Harvest themes run throughout the Scriptures. In Leviticus 25, we read about the requirements of the jubilee observance (NIV):
11 "The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines.12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields."
In a previous post, we discussed the seven Festivals of the annual cycle. If the first three and last three Festivals are grouped together, we have three annual major observances which correlate with the three major agricultural harvests of the ancient world:
Passover (incorporating Unleavened Bread and First Fruits) = barley harvest
Pentecost (Shavuot or Festival of Weeks) = wheat harvest
Tabernacles (incorporating Trumpets and Atonement) = grape harvest.
Each individual harvest would arrive in three stages: first fruits, main harvest, and gleanings. For example, in the book of Ruth chapter 2 we read (NIV):
"Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.
2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.
4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”
As mentioned in a previous post, the entire book of Ruth is a prophetic picture of the relationship between Israel, the Church, and Jesus Christ. Naomi represents Israel, Ruth the Church, and Boaz represents Jesus Christ. The wheat and grape harvests are of particular importance when considering the events of the Final Jubilee.
During the jubilee observance, the fields were not to be harvested. The main harvest would occur immediately before the beginning of the jubilee, and then be completed immediately after. Therefore, we would expect that the main wheat harvest (representing the Church) would occur immediately before the Final Jubilee, and the gleanings occur after. Failing to understand this agricultural analogy has lead to much misunderstanding regarding the removal of the Church prior to the events of Daniel's 70th week (as detailed in the Apostle John's Revelation). For example, in Revelation chapter 6 (after the door in heaven of chapter 4 is opened), we read about the suffering of believers in Jesus Christ during the Tribulation period (NIV):
9 "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.10 They called out in a loud voice, 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?'11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been."
These individuals are the Tribulation Saints, who suffer and die at the hands of the antichrist during Daniel's 70th week. They are also the gleanings of the wheat harvest, whose resurrection and transformation will occur at the conclusion of the Final Jubilee. Failing to understand the staged nature of the Church's resurrection has caused some to deny the reality of the main harvest prior to Daniel's 70th week. In a previous post, we referenced the prophet Joel to introduce the celestial signs which would precede the Day of the Lord. Returning to Joel 2, we read (NIV):
"Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
gather the children,
those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, 'Spare your people, Lord.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
We see here the picture of a "sacred assembly" gathered at the blowing of the trumpet. It is a cross section of the population, including the "elders" and children. It also includes wedding language, with the bridegroom leaving his room to meet his bride. It is an amazingly complete picture of the gathering of the Body of Christ, the Church. The elders appear again in Revelation 5 (NIV):
"Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?' 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.'
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.'"
As mentioned previously, John's vision occurs after a door opens in chapter 4, and he is taken up to witness these events. The elders are the collective Body of Christ, who have been purchased by Jesus Christ. Jesus alone may then open the seven-sealed scroll, which is the Title Deed of the Earth. The Earth will then be taken back from the usurper (Satan) during the Final Jubilee, which is the Tribulation, and Daniel's 70th week. This is a picture of the main harvest of the Church before Daniel's 70th week begins.
Interestingly, Joel goes on to describe the nation of Israel's response to the disappearance of the Church, who weep saying "Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations." In their rejection of Jesus, and their failure to follow the spirit of YHWH's Law and Festivals, the Hebrews will pass through the fire of the Tribulation to emerge refined and ready to enter the millennial reign of Christ. The jubilee observance was to involve not only a pause in agricultural activity, but an economic reset and liberation of indentured servants. We will turn to this economic aspect next time.