Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thorns are for Thrones

By Jack Davis

Genesis 3:17-18, “…cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee…”

Thorns seem to have different applications in Scripture. We realize that God had some reasons for allowing them. They are here spoken of as the future product of the fallen creation. The fruit of sin is always the cause of suffering and pain. All that the old creation can produce contains ugliness and uselessness.

Hebrews 6:7,9 – “For the earth that drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God…But beloved we are persuaded better things of you, and the things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” The better things come to and out of a new creation. Then by contrast in verse 8 we read of that which pertains to the old creation, “That which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing: whose end is to be burned.” He is here speaking of rejectors that finally become the rejected, in symbolic terms.

THE OLD CREATION DETHRONED: Matthew 7:16,19, “…Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?…Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” This was done provisionally at Calvary, and yet the root of our fallen nature remains. We are left with something to overcome, which must be judged, reckoned or counted dead. It eventually becomes evident whether we have been living after the dictates of the old or the new life. “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

God had promised to drive the nations in the land of Canaan out before Israel. “BEFORE YOU!” When you march forward in God’s will you will win! “Forward still! ‘Tis Jehovah’s will!” He promises to bruise Satan beneath the saints feet. He uses our feet as we walk by faith and not by sight. Many years later remnants of those nations still were there in the land. Israel had not gone forward completely in all the will of God. Yet God used those Canaanites to prove and correct Israel, teaching them their need to be completely dependent upon God. So He told them that those “Ites” that remained would be THORNS in their sides. We may see these old creation characteristics that were not taken out root and branch when we were initially saved. Now as the old creation traits rise up in us, if we allow them to go completely unjudged, they will cause us much discomfort, sorrow and pain.

JESUS and THORNS: “And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, BEHOLD THE MAN!” John 19:2-5. Oh! How we praise Jesus Who took willingly the blame, the pain, the sorrow and the suffering caused by the fallen old creation. He felt the nails pierce His hands and feet and afterward a spear pierced His side. Yet the worst suffering came from the anguish that broke His heart.

Their crowning in mockery was so humiliating and hurt deeply. Yet we read, He went forth “wearing the crown of thorns.” We wonder how little man could be so proud and never be thankful, when we consider the pain that our sin has caused our dear Lord. Read Isaiah 53:2-6, and pour contempt on all our pride.

Pilate said, “I FIND NO FAULT IN HIM!” The faultless, Holy Son of God was there dying for a faulty, guilt ridden world that was so unworthy of Him. We had no right to the least of His favor, His presence, or even His thought. But, praise God, our dear Lord wore those thorns on the way to the throne.

Song of Solomon 2:1-3, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons…”. There are fruit trees and trees of wood; there are lilies and thorns but Jesus was unique. What a vast difference between Him and those for whom He was dying. Oh what a difference He is making in His beloved as she is being transformed into His likeness. The darkest, most trying experience not only serves to prove us, but improve us, pointing out the difference. Often the true beauty of a thing is enhanced by its surroundings. Jesus spoke of us being in the world but not of it. In Hebrews 11:38 the Apostle Paul wrote of those “of whom the world was not worthy.” Stick with the world and you will get stuck. But God can use our surroundings to make us something special, outstanding even in that heavenly eternal state. HE DID IT WITH PAUL!

Let us consider some other applications to the ministry and message of thorns. II Cor. 12:7-10, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Paul spoke of His own personal thorn as a gift, a messenger, and a buffer. Thorns for us can be bothersome buffers used by God to dethrone the flesh and enthrone Jesus Christ in our lives. They may teach us of failures, shortcomings, insufficiencies, inadequacies used by God to cause us to be more dependent upon Him, and encourage us to look to Him for His full supply. These things should draw us to the throne of grace, and prepare us for a throne of glory.

A thorn may puncture our pride in preparation for promotions as a part of our training for reigning. God allows us humiliations for our exaltation, and vexations for our elevation. That we may find a fivefold layer of all-sufficient grace, we find in verse 10 five varieties of thorns. In these we see limitations, humiliations, privations, vexations, and irritations.

In every trying situation, in all my need, God is seeking me because He wants to be my full supply. God wants us aware of our need so we will take hold of His supply. In it all He is saying, “Seek Me! Seek Me!” He says, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

Realization of this truth should make a great difference in our attitude. Our attitude makes a difference in the benefit we get from these difficulties. God would have us realize that these are a part of His process for our progress, His provision for our perfection. Such realization should bring appreciation. Only with Paul’s perspective can we enjoy such thorns. Or take delight from them. Paul said, “most gladly will I glory,” “I take pleasure in.” Peter said, concerning the fiery trial, “rejoice and be glad.” James said, concerning the  different trying situations, “count it all joy.” The Apostle Paul also said, “In every thing give thanks.”

Paul’s approach to the throne of grace was answered. He needed the thorn that God had faithfully supplied, As well as the grace that proved sufficient to endure it. He proved in daily experience the all-sufficiency of God’s grace, and could say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Thank God for our limitations!

A word of warning–occupy yourself with Him in it all. Even though we have lamentable limits, undue occupation with them could bring us into constant lamentations instead of appreciation of our Lord’s abundant supply. Our heavenly Father often seems to await man’s extremity to take His opportunity.

Infirmities are weaknesses and speak of the inability to produce results. These should call us to the throne of grace to draw on His supernatural power. Reproaches are insults that can be used to prepare us for blessed crown of honor. Necessities speak of the hardships or needy circumstances, not being able to have what others are able to do or have. Herein we come to realize our Lord’s abundant supply. Persecutions tell us of being persuade, or caused to flee. In these we are brought to a place of refuge, a place of rest, a place to faithfully stand. Distressed could also be translated straights, narrowness, a tight place, pressed in on every side. Real limitations can be used by God to urge us to use our spiritual wings, enjoying our great expanse of immeasurable freedom and unsearchable riches to rise and reign.

by Anita Clark

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall no more be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.” Ezekiel 37:21-22

God allowed Israel to be taken captive by Gentile nations because of their idolatry and other wickedness; first the ten tribes taken by Assyria, and then years later the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin taken captive into Babylon. Some of them filtered back into the land when Cyrus King of Persia allowed them to return, however many of them had settled down in the lands of their captivity and were content to remain there. Years and years passed, and finally after World War Two, the Jews were allowed to come to Palestine as it was called. The rest is history. The prophecies have been fulfilled so far up until today, however there are many more to be fulfilled.

Very soon the prophecy of the end time pertaining to the covenant made between Israel and the nations will be fulfilled, for just as sure as the other prophecies have come to pass, all of them will be fulfilled. We are waiting eagerly to see if these present peace talks will produce fruit or not. The one big thing that Israel demands is that the other side agree to recognize them as a Jewish state. Because a large number of Palestinians live in Israel, Mahmoud Abbas refuses to do this. He doesn’t want any Palestinians to have to leave Israel, rather for them to stay there and multiply their number until they can take over the democratic state. Israelis are not producing many children, so the demographics will change, and eventually Palestinians will out number Israelis. If nothing changes, the U.S.A. has stated that there could be consequences for Israel if they do not sign the treaty by April 29, 2014.

Mahmoud Abbas said April 23rd, “Israel will have to reassume responsibility for the Palestinian areas - including providing basic services for some 2.5 million people - if the US-sponsored peace talks finally collapse in a week’s time [April 29].” He says he is considering dismantling the Palestinian Authority if talks end, without an extension.  He went on to set conditions to Israel for a nine-month extension to the peace negotiations. First he wants Israel to outline the borders of the future Palestinian State, and second, immediately stop all settlement construction in the West Bank, and withdraw Israeli troops from that area, third, release the fourth wave of prisoners that are still being held, which Israel had agreed to release, but recently refused to do so.

Today, April 24, 2014 Abbas of the PA and Hamas leadership have talked and have joined in a Unity Deal. Hamas agreed on Wednesday to the formation of a joint administration under Hamas leadership within five weeks. This agreement came as the US-led peace talks were seeming hopeless and nothing had been agreed upon between the parties. In 2006 elections swept Hamas into power, but the EU and the USA both declared they would not deal with Hamas unless it renounced violence, recognized Israel right to exist and past peace deals. Washington has just reaffirmed that position on Wednesday.

Some do not believe that these talks will accomplish anything, but God is in control. Man thinks that he is in control, but if it is time for THE PEACE TREATY of Daniel 9:27 which will usher in false peace for Israel, it will happen, not one moment sooner, not one moment later, just when God has ordained it. That treaty will bring in the tribulation of seven years, which is very soon to begin. We are watching and waiting.

ELECTIONS TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT THIS MAY - 2014 – European officials believe that they are on the precipice of “true political union” as they approach the elections this year. They have designs for a “United States of Europe” which will fundamentally reshape the way the EU works. There would be two chambers - the European Parliament and a senate of member states. This would allow a president of Europe to be elected with a longer ruling term and with more power.

This is a significant happening because we believe that united Europe, which is the revived Roman Empire will bring forth THE MAN, The Antichrist. According to the Word of God at first, He may be one among several noted men of this region, but gradually will come to the fore, and will be the ignominious leader of all the world. We are watchful of events of the EU because this man will make the covenant with Israel, which will promptly begin the seven years of tribulation (Dan. 9:27). Other signs show that we are on the verge of the tribulation of seven years right now. One thing we know for sure, it is all in God’s competent hands, He who knows the end from the beginning. His will move according to His Master Plan, which will be accomplished.

EVIL ABOUNDING IN THE U.S.A. AND THE WHOLE WORLD – Everyday, the abominations multiply. One could become perplexed or even angry at circumstances reported on the daily news. Sin is abounding in all forms. We read the description of the endtime in II Timothy 3 and immediately see more than anytime before, that we are living in the last days.

Jesus warned that, “As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” What was happening in the days of Noah? Genesis 6:5-7 says, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him in His heart. And the LORD said, I shall destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth...for it repenteth me that I have made them.” The next judgment, the Tribulation of seven years is at hand. God will not destroy all men on the earth, but will save many who accept salvation. Before the tribulation starts He will rapture those who are fully yielding to Him, and later others (I Thess. 4:13-18). There will also be a group of Israel who are preserved through the seven years, known as the Remnant of Israel. There will be some Gentile believers, who believed after the tribulation began, who will be kept through that time. Also, national Israel who haven’t believed on Jesus will be kept through that horrible time, to believe on Jesus as He returns in power and great glory. Zech. 13:8,9 shows that one-third of Israel will be in that group. All of these will be “earth dwellers,” who will be here on earth through the 1,000 year reign of Christ, and no doubt live on earth in a glorified state for eternity after the earth is completely made new.

What a glorious plan! The Master Designer has planned this in eternity (past) and it will all be brought to pass, just as He has decreed. Beloved saints of God, Christ is coming very soon. Just as God did not abide the evil of Noah’s day, and the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the wickedness of Israel, He will not wait much longer to judge the wicked world of today.

There is nothing we can do to cause that time to come sooner, but pray for the Lord to “Come quickly.” It behooves us to be more diligent, more yielded, ever watching, eager for Christ to come to deliver us from this evil world. We must not be contaminated with the world, but set apart to God. He will catch away His Beloved Bride in “a moment in the twinkle of an eye,” and “so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

By Gordon Crook

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8

Imagine the Son of God serving His creature. Sure seems like it should be the other way. Seems to me that He should be demanding our service. Instead, we find Him as "The Servant." What an amazing picture for us to see.

The Creator of all things lowered Himself to the level of His creation. Not just creation, but a fallen creation that did not even want Him. "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." John 1:11. We need to pause and consider sometimes exactly how far He lowered Himself for us; for me, for you.

While He was here, He taught us by example exactly what it means to be a servant. Not a servant by force or out of poverty, but a servant out of love. His entire life was one of service, down to the ultimate service of giving His life for us.

In John 13, we find Jesus a very specific act of service that helps his disciples understand what it means to be a servant. The washing of the feet was generally reserved for the servant of the house. Peter understood this and thought it was not appropriate for Jesus to stoop to this level. If Jesus was willing to stoop this low, why are we so often unwilling?

We have been called to be servants. Paul encourages us to have that same mind that was in Jesus. Our service should not be out of obligation or by demand. Jesus Himself taught us that service is out of love.

Paul even rejoiced in his service. "Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all." Philippians 2:17. This is the mind of Christ. We can't be this kind of servant on our own, or of our own mind. It is the result of complete yieldedness to the life of Christ that is in us.

It is very important to note that God never asks us to serve in any capacity that He does not also equip us for. God gives His people everything they need for the service He calls them to. If we insist on serving somewhere or in some capacity to which we were not called, we are going to fail.

So often, we think we can serve in some capacity, as long as it is where and how we want, and as long as we receive the appropriate recognition. This is not the kind of service God desires from us. When we truly learn to serve, then we will also truly be happy.

Debra Isenbletter

In the next two verses we have the servant’s answer to Boaz’s question: “Whose damsel is this?”

Ruth 2:6 – “And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:”

It is a thorough answer, showing the obedience of the servant to his master’s request and the knowledge of the servant concerning Ruth. These two qualities show the character of the servant of Boaz. In type, these qualities and the testimony of this servant reflect the character of a servant of Christ, and in this case, especially the character of the Apostle Paul. This is the testimony of a good steward, he obeys and he knows! Paul described the character of a good steward: He is first of all a “bishop” (an overseer, a shepherd) and cares for the flock. He is the “steward of God” he knows who his Master is (1 Tim 1:7). He is “sober, just, holy” (1 Tim 1:8) – He is an example in his life. He holds “fast the faithful word” (1 Tim 1:9) – He is an example in his teaching. Above all, he is “faithful” (1 Cor 4:2). Paul was such a steward, and those who preach this gospel of grace are such stewards. Boaz is a picture of the Lord of the Harvest (Luke 10:2) who has sent forth his laborers and come to visit and he asks his servant to give an account of actions.

The servant begins with a description of Ruth, he tells what he knows about her, we see his first reaction and impressions of her. Her Race is mentioned first, “It is the Moabitish damsel.” He saw her past but he didn’t let that stop him because he allowed her to glean. He acknowledges her right to glean, he knew she was a “stranger” and a “widow” (Lev 19:10; 23:22). She was a Gentile but she had a widow’s rights just as much as Naomi, for she had been married to Naomi’s son. Her Youth: she was a “damsel,” a “young woman” or a “maiden.” This was used of a girl of marriageable age, usually in her early teens (Unger Bible Dictionary). She was a widow but she was young enough to marry and bear children, eligible for marriage. Her Love: “that came back with Naomi.” He tells of her relationship and her journey with Naomi and the reason behind this is her love for Naomi. Her Faith: “out of the country of Moab.” He tells what she did. She came “out of” a place of idolatry; she left her gods and her people. She came into the land as a stranger and laid hold of her rights. The servant saw her need and accepted her, this is grace!

In type, the servant’s answer could also show the pastor’s knowledge of the flock! Warren Wiersbe writes: “To create and maintain a familiar and intimate acquaintance with the members of the flock committed to him is a most important instrument of usefulness to a faithful pastor. The whole influence and value of his ministry will be greatly dependent on this knowledge of his people. Suppose I could say of all the youthful females in the field around me, as each one appeared for my account, “This also was a daughter of Moab, but she has come back.” How applicable to them would become Paul's account of the Corinthian Christians: “Such were you, but ye have been washed, ye have been justified, ye have been sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:11) She has come back.”

Ruth 2:7 – “And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.” Now the servant tells of three things concerning Ruth: Her Request; Her Labor and Her Rest.

Her Request: She came before him with a plea and it was a gracious request: “I pray you.” The Amplified, Jewish Bible and New American Standard all translate this phrase: “Please let me.” We see a polite and timid request; she knows her rights but is not sure of the response. Grace will teach her not to be afraid to ask and grace teaches us the same thing! “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). We see her need, she was not afraid to express it: “let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.” She was hungry and willing to gather what is left, she will accept the crumbs like the woman who came to Jesus and simply asked “And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt” (Matt 15:27-28). Like the woman who came to Jesus, she knows where to go and who to ask!

Her Obedience: “so she came.” This is how easy it is, to simply come. She came at the bidding of the servant, he had give his permission. She came gratefully, eagerly, with no hesitation. This is all we have to do if we want more. All we have to do is feel our need and then come to the place where that need will be met. The permission has already been given to partake of all that we find and the promise is that we will be fed and nourished! “Ho (Oh!), every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy (admit your need), and eat (satisfy your need); yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isa 55:1). It is the need satisfies the price!

Ruth was willing to come in order to receive, the blessing began the moment she did! How many do we see coming to Jesus with their need and the moment they come He meets the need! The leper came to Jesus saying, “if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Mt 8:2). The centurion “came unto him” for his servant “beseeching him” (Mt 8:5). The woman “with the issue of blood…came…and touched his garment” (Mt 9:20). The woman “which was a sinner” came “to wash his feet with tears” (Lk 7:38). Our view of our lack of worthiness shouldn’t stop us from coming to Him!

Ruth asked a stranger, someone she didn’t know, all she knew was that there was a provision for her and this was the place. She also knew that even as a stranger and widow who was willing to lay hold of this provision, there was a responsibility and attitude that was due her, a reward for her willingness and faithfulness. “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt…” (Lev 19:34). The reward was love and acceptance, her past is forgotten and forgiven. She is not ashamed or afraid to ask, she knew she could ask. Jesus tells us to ask (Lk 11:9) and He tells us He is willing to give (Lk 11:10). The brother of Jesus, James tells us that if we don’t ask, He can’t meet the need! (Jam 4:2). Ruth was willing to ask, this is an overcomer’s faith!

Her Labor: “and hath continued even from the morning until now”. Now we see the labor of Ruth, how she continued and didn’t stop, how she kept on and didn’t give up, how she toiled and she tarried. This is what the servant saw and what he told Boaz. She didn’t stop working until the time Boaz arrived, “until now.” For her this was a “labor of love” (1 Thess 1:3), she loved Naomi, she loved Naomi’s God and she was learning to love Naomi’s people and would one day love Boaz. She labored “to give to (Naomi) who needeth” (Eph 4:28), it wasn’t just for herself. She labored with her “own hands” (1 Cor 4:12) and her labor was “not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58). Ruth’s labor was a testimony of her purpose of heart. This is the Bride’s testimony also, and her labor will be rewarded.

Her Rest: “that (except) she tarried a little in the house.” Another translation is: “except when she rested a little in the house.” (Amplified) or “except for a little rest in the shelter.” (Jewish Bible). She “tarried” or rested, only a little, it was not a lot. She labored more than she rested. She didn’t abuse the privilege given her. She also knew where to rest: “in the house.” She rested in the place provided for her! This is the house of fellowship, this is the house of others who labor. She is not alone! The Lord gives brief moments of rest before we go on to enjoy a greater rest. She took “the yoke” and was “meek and lowly.” She found “rest” for her “soul” (Mt 11:29). Paul tells us about this rest, it is the reward for labor, to be fully enjoyed we must first labor: “let us labor to enter into that rest” (Heb 4:11). It is appropriated by those who believe: “for we which believe do enter into rest” (Heb 4:3). It is God’s promise to His people: “there remaineth a rest for the people of God” (Heb 4:9).

What a wonderful blessing Ruth began to enjoy, she had a small taste that day of a greater rest that awaited her, a rest that would come at the side of Boaz! I look forward to with longing that day when I shall see my Boaz, my Bridegroom and rest in His presence, but now I can rest in His promises until that day!
To be continued
The Feasts of The Lord

Leviticus 23 – Part 3

by Earlene Davis

The Feast of Firstfruits

Vs. 9-11, “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: 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.”

The feast of Firstfruits is directly related to Passover and Unleavened Bread. It is celebrated on the morrow after the Sabbath of the week of Unleavened Bread. Since the feast of Unleavened Bread was seven days long, one of those days would be a Sunday and it would be Firstfruits each year.

When the Israelites redeemed by blood (Passover) had come into their land, God wanted them to acknowledge with thanksgiving, the fruit of the good land He had given them. Barley was the first grain of the season. They were to bring a sheaf (stalks and ears of the barley bound together) to the priest at the Temple to be waved before the Lord on their behalf. This spiritually is Christ’s resurrection and His resurrection is happy news worthy of celebration.

Vs. 12-14, “And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD. And the meat (meal) offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” A he-lamb without blemish with its meal offering was burnt upon the altar as a sweet savor. For it was on the basis of what Christ accomplished by His death that He was raised from the dead.

The sheaf was to be waved the day after the sabbath. Christ arose on this day “for our justification,” Rom. 4:25. To the Gentiles this day is known as Easter, named for the false Babylonian goddess, Ishtar, the pagan goddess of fertility. Many worship such objects of fertility such as the rabbit, the egg, etc. A far cry from the Feast of Firstfruits. We miss a very important truth of God by not using the name “Firstfruits” as the name of this feast. “First” implies a second, a third, etc. The first harvest is but a promise of the larger harvest to come. The condition which brought about the first harvest will also bring the rest.

In Christ (the one sheaf) is the acceptance of the great harvest – a new creation. I Cor. 15:20-23, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.” Jesus Christ is the firstfruit whom God raised from the dead. He is the promise or guarantee of our resurrection through faith in Him.

If we die before Jesus comes again, we will be raised, “every man in His own order.” This word “order” in the Greek means, orderly in arrangement, a series of succession, ranks as in a military troop. God has an order and His Son was number one, the Firstfruits. We are now qualifying for the order in which we will be resurrected or translated. We not only remember the resurrection of our Lord on “Firstfruits,” but our resurrection, the resurrection of His body, the church. Col. 1:18, “…he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

Paul yearned to be resurrected out from the rest of the believing dead. In other words the first rank to go up. Phil. 3:11, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” This word resurrection is different from all other places we read this word. It has a prefix in front of it “ek” and has the meaning of out-resurrection from the other believing dead. May we also desire to be of that company, who love His appearing and have not left their first love for Christ. II Tim. 4:7-8 & Rev. 2:4.

I Thes. 4:16-17, tells how each rank will go up. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

It is impossible to separate the resurrection of the saints from that of Christ. The consummation of all things is bound up with both. Rev. 20:6. All believers are part of the first resurrection no matter what rank they are in. The second resurrection is of the wicked dead to be judged after the millennium. Rev. 20:5,11-15.

Isn’t it marvelous when we understand these feasts? Jesus celebrated the Sunday of the week of His crucifixion by rising from the dead. It was not some other day He chose, but the very day of Firstfruits. Just as He had fulfilled Passover and Unleavened Bread on their feast day. Also Jesus presented His proper Firstfruits offering to the Father. What Happened? Graves were opened and some believers came forth and were seen in Jerusalem after His resurrection (Mt. 27:53). The Lord, like the Jewish farmer, gratefully showed the Father the early crops of what will be a magnificent harvest later.
Comfort in Trial

by Roy Clark

“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Cor. 1:4

This portion of Scripture gives us two thoughts about tribulation and comfort. First, Paul declares that God our Father comforts us in all our tribulation. Second, he tells us that we are to comfort others who are in tribulation by the same comfort wherewith He has comforted us.

This is such a wonderful truth and it is important that we understand it. God loves us! He wants to comfort us in our tribulation.

There are those teachers (?) who tell us that we should not be in trial. They tell us that if we walk by faith, we will not suffer affliction. However, we realize that these men do not understand God’s wonderful truth and their teaching only confuses many people. Jesus said, “these things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” John. 16:33.

The word tribulation means “a pressing” or “pressure.” It is used with the thought of oppression, affliction, distress, or straits. “Tribulatio” was a Roman threshing instrument used to separate the wheat from the chaff. Isn’t it wonderful to know that even in the pressure that is necessary to get the chaff out of our lives, God is always there to comfort, to stand by our side with comfort and solace. He’s always there! Hallelujah!

Then do you see our responsibility to others who are in tribulation? We are to “comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” Remind them that God is blowing away the chaff and that He is faithful; these afflictions being but for a moment. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Phil. 4:7.