Feast Days: An Examination of the Sermon on the Mount and the Monthly Sabbaths
All EGW quotations are from chapter 31 of The Desire of Ages
ACTIONS, NOT THEOLOGY
Agreeing with the truth is not righteousness, faith that results in actions is righteousness.
Mat 21:28 But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
Mat 21:29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
Mat 21:30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Mat 21:31 Whether of them two did the will of his father? They say to him, The first.
Mat 25:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats:
Mat 25:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Mat 25:35 For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:
Mat 25:36 Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.
Mat 25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink?
Mat 25:38 When saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you?
Mat 25:39 Or when saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you?
Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Mat 25:42 For I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink:
Mat 25:43 I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not.
Mat 25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?
Mat 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.
Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
“The greatest deception of the human mind in Christs day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the fruits of righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth often accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life.”
“The same danger still exists. Many take it for granted that they are Christians, simply because they subscribe to certain theological tenets. But they have not brought the truth into practical life” – EGW
How do you bring the truth into practical life? What did Jesus teach?
The longest recorded sermon Jesus ever taught, the Sermon on the Mount described in Matthew 5-7 and paralleled more succinctly in Luke 6:17-49, presents the clearest description of the character of God.
“Without combating their ideas of the kingdom of God, He told them the conditions of entrance therein, leaving them to draw their own conclusions as to its nature. The truths He taught are no less important to us than to the multitude that followed Him. We no less than they need to learn the foundation principles of the kingdom of God.” – EGW
REALIZING OUR SPIRITUAL NEED/YIELDING TO GOD
Mat 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
“Real sorrow for sin is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals the ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and brings us in contrition to the foot of the cross. By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh; and as we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him. Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin.” – EGW
Before the son of God died on a cross, this lesson was taught by the slaying of animals right from the garden of Eden:
Gen 3:21 To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
Gen 4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect to Abel and to his offering
This painful act of killing a perfect innocent is an essential part of salvation. More detail is given in Genesis 22:
Gen 22:2 And he said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.
Gen 22:10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
Gen 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called to him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
Gen 22:12 And he said, Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.
In the story the was the death of Christ foreshadowed with the anguish of God explored. It is also shown that willingness to fully submit to God is the critical lesson, the action itself (slaying of Issac) was not important:
Gen 22:16 And said, By myself have I sworn, said the LORD, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son:
Gen 22:17 That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is on the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
The willingness to withhold nothing from God is what God asks before he can supply us with blessings.
This identical lesson was taught in Passover. Before God would free His people, he wanted to teach them about Christ’s sacrifice. He did this by telling them at the beginning of the year to bring a perfect lamb into their house:
Exo 12:2 This month shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
Exo 12:3 Speak you to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
After 3 days had passed and the family was starting to get attached to the lamb, they were to kill it and put its blood on their door:
Exo 12:6 And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
Exo 12:7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
This lesson mirrors Christ death on the cross in countless ways and includes an admonition that when Christ’s death has been accepted, you immediately leave with haste the sinful land of Egypt:
Exo 12:11 And thus shall you eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’s passover.
Remembrance of these events along with similar parallels in the Bible culminate with the description of the death of the Son of God in the gospels. Passover along with all of these events should be used to memorialize the horror of sin and death commemorating what God did to save us.
Exo 12:14 And this day shall be to you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
The purpose of this mourning and sorrow must be tied to the knowledge of God’s sacrifice for us and the acknowledgement that it is our sin that causes this suffering.
“By these words Christ does not teach that mourning in itself has power to remove the guilt of sin. He gives no sanction to pretense or to voluntary humility. When brought into trial, we are not to fret and complain. We should not rebel, or worry ourselves out of the hand of Christ. We are to humble the soul before God.” – EGW
Today we are called to observe God’s character and actions through certain events. This is taught by a parallel feast to Passover held in the fall known as the feast of trumpets. Trumpets call us to witness the actions of God, actions that we take today such as reading the Bible and witnessing God’s law:
Exo 19:1 (God speaking the 10 Commandments) “When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.”
Exo 19:19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.
Exo 20:18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off.
1Ch 16:6 Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God.
2Ch 13:14 And when Judah looked around, to their surprise the battle line was at both front and rear; and they cried out to the LORD, and the priests sounded the trumpets.
Mat 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
God asks us to afflict our souls in sorrow for sin also in the yearly observance of the day of atonement:
Leviticus 23:26 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 27 Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.
The physical act of keeping this yearly observance of itself is not an action that brings salvation, but its central purpose, bringing humility and sorrow, is essential for salvation before we are able to connect to God.
“The proud heart strives to earn salvation; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isa. 57:15.” – EGW
The subject of atonement is one of the most critical concepts in the Bible. Atonement is the action of God that He takes when we ask for repentance of sin. Only through atonement are we saved, or given eternal life by God. The entire purpose of the tabernacle, the central theme of all the prophets, and the purpose of Jesus coming to this earth was to bring atonement to us.
The book of Isaiah gives the most comprehensive descriptions of what atonement actually is. This passage gives a description of the real problem, the action taken, and the result:
(Isa 6:5-7) So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, H5493 And your sin purged.” (H3722 kaw-far’)
In this verse atonement translated as “purged” is placed in parallel with the earlier statement that “your iniquity is taken away.” The Hebrew word for taken away is H5493, soor soor which means literally to “turn off, decline, depart, eschew, get [you], go (aside), X grievous, lay away (by), leave undone, be past, pluck away, put (away, down), rebel, remove (to and fro), revolt, X be sour, take (away, off), turn (aside, away, in), withdraw, be without.”
Considering that God is life and sin is death, it makes sense that the purpose of atonement is the purging or removal of sin from us. When sin is within us, God’s presence is a consuming fire.
“The worldling may pronounce this sorrow a weakness; but it is the strength which binds the penitent to the Infinite One with links that cannot be broken. It shows that the angels of God are bringing back to the soul the graces that were lost through hardness of heart and transgression. The tears of the penitent are only the raindrops that precede the sunshine of holiness. This sorrow heralds a joy which will be a living fountain in the soul. “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God;” “and I will not cause Mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord.” Jer. 3:13, 12. “Unto them that mourn in Zion,” He has appointed to give “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isa. 61:3.” – EGW
The day of atonement reminds us that God cannot remove sin from us without action on our part, and this Sabbath remembrance teaches us the necessity of our actions to do our part in God’s plan of redemption. The work that we are called to do is to completely humble ourselves before God, and to fast and afflict our souls to give God the opportunity to cleanse us from any remaining taint of sin. Just as the Day of Atonement is a deadline, we all face a deadline at the uncertain date representing the end of our life.
LIVING ON GOD’S FOOD AND WATER
Mat 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Mat 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
A one-time sorrow for sin does not transform the life unless it is followed by a life dedicated to righteousness, reform, yielding to the Holy Spirit, and the desire to remove sin. This dedication comes with the promise of success:
“The sense of unworthiness will lead the heart to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and this desire will not be disappointed. Those who make room in their hearts for Jesus will realize His love. All who long to bear the likeness of the character of God shall be satisfied. The Holy Spirit never leaves unassisted the soul who is looking unto Jesus. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them unto him. If the eye is kept fixed on Christ, the work of the Spirit ceases not until the soul is conformed to His image. The pure element of love will expand the soul, giving it a capacity for higher attainments, for increased knowledge of heavenly things, so that it will not rest short of the fullness. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” – EGW
Righteousness is essential. Jesus commands us to cut off sin from our lives in practical matters:
Mat 5:27 You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery:
Mat 5:28 But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Mat 5:29 And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.
Mat 5:30 And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.
THIS TRANSFORMATION TAKES TIME
Jesus traveled for 40 days in the wilderness with only God to sustain Him after His baptism, and the children of Israel were led for 40 years into the wilderness with only God to provide their food and drink after the events of Passover.
In the same way God requires a period of time of dedication and focus upon Him while depriving ourselves of sinful elements of the world. Only in this way will our characters be transformed and we become righteous, obtain mercy, be pure in heart, and see God.
In the Old Testament times, this process was taught by analogy through actions that were to take place once a year. Immediately following Passover and the sorrow for sin, we are to keep 2 Sabbath rest days and entire week of removing yeast (representing sin) from every part of our lives while we live on unleavened bread:
(Exodus 13:6-10) Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.
Just as unleavened bread follows passover, It’s important that removal of sin is done with the help of the Holy Spirit only following a surrender to God and sorrow for sin. Removing sin without filling your life with God is always going to end up in failure:
(Mat 12:43-45) “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
Unleavened bread is also represented as the food of angels:
(Genesis 19:1-3) Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.”
But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
(Judges 6:19-21) So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. Then the Angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.
The New Testament shows that this bread is Jesus:
Luk 22:19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Joh 6:35 And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.
Joh 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Joh 6:57 As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me.
Joh 6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live for ever.
This bread is also the words of Jesus:
Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
“The sense of unworthiness will lead the heart to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and this desire will not be disappointed. Those who make room in their hearts for Jesus will realize His love. All who long to bear the likeness of the character of God shall be satisfied.” – EGW
Trying to live on the bread of life mixed with leavening (sin) is the mistake that many Christians make, and that this teaching of unleavened bread is a yearly reminder that we must purify ourselves regularly and shun the leavened bread of sin.
“Every impure thought defiles the soul, impairs the moral sense, and tends to obliterate the impressions of the Holy Spirit. It dims the spiritual vision, so that men cannot behold God. The Lord may and does forgive the repenting sinner; but though forgiven, the soul is marred. All impurity of speech or of thought must be shunned by him who would have clear discernment of spiritual truth.” – EGW
Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
A parallel event in the fall is the feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering. This week long event emphasizes dwelling with God and sharing God’s blessings with others:
(Deu 16:13-17) “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress…Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.”
This gift of sharing the extra that God gives us above our needs (when everything is gathered in from the fields at the end of the year) is something commanded by both the Old Testament and New Testament.
(Luk 14:12-14) Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
The parable of Jesus in Luke 16:19-31 also shows this. To a casual reader, the sin of the rich man is not obvious except in the context of this feast. All the clues are given, the rich man is clothed well and eats well every single day. Lazarus is a poor beggar desiring to be fed from the crumbs from the rich man’s table, but obviously receives nothing. Lazarus lives at the gate of the rich man so therefore is a close neighbor. The parable explicitly says that during his lifetime, Lazarus received evil things, obviously not sharing in the blessing of the rich man as commanded by this feast. The final command in the parable is that “if they do not hear Moses and the prophets” – yet another reference saying that the rich man is violating that which Moses and the prophets commended.
1 Samuel 25 describes an event which does not make sense outside the context of the feast of Tabernacles, and explicitly references that this event is taking place on a feast day. David with a large group of armed men is camping nearby a very rich rancher, and not only prevents his men from stealing anything from this rancher but actively protects his land and property. When the feast of Tabernacles arrives, and the direction of the Law of Moses is to share in the newly gathered wealth gained during that year, David does not show up as a neighbor with all of his men looking for a handout, he sends only a small group of 10 with the following message:
(1Sa 25:6-8) And thus you shall say to him who lives in prosperity: ‘Peace be to you, peace to your house, and peace to all that you have! Now I have heard that you have shearers. Your shepherds were with us, and we did not hurt them, nor was there anything missing from them all the while they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever comes to your hand to your servants and to your son David.’ “
Nabel rejects his message, shows himself as someone who does not follow the feast and spurns the unsolicited protection that David’s men had been giving them throughout the year. This is the reason why David became so furious and Abigail decided to bring a large amount of food to give to David.
“Jesus had shown in what righteousness consists, and had pointed to God as its source. Now He turned to practical duties. In almsgiving(feast of ingathering), in prayer(day of atonement), in fasting(day of atonement), He said, let nothing be done to attract attention or win praise to self. Give in sincerity, for the benefit of the suffering poor. In prayer, let the soul commune with God. In fasting, go not with the head bowed down, and heart filled with thoughts of self. The heart of the Pharisee is a barren and profitless soil, in which no seeds of divine life can flourish. It is he who yields himself most unreservedly to God that will render Him the most acceptable service. For through fellowship with God men become workers together with Him in presenting His character in humanity.” – EGW
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
The word of God is planted in our lives, and we grow starting with regret and sorrow for sin (Passover) followed by a time spent for growth with obstacles of thorns and stones of sin removed from life with God’s help. (Unleavened Bread) Christ’s parable of the sower describes this entire process in a single illustration and also gives us the final stage of bearing fruit:
(Mat 4:14-20) The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
In the middle of the passover week after passover and the first sabbath of unleavened bread are observed, is the feast of firstfruits. Firstfruits is contained in the middle of two unleavened bread Sabbath days, a message that the harvest does not exist without preparation.
Leviticus 23:9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.
The fruits of the spirit are conditional. Just like Passover and unleavened bread, crucifixion of the flesh (passover) and living and walking with the spirit (unleavened bread) come first. Paul identifies these things and then describes more fully what the fruits actually are:
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Gal 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
“Sinful men can become righteous only as they have faith in God and maintain a vital connection with Him. Then true godliness will elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life. Then the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity. Then the ceremonies required in the service of God are not meaningless rites, like those of the hypocritical Pharisees.” – EGW
The main purpose in observing the firstfruits feast is to have us recognize that the initial, first return of life that you receive, from firstborn sons, to firstborn animals, to first grown crops belong to God. This recognizes that all life originates from God and not ourselves.
God gave His Firstborn Son to us, and we acknowledge and remember this by dedicating the first of what we have to God. It is with this action we declare our allegiance to God. Tithing as a principal is simply another name for firstfruits:
2Ch 31:5 And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the first fruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.
Deu 14:23 And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
Exo 13:13 … all the firstborn of man among your children shall you redeem.
In the kingdom to come we will continue to bring our first fruits to God:
Isa 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
Isa 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Eze 20:40 For in my holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, said the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the first fruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.
In God’s kingdom we also follow new moon festivals:
Isa 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
Isa 66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
God’s kingdom also keeps the feast of Tabernacles:
Zec 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
Zec 14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
We bring the first of everything to God to give our allegiance to Him:
Neh 10:37 And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
Eze 44:30 And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest’s: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house.
The entire book of Ruth is an exploration of the subject of firstfruits. Every event takes place during the early barley harvest, and symbolically Ruth is personally at the point in her life with God where she is ready for the blessings of firstfruits. She has lost her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law. As represented by the sacrifice of Passover, she has given up her own family, her people, her gods, and committed all to following God’s people. She and her mother-in-law left everything they had in Moab and traveled a great journey in poverty, as represented by unleavened bread. She enters the land of Israel exactly when the feast of firstfruits is taking place.
The bread of firstfruits is multiplied by God and returned to us with excess:
(2Ki 4:42-44) And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give to the people, that they may eat. And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus said the LORD, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the LORD.
Jesus repeated this event of Elisha and use it teach that the Passover/unleavened bread feasts represent this simple idea: we bring our insufficient and minor offering to God, and God returns a great harvest. Just as the harvest doesn’t exist when there are stones and thorns in the life, neither does God give us a harvest from nothing. He always starts with what we bring.
In this way Jesus physically demonstrated the promise given in Deuteronomy to set the firstfruits before God to receive God’s blessing:
Deu 26:10 And now, behold, I have brought the first fruits of the land, which you, O LORD, have given me. And you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God:
Deu 26:11 And you shall rejoice in every good thing which the LORD your God has given to you, and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.
Joh 6:4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.
Joh 6:5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come to him, he said to Philip, From where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
Joh 6:6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
Joh 6:7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
Joh 6:8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,
Joh 6:9 There is a lad here, which has five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
Joh 6:10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
Joh 6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
Joh 6:12 When they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
Joh 6:13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.
“All who choose Christ’s kingdom of love and righteousness and peace, making its interest paramount to all other, are linked to the world above, and every blessing needed for this life is theirs. In the book of God’s providence, the volume of life, we are each given a page. That page contains every particular of our history; even the hairs of the head are numbered. God’s children are never absent from His mind.” – EGW
The pattern is established as the early blessing of the barley harvest, followed 7 weeks later (50 days) by the much larger wheat harvest. The barley harvest is unleavened bread (flour mixed with oil), the wheat harvest is leavened bread (flour with leaven baked into loaves):
Lev 23:10 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest
Lev 23:13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD for a sweet smell:
Lev 23:16 Even to the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering to the LORD.
Lev 23:17 You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the first fruits to the LORD.
The first fruits are Christ (pure, no sin ie: leaven), the church is Pentecost (with sin, but still dedicated to God:
1Co 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
1Co 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Christ rose from the dead on the day after the Sabbath, firstfruits was dedicated on the day after the Sabbath:
Lev 23:10 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest:
Lev 23:11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
Just as Christ’s death foretold by Passover was completed on the actual day of Passover, and raised on the actual day of first fruits, God’s work of founding the church through ordinary men who had sinned, in a much larger harvest was started on the actual day of Pentecost:
(Death on Passover)
Joh 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father
Joh 18:39 But you have a custom, that I should release to you one at the passover: will you therefore that I release to you the King of the Jews?
Joh 19:14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he said to the Jews, Behold your King!
Heb 11:28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
(Resurrection on the first day, day after the Sabbath)
Mar 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.
Mar 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Luk 24:1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
Joh 20:1 The first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, to the sepulcher, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulcher.
(Church started at Pentecost)
Act 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Act 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Act 2:3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.
Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
All of the great national reformations in the days of Hezekiah, (2 Chronicles 30) Josiah, (2 Chronicles 34-35) and in the days of after the Babylonian exile (Ezra 3,6, & Nehemiah 8) resulted in the nation starting to keep the feast days again:
2Ch 30:1 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel.
2Ch 30:2 For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month.
2Ch 34:31 And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.
2Ch 34:32 And he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.
2Ch 34:33 And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the LORD their God. And all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.
2Ch 35:1 Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.
(Ezra and Nehemiah-Passover and unleavened bread)
Ezr 3:5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.
Ezr 6:19 And the children of the captivity kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.
Ezr 6:20 For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brothers the priests, and for themselves.
Ezr 6:22 And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
Neh 8:14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month:
Neh 8:15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth to the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.
Neh 8:16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one on the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim.
Neh 8:17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.
Neh 8:18 Also day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according to the manner.
(Pentecost observed by Paul while teaching)
1Co 16:7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.
1Co 16:8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
Act 18:19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
Act 18:20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
Act 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
“The good tree will produce good fruit. If the fruit is unpalatable and worthless, the tree is evil. So the fruit borne in the life testifies as to the condition of the heart and the excellence of the character. Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an evidence of the faith that acts by love and purifies the soul.” – EGW