The feast of harvest is an important day spiritually for all Christians. It is also known as the feast of weeks and it is on the same day the Holy Spirit came down after Jesus’ resurrection (Pentecost). The Israelites observed the Passover on 14th day of 1st month. On 16th day of 1st month, they observed the harvest of the first fruits of barley. 7 weeks later, on the 6th day of 3rd month, they observed the feast of harvest.
When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, they were free from Egyptian slavery and went through 40 years of wilderness. This timetable which God gave them to celebrate the feast of harvest coincided exactly with the day Moses received the 10 commandments (Exodus 34:22). Passover is on the 14th day of 1st month. The Exodus is immediately after, if we are to look at 7 weeks, that ends up being the 3rd month of 6th day. That is also the day God gave the 10 commandments to the Israelites. Specifically in the Bible, God planned the feast of harvest to be the day He gave His words to the Israelites.
If you fast forward to 27AD, which is the year Christ was crucified, God used the same timetable. Exactly 50 days after Jesus’ crucifixion, the Holy Spirit was given to the early churches (Pentecost). This is the day when God gave the Words to the Israelites and gave the holy spirit to the churches (Act 2:1-2). On Pentecost, God gave the Holy Spirit to speak in other tongues. In those days, Jerusalem was the key, the centre of the world of which all these nationalities were mentioned in the Bible. God allows the word of God, the gospel to spread out to all of the world. As we observe the feast of harvest, in the middle of the year, we have to remember why God chose this day, not just to give the Word. During the time of Moses, it was to give the word. During the time of Jesus, it is to translate the Word and go out. If you keep that in mind, how should Christians observe the Feast of Harvest?
1. Jesus was the First Fruit
Jesus is that spiritual first fruit, He died and resurrected. As Christians we are born and lived again, so we are able to have that new life. In a year, there are 3 main feasts, Passover observed in Spring, Feast of Harvest in Summer and Feast of Tabernacles in Autumn. During the Passover, when the lamb was killed, all the Israelites were saved from the angel of death, who symbolized the cross of Jesus. In Autumn, the last feast, the feast of the Tabernacle where they brought the ingathering of the harvest at the end of the year. This symbolizes the judgment spiritually, there will be a day of judgment in the end. We are living at this point (mid of the year), observing the day of harvest. And we have to spread this word so the judgment can come and all those who God predestines can pass over from death to life. Every single feast points to our salvation. While Israelites were slaves in Egypt, it is just like we are slaves to sin. We do whatever we feel is necessary to survive. But God has opened up a new way for us to change our personality and characters, change our future and give us hope. All these changes have to result in freedom and we have to be thankful for that.
2. Ultimate aim of observing the feast of harvest is to be thankful
Thankfulness is not a switch that you can switch on at will. We can’t do so unless God blesses us and gives us thankfulness. If we are not thankful, we have to pray. A thankful heart is a heavy heart because you remember all the good God has given you and all the bad He has allowed you to go through. On the day of the feast of Harvest, God is teaching us how to be thankful (Romans 1:21). If thankfulness is a mark of someone God had blessed, the mark of someone who is not blessed is the lack of thanksgiving. We have to wake up and realize complaining has no place in Christian life. Thanksgiving bears the fruit of prosperity and harmony for us. We give thanks first and then it shall be done as you believe. (Colossians 2:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Job said it famously, the Lord gave and He took away, blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21). As long as we are spiritually alive, we praise God in everything we do (Isaiah 38:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Psalm 75:1). Deuteronomy 32:7, when you remember what happened in the Bible, your eyes of faith are opened. The Israelites who don’t remember the work of the Lord, ended up leaving their faith (Judges 2:10). It is not by birth we are gifted with great faith. It is by you being able to retain the word God has given you. God has a plan for you, whatever that has happened this year, He has your foot under His grasp, how can we not be thankful (Psalm 121:3-4, Romans 8:28, Psalm 130:5-8). Today God may have taken something important from you and you may not understand. But if you are thankful, you will always be satisfied.
We should observe the feast of harvest according to Deuteronomy 16:10-11.
I. It has to be at a place where God chose to put his name. It is the church, the house of God.
II. Bring a freewill offering, something from your heart that says ‘Thank you, Father’.
III. You shall rejoice. You have to give thanks but you have to feel it too. Rejoicing with the Lord, in His church with the free will offering. If you can be so thankful, all the days of your lives, no matter what problem comes, because you are always satisfied and you are always at peace. It doesn’t come from things around but from the word of God. May we remember this day with joy. God meant for your feast of the harvest to be joyful.