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The Wheat Disciples Of Christ

Pentecost and Pentecost Sunday

(This study is part of the Bible study Back To Jerusalem.)



Pentecost Sunday commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). It was on this day, May 28, 2023, that this revelation came to my wife and I, and our youngest daughter as we sat in our living room on that Sunday morning, in our own little home church. But first we need to look at what the Feast of Pentecost is.


Leviticus 23:4It is the “appointed time” to proclaim what the Spirit is revealing to the church.

4 'These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.

NKJV



The first thing we need is to have to a basic understanding of the Feast of Pentecost, and Pentecost Sunday so as to understand why it’s the appointed time to proclaim what the Spirit is saying to the church in this pivotal time period before the return of Christ.


Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot; shuh-voo’-owt)

  • The second of the three annual feasts of the Lord, it was primarily a thanksgiving in the Spring for the firstfruits of the wheat harvest.


The following excerpts are from the article “The Jewish Roots of the Feast of Pentecost” by Rich Robinson (April 27, 2021):


“Shavuot was originally a harvest festival, the second of two firstfruits occasions. In Leviticus 23, following the description of Passover, we read this:


‘And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, when you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave [5130- “to move to and fro, to wave, to sprinkle, to shake”; see Luke 22:31-34 and Amos 9:9 below] the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may be accepted [7522- “favor, goodwill, acceptance, will, desire, pleasure” (Matthew 3:16-17, 17:5; see the Bible study Well Pleased)]. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave [5130] it.”’ (v. 9-11)


This was the first firstfruits offering [Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Jesus was the first “waved” offering presented to the Father, and accepted], the harvest of barley [see Ruth 1:22; Naomi had been sifted by the Lord in Moab; returned at the beginning of barley harvest (i.e., the latter rain); see Peter’s sifting in Luke 22:31-34 below], which includes sacrifices. Next, we read about the second firstfruits occasion, the holiday of Shavuot:


“You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new [2319- “new, new thing, fresh”] grain to the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:15-16)


This time it is the wheat harvest [the disciples in the upper room on Pentecost]. Because it occurs seven weeks after the first offering (50 days, the day after the completion of the seven weeks), the holiday was known as Shavuot, or Weeks…


The day God gave the Torah (law of Moses) on Mount Sinai was calculated as falling exactly on the day of Shavuot. By the time of Jesus, in addition to being the firstfruits holiday, it had also become the anniversary of the giving of the law. It was on this very holiday, when tens of thousands of pilgrims were bringing their firstfruits, that the events of Acts 2 took place … [look at the contrast between when the law was given (Exodus 32:28), and when the Holy Spirit was poured out (Acts 2:4). Both involved 3,000 people, one unto death and the other unto life. Paul said, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:5/NIV)]


… Peter’s explanation is that Acts 2 is a fulfillment of the prophet Joel, that in the last days God’s Spirit would be poured out, with one of the results being “prophecy,” or speaking forth God’s words [see Isaiah 8:20 in the Bible study Outer Darkness]. The events of Acts 2 are the result of God’s Spirit at work. Acts 2 reveals that there is a new revelation happening. Jerusalem has become the location of recreating Mount Sinai and the words of the disciples are a new word from God. This is not a negation and replacement of the Torah (Law of Moses). It is rather a fulfillment of the hopes of the Torah and Prophets, a fulfillment of the hopes of the Jewish people in the appearance of the Messiah, and this calls for a new word from on high


… In Genesis 11, at the Tower of Babel, God confused the languages of the world so that people could no longer understand one another. In Acts 2 that confusion, at least for the moment, was undone. The promise of the Gospel is that one day humanity will find reconciliation and unity through faith in the Messiah Jesus. In Acts, we have a “down payment,” or promise, that that will eventually indeed happen.


Shavuot/Pentecost was the second occasion of the Jewish calendar on which to bring the first of the crops to God. Seven weeks earlier at the barley harvest [see Ruth 1:22, 2:21-23], firstfruits were brought, and now wheat was coming in.


When the first of the crop came in, it was a visual promise that the rest of the crop would follow. And so the idea of first fruits became a metaphor for the first of anything that would follow in larger measure…


Jesus’ resurrection is like the first of the crops [see 1 Corinthians 15:20-26 below]. It’s a promise and guarantee that more resurrection will follow, namely of those who place their faith in Him…


“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23) As believers, God’s Spirit dwells in us individually and corporately. But the fullness of what that means lies in the future, when we experience the fullness of the Spirit’s work in our lives.


“Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.” (Romans 16:5/NKJV) And, “I urge you, brethren — you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (1 Corinthians 16:15/NKJV) In keeping with the meaning of firstfruits, Paul envisioned more coming to faith, both Jews and Gentiles.


“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (James 1:18). James writes that believers are the first evidence that God will redeem the universe on a grand scale. With all our imperfections and failings, God tells us that we are the first of something much greater. We are the firstfruits of redemption, God’s harbinger of the future.”



The following excerpts are from the article “Question: ‘What was the Feast of Firstfruits?’” (www.gotquestions.org)


“One of the seven feasts of the Lord, the Feast of Firstfruits was celebrated on the sixteenth day of the Jewish month Nisan, two days after the Passover festival began… As its name suggests, The Feast of Firstfruits required the Israelites to bring “a sheaf of the first grain” they harvested each year to the priest (Lev. 23:10). A sheaf is a bundle or a cluster of harvested grains. The priest would then take the sheaf and wave it [5130- “to move to and fro, to wave, to sprinkle, to shake”; see Luke 22:31-32 and Amos 9:9 below] before the Lord the day after the Sabbath. On the same day, all the Israelites were to sacrifice a year-old lamb without defect [picture of Christ] as a burnt offering and give a food offering of grain, oil, and wine (Lev. 23:11-13). The Israelites were not allowed to eat any of the crop until the day the first portion was brought before the priest. The firstfruits belonged to God, and the people of Israel acknowledged God as the source of their crops and their provision overall (Lev. 23:14).”


Amos 9:9-10The sifting of God’s people. See the note below.

9 "For surely I will command, and will sift [5128- “to wave, to waver, to shake, to sift, to toss about, to totter, to disturb”; see Luke 22:31-32 below – Satan sifting Peter, a “firstfruit”/wheat disciple] the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.

10 All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword, who say, 'The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.'

NKJV


As with Israel, it is by sifting and shaking that the chaff is removed from among the church and the kernels, or grains are revealed (see the Bible study Shaking). I see the disciples in Acts 2 as the sheaf that was joined together in Christ. They were the second, firstfruits group, after Christ, that were sifted by the devil (see Luke 22:31-34 below), and then strengthened by the Holy Spirit, so as to be waved before the Lord as an acceptable offering that would be given to the world as a sign and wonder from Him (see my July 10, 2023 entry in My Journal Of Healing). Their presentation before God was the guarantee that more souls would follow.

Their imperfect hearts were proven in time through the fiery trials they experienced while walking together with Jesus. He who knows the heart saw that they would eventually, through further and even greater trials, become the mature grain that would stand firm in Him until the end. Judas, on the other hand, would prove to be a chaff-like disciple that did not stand the test and fell away. Unfortunately, his spirit of betrayal has never left the church which is why, at the end of this age, the Lord will clear His threshing floor, removing the chaff from among us (Matthew 3:11-12).

We all have chaff tendencies within us that need to be cast off, which is why the Lord is mercifully going to help us through the prophesied shaking of the earth (Hebrews 12:25-29). At the end of this age there will, once again be a sifted, shaken, proven sheaf of disciples that must be presented before the Lord first before the rest of the final harvest of souls is ushered into the kingdom of God. The Lord had told Moses that the Israelites were not allowed to eat any of the crop until the day the first portion was brought before the priest (Leviticus 23:14). The firstfruits belonged to God. This is the way of the Lord at the end of this age.

The Lord declares, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:10/NIV). So then, at the beginning of the church in Acts 2, it is revealed to us, by the Spirit, what He is now doing at the end. The firstfruit “wheat” disciples are being sifted and shaken. After their revealing, the final harvest of the Lord will be gathered into His storehouse.

Regarding the untying of the colt and its mother in Matthew 21 (for more on who they represent see the Bible study Back To Jerusalem), the mother was birthed before the colt. It’s the way, the “natural” order of God. The “mother” represents the firstfruit disciples that are loosed first, before the colt, for the final mission, the final harvest of souls on earth. Like Jesus’ disciples on Pentecost, they will then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, be used to loosen the “colts,” the young Christians. And then the end will come! (See 1 Cor. 15:23-24 below.)



Luke 22:31-34In this passage we see the sifting of Peter by Satan. After he turned back to the Lord from his disowning of Christ, he would play a major role among the acceptable firstfruits offering of “wheat-like” disciples that would be “waved” before the Father by our High Priest, Jesus Christ. As we have learned, this occurred so that others could eat from the provision of the Lord in the harvest of souls, including ours, that was to come. Peter’s sifting by the devil would result in his being filled with the Spirit, for the salvation of others. It’s reassuring to know that, like Job, the devil had to gain permission to sift him. And even more comforting is to know that the Lord is praying for you! (See Hebrews 7:23-25 which says Jesus, our eternal High Priest, always intercedes for those who draw near to God through Him.)

31 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission [1809- “to ask from, for oneself; demand of”] to sift [4617- “to winnow, to sift, shake in a sieve”] you like wheat;

32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail [1587- “to leave off, cease, fail”]; and you, when once you have turned again [1994- “to return, turn back, come back”], strengthen [4741- “to make stable, make firm, set fast, fix”; see Luke 9:51; the resolve of Jesus] your brothers."

33 But he said to Him, "Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!"

34 And He said, "I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me."

NASU



1 Corinthians 15:20-26Jesus is the firstfruit, the guarantee that there will be more who will partake of His resurrection. Notice though that Paul declares, “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end…” So, at the end of this age we can be confident that those who have died in Christ will rise again, like Christ, “then comes the end!” And so, as the Scriptures declare, the last enemy of death will have been defeated (1 Cor. 15:26). The last group on earth when Christ returns will not die physically, but like a person on their death bed, they/we will have to deal with anything that needs to be made right with the Lord, as if they/we were physically dying. The end of the age, of “the end of all things” as we know them now will be similar to the end of a person’s life. There will not be another chance to make things right. Judgment will be next.

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,

24 then comes the end [see Matthew 24:14], when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.

25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

NASU



Differences between wheat and barley:

  • They have a similar plant structure making it difficult to tell the two apart before they reach maturity [similar to wheat and tares]. It’s because the seeds, which form late in the reproductive phase, have very different structures.

  • Each plant has spikes that produce seed heads. The seed head of barley produces 20 to 60 grains, wheat produces 30 to 50 grains.

  • The seeds themselves have very distinct differences. Both have seed coverings. Those of the grain wheat are loosely fitted, while the outer layer of barley is fused to the inner seed.

  • There are 6 basic wheat types, and 2 basic barley types.

  • Barley has a higher nutritional value then wheat.

(“Wheat vs. Barley: What’s The Difference?”; www.epicgardening.com/wheat-vs-barley/)



The following excerpts are from the article “Pesach, Chag HaMatzot, Yom HaRahsheet: Dead to Sin, Alive to Him; Shabbat, April 22, 2000” by an unnamed Rabbi)


“This week, we are actually celebrating, not one, not two, but three distinct holiday: Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Day of Firstfruits. These three festivals speak of three stages of salvation: justification, sanctification and glorification. Yeshua has already fulfilled all three. Now it’s our turn! As Romans 6:5 says, “If we [don’t miss the “big if” conditional statement to follow!] have been united with (Messiah) like this in His death, we will certainly be united with Him in His resurrection”…

Pesach [Passover], the first festival of the Jewish calendar, commemorates the deliverance of Israel by the blood of the Lamb, whose blood was spread on the doorposts of their houses. It also commemorates the deliverance of all people who put their trust in the blood of the Lamb, whose blood was poured out on the crossbeams of a Roman execution stake. The blood of the Paschal lamb told the angel of death that he must “pass over” these houses. Thus, the sons of Israel were redeemed. [And so will we!]

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world brings justification to those who put their trust in the atoning power of His blood. As Romans 5:9 says, “Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him?”…

Chag HaMatzot, the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread which begins on Erev Passover, is a week of sanctification, being especially set apart for God, to be holy as He is holy. It is a time for putting away leaven and keeping it out of lives… [See 1 Cor. 5:7 and Psalm 139:23.]

Sanctification is something that God does in us, when we yield to His Spirit. So in Philippians 2:12, the apostle urges us to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” God is working to bring about sanctification, for I cannot make myself holy.

Nevertheless, I must cooperate, by continuing to work out my salvation. And the starting point for getting my will in gear is what the Bible calls “the fear of the Lord.” Proverbs 16:6 declares, “By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil”…

The Holy Spirit wants to bless me, bless all of us, much more! A new thing, new life, new souls for the Kingdom! [See the definition for “new grain” in Leviticus 23:15-16 earlier.] Yet He holds back many wonderful blessings so long as I indulge my flesh…

On [the Day of Firstfruits]… standing barley [was] cut down by a sickle. Again we see that the first firstfruits is Messiah, unleavened, sinless and pure…

Thus Yom HaRaysheet [Day of Firstfruits] speaks of the third stage of our salvation: glorification. Yeshua has gone to glory before us and given us the hope of glory. If sanctification is hard sometimes, hang in there, the end is in sight!...

[Jesus] has already gone the whole mile for us: working our justification on the cross, our sanctification in the grave, and our glorification with Him in the resurrection!”



Pentecost Sunday


The following description of Pentecost Sunday is from an article entitled “What Is Pentecost Sunday?” (https://www.gotquestions.org/Pentecost-Sunday.html)


Pentecost Sunday is a commemoration and celebration of the receiving of the Holy Spirit by the early church. John the Baptist prophesied of the first Pentecost when Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11). Jesus confirmed this prophecy with the promise of the Holy Spirit to the disciples in John 14:26. He showed Himself to these men after His death on the cross and His resurrection, giving convincing proofs that He was alive. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit, from whom they would receive power to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:3-8). After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the men returned to Jerusalem and joined together in prayer in an upper room. On the Day of Pentecost, just as promised, the sound of a violent wind filled the house and tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were given the power of communication, which Peter used to begin the ministry for which Jesus had prepared him. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples did not stay in the room basking in God’s glory but burst out to tell the world. This was the beginning of the church as we know it. Today, in many Christian churches, Pentecost Sunday is celebrated to recognize the gift of the Holy Spirit, realizing that God’s very life, breath and energy live in believers. During this service, John 20:19-23 may be the core of the message about our risen Savior supernaturally appearing to the fear-laden disciples. Their fear gave way to joy when the Lord showed them His hands and side. He assured them peace and repeated the command given in Matthew 28:19-20, saying, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Then He breathed on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-23). The celebration of Pentecost Sunday reminds us of the reality that we all have the unifying Spirit that was poured out upon the first-century church in Acts 2:1-4. It is a reminder that we are co-heirs with Christ, to suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him; that the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7); that we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13); and that the Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead lives inside believers (Romans 8:9-11). This gift of the Holy Spirit that was promised and given to all believers on the first Pentecost is promised for you and your children and for all who are far off whom the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:39).


As I said earlier, Pentecost Sunday commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). We started that Sunday morning by looking at what John the Baptist said regarding the Messiah who would come right on the heels of his forerunner ministry. He said;


“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork [4425- “denotes ‘a winnowing shovel or fan,’ with which grain is thrown up against the wind, in order to separate the chaff; to separate, as the bad from the good”] is in his hand, and he will clear [1245- “to cleanse perfectly/thoroughly”] his threshing floor, gathering [4863- “to bring together, assemble, collect, to gather”] his wheat [4621- “wheat, corn, grain”] into the barn [596- “storehouse, granary”] and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire [see the Bible study Outer Darkness].”

(Matthew 3:11-12/NIV)


To winnow is to separate the bad from the good, freeing the undesirable chaff from the desirable grain held within. The winnowing process of every Christian is for the same reason. Remember, in the article above this sanctifying work of the Spirit is pictured in type by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The removal of yeast, all that is undesirable within us happens individually and corporately within the Body of Christ.

Winnowing occurs at harvest time. Spiritually speaking, it is at the appointed time or season of the Lord. This is occurring among the “first firstfruits” this very moment. The “contrary wind” of the devil, per the Lord’s approval, is separating the good from the bad within our midst in preparation of His return. Per what occurred at the beginning of the church, the final harvest of souls on earth is near and the workers are being made ready as Jesus’ first disciples were through the sifting of the devil (Luke 22:31-34).

One of the definitions for winnow in The Century Dictionary is, “to wave to and fro; to pursue or accomplish with a waving or flapping motion, as of wings.” Isn’t it interesting that the priests were required by God to wave the sheaf of firstfruits of wheat before the Lord so as to be accepted by Him. I believe this is a representation of the firstfruit disciples of the Lord that also must be waved before the Lord. They have been sifted by the Holy Spirit so as to be accepted in Christ who is the Head. The way of the Lord for others to partake is being revealed in this (see 1 Samuel 9:13 right below).


Blessing The Sacrifice


1 Samuel 9:13 Saul’s search for his father’s lost donkeys. See the note below.

13 "As soon as you enter the city you will find him before he goes up [5927- “to go up, to ascend, to climb up, to come up, to be taken up”] to the high place [1116- “an elevation, a high place, a height”] to eat, for the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless [1288- “to kneel (2 Chron. 6:13), bless, be blessed, curse (Job 1:5)”; see Luke 9:16-17, and 24:30-31 below] the sacrifice; afterward [see Mark 8:7] those who are invited [7121- “to call, to cry out, to proclaim, to announce, to summon, to be chosen”; see Matthew 22:1-13] will eat. Now therefore, go up [5927] for you will find him at once."

NASU


In this passage, Saul and his servant were looking for his father’s lost donkeys. One day, while meeting with a young Christian, we were reading this together and the Lord gave us an insight regarding the search for the lost “donkeys” of our Heavenly Father (i.e., the prodigals).

At one point, as they went further and further in their search away from Saul’s father, Saul said to his servant, “Come, let's go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.” (1 Samuel 9:5/NIV) Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:1-6, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven… A time to search and a time to give up as lost…” There is a time, known only by the Father, when we are to stop pursuing certain “donkeys” of our Father’s, and to return to Him lest we become lost ourselves. I believe this is why our Father becomes so concerned about us, as Saul’s father was with him.

The two would eventually make their way to a Divine appointment with Samuel who would anoint him to be the first king of Israel. Saul’s servant said to him, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let's go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.” He was referring to the prophet Samuel. In that time a prophet was called a seer. The eyes of the human body are what do the seeing for us. Without them we are blind, not able to see “what way to take.” In the Body of Christ, the prophetic voice functions in a similar manner. Without this we too can wander aimlessly, as Saul and His servant did, in our search for the Father’s lost donkeys that have strayed far from Him. Without the Lord’s leading, we can waste a lot of time and energy, aimlessly wandering in the flesh. Because He is the Way (John 14:6), He knows exactly where they are, both physically and spiritually, and if they’ll even turn back.


The Lord’s Choice Servants (1 Samuel 9:15-22)


Saul was looking for the lost donkeys, but, unknown to him, the Lord was leading him to the prophet who would anoint him to be king. He was the chosen one of the Lord that would, per the Israelites request, deliver them from the Philistines. The Lord had revealed to Samuel that the one who would rule over His people was coming to his city.

After meeting Samuel, he informed Saul that he would be eating together with him that day at the high place where a sacrifice would be offered. He also let him know that the donkeys which were lost had been found. He then shared something with Saul that reveals the type of person God often uses for His glory.

Samuel said to Saul, “And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father's family?” Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” Saul’s choosing as king by God is typical of the type of person that He selects. Throughout the Scriptures we read of God using the least likely person to do His greatest work.

In his first letter to the Christians in the city of Corinth, Paul said;


“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”

(1 Corinthians 1:26-29/NIV)


It seems that the less confidence you have in yourself and your abilities, the more likely it is that the Lord will use you to do great and mighty things for His name’s sake. If we can do something on our own, through our own strength, we will. Only those with no confidence in themselves will look to the Lord for his strength and wisdom, thereby ensuring that He gains the glory. Otherwise, man will take the credit.

Gideon said something very similar to what Saul said when he heard what the Lord’s will was for him. Once again, because of rebellion against Him, the enemies of Israel were allowed to oppress them. In their affliction, the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, letting him know that he was going to be used to deliver God’s people. His first words to Gideon were, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” (Judges 6:12) Valiant warrior! What God saw in Gideon was not exactly what he saw in himself.

In their conversation the Lord said to him, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?” Gideon then replied with a statement much the same as Saul’s, “But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord answered, “I will be with you [This is how! (Isaiah 7:14) It’s because of His strength. See the note on Deut. 21:15-17 in the Bible study They Will Be Mine regarding the strength of the firstborn.], and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” Other versions of the Bible say, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” (NASU/KJV/NKJV) As with Israel, it is only in the unity of the Spirit, not the flesh, that we are able to defeat the unseen enemies of the Lord.

Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” (Judges 6:14-18/NIV) When Gideon had brought out his sacrifice before the Lord, and set it upon a rock, the angel of the Lord touched it with His staff and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed it. This consuming fire is the baptism of the Lord that John the Baptist spoke of. He said;


“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Matthew 3:11/NIV)


The fire of the Lord is the ministry of the Holy Spirit that He uses to burn off the dross in our hearts, causing our living sacrifice to be accepted before the Lord. It prepares us, maturing us to be released into our calling with His blessing. There will be more moments of refining, but, like Gideon, the initial release must involve the required and accepted sacrifice of the Lord. Christ’ sacrifice of shedding His blood on the cross at Calvary is for the forgiveness of our sin, represented in John’s baptism. It is the beginning step. Then, it is the life long process of sanctification, of being shaped and molded through our daily submission to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit within us. It is the refiner’s fire that purifies our hearts so that we may present to the Lord the offering of our lives in righteousness (Malachi 3:2-4), an offering which is pleasing to Him (see the Bible study Well Pleased).

As with many other examples in the Bible, it is the willing, acceptable sacrifice before the Lord that releases the blessing of God’s favor on our lives. As with Saul and Samuel, the sacrifice must be blessed first by the Lord in order for us to go forward. Then, as we continue to walk in obedience with purity of heart, we will be ministering to others with His power and strength instead of our own.


The Seat Of Honor


Back in our passage in 1 Samuel 9, we read the following, “Then Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who were invited, who were about thirty men.” (1 Samuel 9:22) Saul, the one who thought little of himself, along with his servant, were then escorted by Samuel to the head of the table. It’s important to note that the two did not choose this place for themselves, but were granted this position by the one in charge. Jesus spoke on this very thing.

While eating at the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, who were watching Him closely to accuse Him of something, He healed a man with dropsy (i.e. the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water) and then gave them a parable regarding sitting at the places of honor;


“And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests [see Matthew 22:1-14] when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, “Give your place to this man,” and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last [2078- “farthest, lowest”] place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last [2078] place, so that when the one who has invited you comes [i.e., Jesus], he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher”; then you will have honor [1391- “honor, a most glorious condition, most exalted state, majesty, excellence, preeminence”] in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself [i.e., self-exaltation] will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”

(Luke 14:7-11/NASU)


In the kingdom of God, self-exaltation always results in demotion. Humility, on the other hand, in promotion. Jesus showed us that to serve is more honorable than to be served. He said to the disciples;


“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

(Matthew 20:25-28/NASU)


Greatness in the Lord’s kingdom is based upon a heart of servanthood.

In another time of teaching, using the scribes and Pharisees hypocrisy, Jesus once again taught His followers to not follow their bad example as those who did things to be noticed by others. Humility was not one of their best traits. He said;


“The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them… But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men… They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues…”

(Matthew 23:1-6/NASU)


The seat of Moses was a place of authority. In Jesus’ day, the teachers of the law, and the Pharisees were in a seat of authority similar to Moses when he served as judge for the people (Exodus 18:13). They were the interpreters and enforcers of the law. Jesus is saying that, even though what these self-appointed leaders are saying is true, do not put into practice what they do. These hypocrites, as Jesus called them, loved being in the seat of honor, and the respectful greetings out in the public among many other things, in order to be noticed. They should have been more concerned about being noticed by God. So, what about you and I, who are we truly desiring to be noticed by?


(See many more insights on this subject in the Bible study Seat Of Honor.)


The First Shall Be Last


Mark tells us of a time when Jesus had a certain discussion with His disciples concerning what it takes to be great in His eyes. The Bible says;


“They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last [2078- same Greek word that’s in Luke 14:9-10 above] of all and servant of all.’”

(Mark 9:33-35/NASU)


In the preceding verses, Jesus had told them that He was going to be killed. And here, soon afterwards, the twelve disciples were talking amongst themselves about who was the greatest!

But, before I’m a little too harsh with them, I have to take a good look at my own motives. In reality, they are us. So, the question I have to ask myself in my Christian walk is, “Am I seeking greatness before men, or humility before God?” May the Spirit of God reveal the true motive of all our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24).

In another dialogue Jesus had with His disciples regarding honor in the age to come, Peter said;


“‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.’”

(Matthew 19:27-30/NIV)


Again, Jesus is showing that the kingdom of God honors humility and sacrifice. Many who are currently “first” in the world will become “last” in the age to come (also see Matthew 20:1-16 and Mark 10:28-31).

I have often applied this to Israel’s rejection of Christ when He came the first time, which then resulted in the fullness of the Gentiles occurring first, before the Jews (Romans 11:17-25). Meaning, the Jewish people had first choice of making Jesus Lord on earth, but chose, as a whole, not to. But there is another way to look at this. In the kingdom of God, if you want to be first you must become last, choosing to walk in a place of humility before the Lord.



The following passage is from the Bible studies Be Perfect and Urim And Thummim;


Ezra 2:59-63See the note below, and the parallel passage in Nehemiah 7:61-65.

59 Now these are those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan and Immer, but they were not able to give evidence [5046- “to tell, explain, inform, to declare, to acknowledge”] of their fathers' households and their descendants [“seed”], whether they were of Israel:

60 the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 652.

61 Of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and he was called by their name.

62 These searched among their ancestral [3187] registration [3791- “a writing, a document, an edict”], but they could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean [1351- “to defile, to pollute, to desecrate, to stain”] and excluded from the priesthood.

63 The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most [6944] holy things [6944- “apartness, sacredness, holiness, holy/sacred place or thing, set-apartness; the word also describes things set aside for exclusive use by God's people (Isaiah 35:8)] until a priest stood up [5975- “to take one’s stand, stand still, to stand upright”] with Urim and Thummim [“lights and perfections”].

NASU

Ezra 2:62-63

62 These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.

63 The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim.

NIV

Ezra 2:62-63

62 These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but they were not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled.

63 And the governor said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim.

NKJV


OT:3187 yachas (yaw-khas')

(Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

a primitive root; to sprout; used only as denominative from OT:3188; to enroll by pedigree:

KJV - (number after, number throughout the) genealogy (to be reckoned), be reckoned by genealogies.

(Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)

(Hithpael) to reckon genealogically, to enroll in a genealogy, to enroll, to be enrolled


As the Israelites returned to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem, per the command of Cyrus, king of Persia (modern Iran), the priests and Levites had to give evidence (i.e., witness, testimony) of their father’s households and their descendants (seed), before being allowed in the priesthood of God’s people (v.59; see the Bible study Good Report Bad Report). If there was no record of their genealogy, they were to be considered, by definition, unclean/defiled/stained and were excluded from the priesthood. They could not serve, or minister before the Lord. Today, our names must be enrolled in heaven to be included in the spiritual priesthood in Christ (Hebrews 12:22-23). We too must bear witness, or give evidence that we are of our Father’s seed, who is Christ. It is in our Christ-likeness, by His Spirit that we will be written in the Lord’s book of genealogy (i.e., book of life).

In the beginning of Ezra, we read that Cyrus, king of Persia, sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, releasing the Jewish survivors to go back to Jerusalem in order to “rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:1-4) All those whose hearts had been stirred by the proclamation returned back to Jerusalem. (See the Bible study Back To Jerusalem.)

In his account of the same event, Nehemiah says that, after building the wall; “Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogies. Then I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up first…” (Nehemiah 7:5/NASU) Zerubbabel, whose name means “descended from Babylon/” or “sown in Babylon,” led this group of exiles who were first to return from Babylon back to Jerusalem. They were the firstfruit offering among the children of Israel who would prepare the way for others to return. (See the Bible study Wheat Disciples; Pentecost And Pentecost Sunday for more on this.)

There were some among them, though, that could not prove their ancestral genealogy. Among the priests were Habaiah (“Jehovah has hidden”), the sons of Hakkoz (“thorn”), the sons of Barzillai (“iron-hearted”), who took a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite (rocky region”). I believe the definitions of their names give us a clue of their hearts. They are a picture of those in the church whose hearts are hard as iron, and have been excluded from the book of life.

It’s also crucial to notice that “they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim.” This is one more example of something that must occur first before others can partake, or, in this case, to eat from “the most holy things,” or “the most sacred food.” (see the Bible study Urim And Thummim for more on what the Urim and Thummim is, and what it represents).



The Reserved Portion


1 Samuel 9:23-27See the note below.

23 Samuel said to the cook, "Bring the portion [4490- “something weighed out, a ration, a lot, a part”] that I gave you, concerning which I said to you, 'Set it aside [7760- “to put, to place, to set, to fix, to appoint”].'"

24 Then the cook took up the leg with what was on it and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, "Here is what has been reserved [7604- “to remain, to be left over, to be left behind, remnant”]! Set it before you and eat, because it has been kept [8104- “to keep, to guard, to preserve”] for you until the appointed time [4150- “appointed place of meeting, a sacred season, an appointed season”], since I said I have invited the people." So Saul ate with Samuel that day.

25 When they came down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the roof.

26 And they arose early; and at daybreak Samuel called to Saul on the roof, saying, "Get up, that I may send you away." So Saul arose, and both he and Samuel went out into the street.

27 As they were going down to the edge of the city, Samuel said to Saul, "Say to the servant that he might go ahead of us and pass on, but you remain standing now, that I may proclaim the word of God to you."

NASU

1 Samuel 9:26

26 And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring [5927- “to go up, ascend, to climb, offer up”] of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up [6965- “to arise, to rise up, to stand up”; see 1 Samuel 4:15 which interprets the same Hebrew word as “set”], that I may send thee away [7971- “to send, stretch forth, to let loose”]. And Saul arose [6965], and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad [2351- “outside, outward, street”].

KJV


Per the command of the Lord through His trusted servant, Samuel, Saul was told to rise up, to stand up [6965] and partake of that which had been “reserved” for him first (v.23-24), as a leader of God’s people, before the rest could eat and be satisfied (see Luke 9:12-17). God’s call is always an upward call, to come up (Philippians 3:13-14).

The purpose was to “send thee away,” which by definition is “loose” him, in order for the two to go out, “abroad.” As with Saul, in the “spring of the day,” at the dawning of a new day, a new thing in the “appointed time/season” of the Lord, He is declaring to His servants this day who have eyes to see (unlike Eli) and ears to hear, to rise up with the intent to loose us from any and all bondage (i.e., firstfruit disciples), so as to send us out in His name with His “best/choice wine” (see the Bible study Binding And Loosing). We will go out to the highways and byways, in His strength and power, compelling them to enter in.

I believe the best/choice wine saved for last in the wedding feast that Jesus and His disciples attended (John 2:1-11) is seen in type through the reserved portion for Saul that he ended up using for himself (self-glorification), “kicking” (see 1 Samuel 2:29) at what God gave him for those who were invited. It’s the Saul house of religion led by the flesh that currently runs the majority of the church in America. As with Saul, Eli, and even Samuel’s sons, their church “family” will suffer greatly, even perish, because of their misuse of the Lord’s authority that was entrusted to them.

I see the first public miracle of Jesus when He changed the water into “choice wine” at the wedding feast a picture of what will occur at the end of this age (see Isaiah 46:10). He has preserved “the best” for last, and will not allow man (i.e., Saul’s) to get ahold of it, reforming it back into something of his liking, according to his ways.

Like many ministers today, Saul misused the authority of God granted to him, and eventually had the kingdom torn from him. Tragically, so will they. He feared the people, listening to their voice instead of the Lord’s (1 Samuel 15:24-28). He/they are man-pleasers rather than God-pleasers.

Check out the note on 1 Samuel 2:29 in the Bible study Urim And Thummim. Eli made himself “fat” with the “choicest” [“firstfruits”] of every offering of the people given unto the Lord. He used the offering of the Lord for self-glorification, for his purposes rather than the Lord’s. Saul did the same thing, which Samuel warned the people about when they asked for a king, to be like the rest of the nations (1 Samuel 8:10-22).


The blessing of the sacrifice by Samuel appears to be similar to the firstfruit sheaf being waved by the priest before God so that the Israelites could partake of the produce from the harvest. As we saw within this Scripture, the “invited” ones (see Matthew 22:1-13) couldn’t partake of the meal until after the blessing was proclaimed over it. Remember, earlier we read that “The Israelites were not allowed to eat any of the crop until the day the first portion was brought before the priest. The firstfruits belonged to God, and the people of Israel acknowledged God as the source of their crops and their provision overall (Lev. 23:14)” (from the article “Question: ‘What was the Feast of Firstfruits?’” above). Is this also where the tradition of praying before we eat came from (Luke 24:30-31)?

In Webster’s Dictionary, some of the definitions for the word “bless” are; “to set apart or consecrate for holy purposes; to make and pronounce holy.” Blessedness is defined as “happiness; heavenly joys; the favor of God.” In regards to a Christian, I see the blessing on the sacrifice as a picture of the favor of God being pronounced over those of His children whose living sacrifice are pleasing to Him (see the Bible study Well Pleased). Like the disciples in the upper room who received the blessing of the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and then spread their joy of the Lord to others by the promised power they had received, those who have been “invited” to the wedding supper of the Lord cannot partake of it until the Lord’s “chosen” ones have been blessed by Him first.



From the article “What Does It Really Mean To Be Blessed?” by Vaneetha Rendall Risner (desiringgod.org):


“One translation of the New Testament (ESV) has 112 references with the words bless, blessing, or blessed, none of which connects blessing to material prosperity (see Matthew 5:3-4, 10-11; Luke 11:28; Romans 4:7 quoting Psalm 32:1; James 1:12; and revelation 14:13, 19:9). There is no hint of material prosperity or perfect circumstances in any New Testament reference. On the contrary, blessing is typically connected with either poverty and trial or the spiritual benefits of being joined by faith to Jesus.


According to the Key-Word Study Bible, “The Greek word translated blessed in these passages is makarioi which means to be fully satisfied. It refers to those receiving God’s favor, regardless of the circumstances.”


What is blessing then? Scripture shows that blessing is anything God gives that makes us fully satisfied in Him. Anything that draws us closer to Jesus. Anything that helps us relinquish the temporal and hold on more tightly to the eternal. And often it is the struggles and trials, the aching disappointments and the unfulfilled longings that best enable us to do that.”



Luke 9:12-17 The blessing of being broken in the hands of the Lord, is multiplication. We are called to give others “something to eat” after being broken and then filled with the Spirit. We cannot give what we do not possess. We cannot enlighten the eyes of others unless our eyes have first been truly enlightened. Otherwise, we are merely trying to coerce through persuasive words led by the flesh (1 Cor. 2:3-5).

The process of our being broken in the hands of the Lord is called sanctification (see the Bible study . It is with the intent of our being filled with Him, the Bread of Life. The [in]filling of the Lord’s chosen disciples is for the feeding of those who will come, so that they too will eat and be “satisfied,” which is to fulfill or satisfy mankind’s inner feeling of emptiness/hollowness.

It’s interesting to note that Jesus had the people sit down in groups of fifty (see Mark 6:40). The Greek for fifty is pentekonta ([4004] pen-tay'-kon-tah). Pentecost is [4005] pentekoste (pen-tay-kos-tay'), and means “fiftieth.”

12 Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, "Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place."

13 But He said to them, "You give them something to eat!" And they said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people."

14 (For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, "Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty [4004- pentekonta (pen-tay'-kon-tah) – “Fifty”] each." [Mark 6:40 says, “They sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties [4004].” Pentecost is [4005] pentekoste (pen-tay-kos-tay'), it means “fiftieth.”]

15 They did so, and had them all sit down.

16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed [2127- “to speak well of, to praise, to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers”] them, and broke [2622- “to break down, i.e., divide; to break in pieces”] them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people.

17 And they all ate and were satisfied [5526- “to fill or satisfy with food, to fulfill or satisfy the desire of anyone (Matthew 5:6)”]; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up [142- “to lift up, to raise up, to move from its place”], twelve baskets full.

NASU



The following quotes are found in the Bible study Consecration;


“…it was on Advent Sunday, December 2, 1873, that I first saw clearly the blessedness of true consecration. I saw it as a flash of electric light, and what you see, you can never unsee. There must be full surrender before there can be full blessedness. God admits you by the one into the other [“full surrender,” then, is the way of God’s “full” blessing (i.e., fullness) over the sacrifice of our lives, of receiving His stamp of approval/satisfaction in us] You know how I have been withheld from attending all conventions and conferences; man’s teaching has, consequently, had little to do with it… it was made clear to me that He who had thus cleansed me had power to keep me clean. So I just utterly yielded myself to Him, and utterly trusted Him to keep me.” (“Deeper Experiences Of Famous Christians” by James G. Lawson, p.211)


“…before He (the Holy Spirit) comes to live in a man, He must be given full possession of his body.” (“Reese Howells, Intercessor” by Norman Grubb, p.39- See notes in Bible study called Glorified.)


“Before there can be fullness there must be emptiness [see John 2:1-11]. Before God can fill us with Himself we must first be emptied of ourselves. It is this emptying that brings the painful disappointment and despair of self of which so many persons have complained just prior to their new and radiant experience.

There must come a total of self-disvaluation, a death to all things without us and within us, or there can never be real filling with the Holy Spirit.

(“Keys to the Deeper Life” by A. W. Tozer, p.49-50)



Luke 24:30-32See the note below.

30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed [2127- “to speak well of, to praise, to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers”] it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.

31 Then their eyes were opened [1272- “to open up completely, to open by dividing or drawing asunder”; see 2 Timothy 2:15 in KJV] and they recognized [1921- “to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know accurately, to acknowledge, to understand”] Him [see Acts 16:14]; and He vanished from their sight.

32 They said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?"

NASU


After His crucifixion, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village called Emmaus. On the way, Jesus joins them but prevented them from knowing it was Him. As they were discussing the events that had just occurred in Jerusalem in regards to His life and death, He began to share with them, through the Old Testament, why, per prophecy, this had to happen.

When they approached the village, He acted as though He was going farther. The Bible then says in verse 29, “But they urged Him, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.’ So He went in to stay with them.” In this very moment, at the end of this “day,” this age, the Lord is once again revealing Himself to his disciples, revealing through the Scriptures what must take place.

As He sat together with His disciples at the table, Jesus blessed the bread and then breaks it, into pieces. He began giving it to His disciples, “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.” To recognize is, by definition of the Greek, “to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know accurately, to acknowledge, to understand.” It is to have what Paul referred to as “enlightened eyes” (Ezra 9:8, Psalm 13:3, Ephesians 1:18). This occurs through our intimacy, our communion with the Bread of Life. The Father’s blessing on His life becomes our blessing that we then distribute to the “hungry” who, once received, become “satisfied,” full on the inside, so to speak.

The broken disciples are the loaf that he will give out to the world with. He is the Bread of Life that we give to others as we have received (Matthew 10:8, 2 Cor. 1:4). So, therefore, we cannot give out what we do not possess. Through those whose hearts have burned in their Lord’s presence as He explained the Scriptures to them, the eyes of many others will be opened and they will see Jesus. It is only as He blesses the sacrifice of our lives, a sacrifice that is pleasing to Him, that we then receive what we need to “feed” others.



John 2:1-11 At Jesus’ command, the six, emptied stone waterpots were filled (i.e., the “fullness”) with water first (water), before being changed into new wine (Spirit). Empty waterpots are a picture in type of emptied-of-self (i.e., sanctified) servants of the Lord. When the servants, like the disciples at Pentecost, did what Jesus said, the blessing of the Lord was revealed through the miraculous that was granted. Hearing and doing are key in this. His blessing becomes our blessing through obedience. Their blessing would then be poured out to those who would come afterwards. As seen in type through Samuel and Saul, the acceptable sacrifice had to be presented before God first before those who would come could also partake of the blessing (see the Bible study Acceptable Sacrifice).

Notice also that there were only six waterpots that would be used to fill/satisfy everyone that would come. The waterpots, though, held twenty or thirty gallons each. That could satisfy many people. This is another picture of the few feeding the many.

1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there;

2 and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.

3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."

4 And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come."

5 His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."

6 Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each.

7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." So they filled them up to the brim.

8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it to him.

9 When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom,

10 and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now."

11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

NASU


Deuteronomy 8:5-14Moses warns the children of Israel to be careful, after receiving His goodness, to not forget the Lord.

5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

6 Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and revering him.

7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land — a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills;

8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey;

9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied [7646- “to be satisfied, to be fulfilled, to be sated (glutted)”], praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.

12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied [7646], when you build fine houses and settle down,

13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,

14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

NIV



Maturity In Christ Brings In The Harvest


The mature grain “in the Head” (i.e., in Christ) must be made ready first through sifting in order to guarantee our partaking of the rest of the harvest crop. This is exactly what Christ taught in Mark 4:26-29 when He declared;


“The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows — how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

NASU


The two, the chaff and the grain (i.e., tares and wheat) will grow together until the end, at the appointed time of harvest when the crop has become mature in the Head, permitting the sickle to distinguish between the two, and gather it into the Lord’s storehouse.

In another parable presented to the disciples, Jesus referred to this last day gathering. He said;


“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

(Matthew 13:24-30/NASU)


We are now seeing this very thing in the fields of the Lord of the harvest. The two have had their roots become intertwined, causing God’s presence to be choked off in our midst. There must be a separation from one another, which we are now witnessing within the church. We meet Christians that tell us that they do not fit within any church group. They’re searching for a place to fit in. Unfortunately, most do not understand at this point why. It’s of God because it’s the appointed time in history when the proclamation is going forth that He is preparing the grain and the earth for His harvest, and His return (Psalm 65:9). This is why the devil has created false teachings to keep us from maturing (Ephesians 4:11-16). Our fullness in Christ, the Head, will mean the end of his wicked reign on earth.

This is why the Lord said to Peter, “when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” After Peter’s heart-chaff process of maturing in the Lord had sifted out his prideful spirit that denied Jesus as his Lord (i.e., spirit of antichrist), he would be in a prepared place to have the Holy Spirit poured out into him. In this purified state of becoming a firstfruit, wheat disciple who was led by the Spirit rather than his flesh, he could then strengthen his brothers with the wisdom he had gained through the process, in Christ.

The contrary winds that are blowing at this very moment against the disciples who are obediently headed to the desired place of their Lord’s choosing are for their maturity. Afterwards, these sanctified, chosen heads of grain will then bring His life through a demonstration of the Spirit and of power to the world in the final thrust on earth before the day of the Lord’s wrath (see the Bible study Contrary Winds).



A New Thing (Lev. 23:16); Gathering Together The Firsfruit Sheaf Of Wheat


In the book of Acts, we are given an insight into what will occur at the end of this age. Again, according to the word of God, we’ll know the end from the beginning, and from ancient times what is yet to come (Isaiah 46:10). I believe, therefore, that by examining what occurred at the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, we’ll understand what will happen at the end of this age, in the final outpouring.

After His crucifixion, and before His ascension, Jesus had given His disciples specific instructions on what to do next;


“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’”

(Acts 1:4-5/NASU)


John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin (Luke 3:3). The water was a symbol of the inner cleansing that occurs when we confess our sins and are forgiven (1 John 1:9). This baptism prepares us for what is next; the baptism of the Spirit with fire (i.e., fiery trials). It is through both that we are allowed to enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5-6).

For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, Jesus’ gathering together of His disciples outside of the corrupt religious system in His day on earth is happening right now, again. The worship of God at that time had become nothing more than unacceptable, useless rituals led by the will of man. It had become so bad that when the very God they supposedly worshipped stood before them, they were unable to recognize Him, and, in fact, killed Him.

In Acts, chapter two, we are given the account of the prophesied outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those who were gathered together in the upper room. In the beginning of this momentous event, we read that, “When the day of Pentecost had come [4845- “to fill completely, be fulfilled”], they were all together [3674- “with one accord, at the same place or time”] in one place.” (v.1) This gathering as “one” can only be by the Spirit of God, not in the name of a denomination or personality.

By obediently remaining in the place of God’s choosing, the promise was birthed within His disciples; “And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:2/NASU) It was at this place, outside of the religious structure of that day, that the Holy Spirit was poured out on a gathered sheaf of “nobodies” who would be used to change the world. In our nation in particular, it will happen again.

The proclamation of the Lord is going forth at this appointed time. There will be a new thing, a new grain offering of sifted disciples that will be used to do great and mighty things, one last time before the return of Jesus. As with Israel, those among God’s people who were, at one time, given eyes to see and ears to hear, will no longer see or hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. Through continued rebellion against His lordship over them, apathy has now overtaken them. Because they did not receive the love of the truth, preparing their hearts by faith at the end of this age per the instructions of the Holy Spirit so as to be saved, God has sent a deluding influence upon them that causes them to believe what is false (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).



The Last Day Preparation Of The Firstborn/Firstfruit Sons And Daughters


The firstborn/firstfruits among the brothers given to the Lord were the Levites in the O.T. (Numbers 3:11-13, 44-45, 8:13-19). They are Jesus and the brethren in the N.T. (Romans 8:29). In the last days when Christ returns for His firstborn bride, first, they will be those whose names are written in the “book of remembrance.” They fear the Lord and esteem His name and have willingly submitted to the preparation of the Holy Spirit, preparing them to be known as the Lord’s own possession (Malachi 3:16-18), sparing them from His wrath at the end of this age. (See the Bible study They Will Be Mine for much more.)



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