This is the second of the festivals that God is instituting after the children of Israel reach the Promised Land. The second harvest feast.
In the New Testament this feast is referred to as Pentecost. This is the day that the Holy Spirit came down to dwell in the hearts of believers. But before that it was a celebration to commemorate the second of Israel’s harvests.
The Feast of First Fruits was at the end of the spring harvest and beginning of the summer planting season. The people gave of what they had harvested first to God and praised Him for the promise of what was to come in the second growing season. The Feast of First Fruits is also the day we celebrate Easter; where Jesus is the first fruits of God’s new Kingdom.
The Feast of Weeks is the actualization of that promise for the summer harvest. It takes place between the harvest of barley and wheat. It is larger than the spring harvest but not as large as the fall harvest still to come. But like the spring harvest, God gets HIS portion FIRST. This time instead of bringing a sheaf of grain the people are to bring something made with the harvest; bread. This bread is different from the bread most often brought to the Tabernacle for sacrifice. This bread is made with leaven.
Included in the prescribed offerings for this festival is a sin offering. It intrigues me that God called for leaven, which represents sin, in the offering then has the people offer a sin offering along with it. I wonder if this could represent that God KNOWS there is sin in our lives no matter how hard we try to squash it out but that He prepared for that in advance. God gave us Jesus as our sin offering even when we were dead in our sins. He didn’t require us to “be clean” before He cleaned us. He offered, and still offers, us a way out of sin. That offer is through Jesus’ blood.
The Feast of Weeks now commemorates the harvest of MANY souls for God’s Kingdom. Over 3,000 people came to accept Jesus as their Messiah on that day. That harvest is still growing and going on.
Another command God gave regarding the harvest to Israel. Included in His specifications for this festival He also mandated that the fields were to be left with provisions for those who were in need. God commanded His people to leave the edges of their fields and what dropped on the ground. This wasn’t a sign of a neglectful farmer but of one who cared for those in need.
I would have been bad in this situation. In my home I have many nicknames. One of them is the “Queen of the Scrape.” I am determined to get the last bit out of the bowls, jars, cans and boxes that pass through my cupboards. My dog gets very depressed by my behavior. He would LOVE for me to leave him larger portions to glean from. I don’t want to “waste” anything.
God’s instructions didn’t constitute waste but care. This wasn’t “charity” as some think of it. It was not a “hand out” or a “free lunch.” This was a way for the poor to “provide for themselves” by going out and reaping of what remained. This gave the poor provisions as well as dignity.
Thank You Father for providing the harvest. Thank You for providing for the futures of those who had nothing but were willing to work. I’m more inclined to give something to someone when they demonstrate action on their own part to work towards it. I think that is part of why I “hire” my son for yard services. I see his need and want to help him. I don’t want to insult him or enable him. I want him to take pride in a job well done. And he and his wife do a FANTASTIC job for me! Thank You for blessing both of us in this process.
Help me know how to sow into the lives around me. Show me when and how to “leave the edges” for those in need. Help me to inspire upward mobility instead of complacency. Inspire that in me too Father. Don’t let me be satisfied to only pick around the edges of Your word but to dig deep and find the treasures hidden there.