, which makes us His CHILDREN NOW, even though only begotten and not yet BORN — HEIRS, not yet INHERITORS — begotten into the GOD FAMILY. It is the Spirit of UNDERSTANDING, imparting to the physical brain SPIRITUAL INTELLECT, ability to comprehend SPIRITUAL knowledge. It is the LOVE of God placed within us — divine LOVE. It is the FAITH of CHRIST, the same FAITH with which Jesus performed His miracles, now given to us — placed within us. It is also spiritual POWER to overcome. The spiritual POWER to help us turn from and resist the “GET” way and turn to the “GIVE” way. It is the POWER by which we may develop the HOLY, RIGHTEOUS, PERFECT CHARACTER, which is GOD’S PURPOSE for having PUT humanity on the earth — that GOD MAY THUS REPRODUCE HIMSELF! IV – First of the AUTUMN festivals is the FEAST OF TRUMPETS, on the first day of the seventh month, sacred calendar. This represents the COMING OF CHRIST IN SUPREME ALMIGHTY POWER AND GLORY to set up the KINGDOM OF GOD, to RESTORE THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. V – The fifth Festival is another one-day HOLY DAY — the FAST day — picturing the putting away of SATAN, since his Successor has not only QUALIFIED (more than 1,900 years ago), but now is INDUCTED INTO OFFICE. AT LAST the world is rid of Satan — at ONE with God. VI – On the 15th day of the seventh month begins the FEAST OF TABERNACLES — the MILLENNIUM — the time of the physical FALL HARVEST in Jerusalem and environs and the time when ALL THEN LIVING SHALL BE CALLED and given the chance to repent, believe and receive salvation. This Feast lasts SEVEN DAYS, with the first day an annual Sabbath. VII – This is followed, the very next day, by a HOLY DAY, picturing the GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT — the time when ALL who ever lived and were not CALLED shall be RESURRECTED MORTAL, just as they were — human flesh and blood. They will be able to see and KNOW the results of the 6,000 years of the “GET” way of man, cut off from God, as well as the 1,000 years of the “GIVE” way under Christ. Then will every one be “CALLED” — given opportunity to REPENT and BELIEVE and receive the Holy Spirit and eternal life in the KINGDOM OF GOD! That concludes the Festivals of God. They vividly picture His MASTER PLAN. All that remains will be the resurrection of those who WERE CALLED but, like Lucifer, rejected the call and the KINGDOM OF GOD! They shall go into the LAKE OF FIRE — the second death for each — to become ashes under the soles of our feet and all memory of them blotted from our minds. On beyond this, we, the GOD FAMILY, BILLIONS of us, all of us possessing HOLY, RIGHTEOUS AND PERFECT CHARACTER, all of us UNABLE TO SIN, shall then go on and COMPLETE THE BEAUTIFICATION AND CREATION OF THE ENTIRE VAST UNIVERSE, constantly looking forward in joyous anticipation and ecstasy to still GREATER and more marvelous and awesome things to do throughout the whole endless UNIVERSE — always looking back on supreme and glorious accomplishments that only an ALMIGHTY GOD could do! And THAT is the awesome human POTENTIAL!]]>
Pentecost in God’s Master Plan By Jerold W. Aust The Good News, May 1985 Pentecost, the Feast of Firstfruits, one of God’s seven annual Holy Days, pictures an important step in God’s master plan of salvation! This Holy Day helps explain the different times when salvation will be offered to different segments of mankind. God’s two harvests God’s annual Holy Days are laid out according to the seasons in Palestine. And God uses two harvests of Palestine to symbolize His two separate harvests of all human lives. The earlier, much smaller harvest begins with Pentecost, and the latter, much larger harvest begins with the Feast of Tabernacles and ends with the Last Great Day. You need to be concerned with this earlier harvest. It is being planted right now. We’ll use one of Jesus’ parables to help explain: “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way’ ” (Matthew 13:24-25). In this parable Jesus likens God’s plan of salvation to a physical harvest of grain or wheat. “His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’ He answered and said to them: ‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age’ ” (verses 36-40). God is in the process of planting good seed now. He is calling thousands through this work that is presently being done through the Worldwide Church of God. And thousands are responding to that calling. He may be planting in you. But Satan is not idle. He, too, is planting his tares among the wheat in God’s field — this world. It’s critical to determine whether we are wheat or tares. Tares look like wheat. A tare is shaped like a wheat stock and head, but its content is dwarfed at best or nonexistent. When tares sprout with wheat, they look similar. Even after they are both grown, from a short distance it is difficult to distinguish between them. But to the discerning eye, the difference is obvious. God always knows the difference between his “wheat” and the “tares” of Satan’s world. God’s people are known by their good fruits (Matthew 7:16, 20). Many called, but few chosen Jesus Christ said that many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). God’s earlier, smaller harvest will be made up of the relatively few people who are truly submitting to God today. The vast majority of people who have ever lived will have their chance for salvation during the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment, symbolized by the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. This will be the great fall harvest. To most of the world, the day of Pentecost remains a mystery. But you are being given the chance to understand now. This day of Pentecost represents your turn in God’s master plan of harvesting all human lives. You, too, can help declare to a blinded world the truth of God. Notice the fantastic meaning the day of Pentecost has for those called now: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they [of the early harvest, symbolized by Pentecost today] shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6). The amazing meaning of Pentecost is now revealed to you. What is your next move going to be? [Photo Caption — Wheat (left) and tares (right). God’s wheat will be revealed at Christ’s return.] ]]>