Wednesday, March 23, 2011

THE CHURCH AS FIRSTFRUITS

PATTERNS IN THE JEWISH FEASTS


In looking at the FEASTS of the Lord, which were established for Israel to follow, we can glean important insight for the Church.  Why?  Because it’s Jesus, Himself, and the work of His ministry, that’s prophesied within those feasts.

What are the feasts?  We find them recorded in Leviticus 23, and I suggest that you familiarize yourself with them.

I’ll LIST the feasts, but will NOT do any extensive teaching upon them, at this point.  In this series, my purpose is to focus upon THE FIRSTFRUITS.

A LIST OF THE FEASTS:  The first three were fulfilled by the ministry of Jesus in His First Coming--Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits.  The fourth feast is Pentecost--fulfilled when the Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 JEWS who BIRTHED the Church.  The last three feasts are Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles--yet to be fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus’ Second Coming.

What is FIRSTFRUITS?  It occurred THREE DAYS after the crucifixion of Jesus.  On the morning of FIRSTFRUITS, Jesus ROSE from the dead, and become the FIRSTFRUITS of ALL who will participate in the FIRST RESURRECTION.


THE CHURCH AS FIRSTFRUITS


To begin our look at FIRSTFRUITS, and HOW it pertains to the Church, let’s read Romans 8:22-23.

“For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.  And not only they (the creation), but ourselves also, which have THE FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, WAITING for the ADOPTION, to wit, the REDEMPTION OF OUR BODY.”

This passage focuses upon an earth under the turmoil of pain and death--the result of man’s fall into sin.  Sin is so SERIOUS, that it brought about ALL the trouble and woe which we see in the current world system.  People often ask--“Why does God allow bad weather, earthquakes and other tragedies?  Why does God allow sickness and suffering?”

The truth is that God did NOT ALLOW such things--instead they’re the OUTCOME of sin entering His perfect creation.  From the time of Adam’s sin, God’s been in the process of restoring His creation back to what it was at the very beginning--and that restoration COMES through the ministry of Jesus.

We, true Church, have THE FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit.  What does that mean?  We’re the UNIQUE BODY of believers in whom the Holy Spirit resides.  No other people of God can claim to have the Holy Spirit living inside them!  That’s why our POSITION in Jesus is so UNIQUE!  We’re the FIRST of God’s people to be INDWELLED by the Holy Spirit, so therefore we’re called “THE FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit.”
 
But even with the Spirit dwelling within, we groan, having to live in an unrestored creation, and needing to exist within bodies where our sin nature WARS with the Spirit.  Therefore, we wait for the ADOPTION, meaning this, the REDEMPTION OF OUR BODIES.

The ADOPTION, in this case, points to that time when we’ll be taken to the ACTUAL PRESENCE of God in heaven.  (While we ALREADY POSSESS the ADOPTION as “God’s sons,” there is YET COMING that TIME when we’ll actually be inside His HOUSE, at the throne of God in heaven--and having glorified bodies that no longer pull us toward sin!)  Hallelujah!

When we proceed to be with God in heaven (as Jesus descends into the air in the clouds to call us up), we’ll RECEIVE the REDEMPTION OF OUR BODIES.  This means that our mortal flesh will be transformed into GLORIFIED BODIES, like the BODY which Jesus now has.  Romans 8:22-23 LOOKS FORWARD to what will happen to the Church at the time of our Pre-Tribulation Rapture!


A “SERIES” OF RESURRECTIONS ARE REVEALED IN SCRIPTURE, STARTING WITH CHRIST “THE FIRSTFRUITS.”


There’s more about FIRSTFRUITS.  Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, plus the first phrase of verse 24.

“But NOW is Christ risen from the dead, and BECOME THE FIRSTFRUITS of them that slept (who have died), for since by man came death, by Man (Jesus) came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam ALL die, 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.  THEN COMES THE END”--(when Jesus will WREST the earth AWAY from His enemies--and ESTABLISH His MILLENNIAL KINGDOM).

In this passage, we see THE ORDER of what happens in the FIRST RESURRECTION!

The FIRST RESURRECTION, unto eternal life, does NOT occur in one fell swoop.  There’s a TIMELINE established here, and a SPECIFIC ORDER.

The FIRST “Man” to be RESURRECTED from the dead (and remain alive forevermore in a glorified body) is Jesus.  He is THE FIRSTFRUITS, which was fulfilled upon the VERY DAY of the Feast FIRSTFRUITS.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He also resurrected A FEW Old Testament saints, who fulfilled a DETAIL of THE FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS.  These saints became A SHEAF of the WAVE OFFERING (Leviticus 23:10-11), which Jesus waved before the Father soon AFTER His Resurrection.  In Matthew 27:52-53, we read that graves were opened and MANY bodies (but NOT all) of the (Old Testament) saints arose AFTER Jesus’ resurrection.  This fulfilled the FEAST of FIRSTFRUITS down to EVERY little detail--even the “small SHEAF” of “the full harvest” which will be completed later!

NEXT in line to receive a RESURECTION/RAPTURE are “they that are Christ’s at His coming” (the true Church).

AND, I want you to be aware of the FINAL PHRASE “right now”--“THEN COMES THE END.”  AFTER the RESURRECTION/RAPTURE of the true Church, END TIME PROPHECIES will happen (the Tribulation period, Antichrist, end time wars, plagues, troubles, scary sights and signs from heaven)!  All those END TIME prophecies will happen as Jesus judges the enemies and cleanses the earth--in preparation to establish His Millennial Kingdom.

Now, let’s go back and look at the phrase--“THEY that are Christ’s at HIS COMING”:

In the Resurrection/Rapture of the true Church, those who died (while believing in Jesus) during THE CHURCH AGE will be raised from the dead.  PLUS those of us who REMAIN and ARE ALIVE at that COMING/APPEARING of Jesus will be instantly TRANSLATED (removed from earth to heaven without passing through usual death) in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.  John 14:2-3.  1 Corinthians 15:51-53.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8.  Isaiah 26:17-21.  Zephaniah 2:2-3.  Malachi 3:17-18.

We, the true Church, are the SECOND STAGE of the FIRST RESURRECTION--“They that ARE Christ’s at His coming.”  1 Corinthians 15:23.

THEN COMES THE END.  That’s WHEN God will build up and restore Israel--doing so by SHOWING them THE FACT that Jesus was truly their Messiah. Acts 15:14-16.  Romans 11:25-26.  Israel will repent of their sin of rejecting Jesus DURING the “seven year Tribulation.”  Zechariah 12:10.

AFTER the Tribulation, the THIRD STAGE of the FIRST RESURRECTION will arrive.

At that time, the martyred saints of the Tribulation will be raised from the dead.  Revelation 20:4-5.  Also, at the END of the Tribulation, the REMAINING Old Testament saints (who were NOT part of the FIRSTFRUITS wave offering) will be raised.  Job 19:25-26.  (Job declared that WHEN his Redeemer shall STAND at the latter day ON the earth, THEN he shall be resurrected, and IN HIS FLESH--a glorified body--he’d see God.  Jesus will STAND ON THE EARTH in His Kingdom AFTER the seven-year Tribulation.)

In this scriptural pattern (from 1 Corinthians 15:20-23) is the OBVIOUS TRUTH!  The true Church will be Raptured BEFORE the events of the Tribulation!  Later, in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, the ACTUAL RAPTURE is described!  This MAINTAINS the CONTEXT of the previous verses in 1 Corinthians 15.


JESUS, FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD--AND HIS CHURCH


Let’s look at Colossians 1:18.
   
“And He (Jesus) is the HEAD of the BODY, the CHURCH:  Who is the beginning, the FIRSTBORN from the dead; that in ALL things He might have preeminence.”

This is another scripture which SHOWS Jesus as the FIRSTBORN (first resurrected in a glorified body) from the dead.  He, of course, fulfilled the Feast of FIRSTFRUITS.  But, there’s ADDED insight--when we factor in the Church (as ONE with Him).

Jesus is the HEAD of His BODY, who is the CHURCH.  Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling FIRSTFRUITS.  So also, we, true Church, are FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit, the FIRST of God’s people who are INDWELLED by the Holy Spirit.  Romans 8:23.  And being ONE (vitally linked WITH JESUS in His BODY), we SHARE with Him the attribute of being AMONG the FIRSTBORN from the dead to receive glorified bodies!  That means our Resurrection/Rapture MUST come BEFORE the end--AFTER WHICH the Tribulation saints (and the Old Testament saints) receive their resurrection.  Do you see how this all ties in?  I hope so.

Let’s consider another scripture--James 1:16-18.

“Do not err, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  Of His OWN WILL begat He US with the WORD OF TRUTH, that we should be a kind of FIRSTFRUITS of His creatures.”

James clearly declares that we, true Church, will be a FIRSTFRUITS of His (God’s) creatures.  As Jesus fulfilled the FEAST of FIRSTFRUITS, so we, too, Church, as His BODY, made ONE with Him, are included in that FIRSTFRUITS category.  We receive a Resurrection/Rapture BEFORE the others--who must WAIT until AFTER Jesus sets His feet on the earth AFTER the terrible events of the Tribulation.

We also see, in that passage from James, that God has NO VARIABLENESS and NO SHADOW OF TURNING.  What God has declared in ONE PLACE in scripture, He’ll REPEAT and REINFORCE in ANOTHER PLACE of scripture.  We must do our thorough and in-depth homework in establishing doctrines--teaching that which SHOWS NO CONTRADICTIONS with other portions of scripture.

I state EMPHATICALLY and BOLDLY my conclusion.  I’ve discovered how Mid-Trib, Post-Trib, Partial-Trib and Pre-Wrath INTERPRETATIONS of the Rapture ALL contain DISCREPANCIES--when compared with other scriptures.  ONLY the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church remains HARMONIOUS with what God has declared elsewhere.

That says something to us, Church!  The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the TRUE interpretation.

However, DON’T just TAKE my word for this conclusion.  Research the Word for yourselves, comparing scripture to scripture--rightly dividing the word of truth.

Jesus died to GIVE us so much!  And for that, we worship Him forever and forever.

We “wait for His Son FROM HEAVEN, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which DELIVERED us from the wrath to come.”  1 Thessalonians 1:10.

“So Christ was offered to bear the sins of many; and UNTO THEM that LOOK FOR HIM shall He APPEAR a second time WITHOUT SIN unto salvation.”  Hebrews 9:28.

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. The last three Feasts represent what the Lord will do during His second coming.

    During the Feast of Trumpets the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father. His angels will gather the righteous before the unrighteous are destroyed (Mat. 24:29-31, 16:27, 1 Cor. 15:50-52, Ezra 3:1-6). The prophets call it the day of the Lord (Joel 2:30-31, Isa. 13:9-11, Zep. 2:3).

    During the Day of Atonement the Holy One will return for the salvation of Israel (Dan. 9:24, Rev. 10:1-7, Rom. 11:25-27, Heb. 9:28).

    Five days later, during the Feast of Tabernacles, the Messiah will gather the remnant of Israel before the last seven plagues are poured out (Lev. 23:32-34, Rev. 14:1-4; 15:1; 16:1-21).

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