Summary: Re-examining the Harvest Feast (Feast of Weeks, Pentecost)and it’s continued importance to us today and our stewardship.
GOD’S HARVEST FEAST
Series: First Fruits, Fresh Spirit
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, Sun. November 9, 2008 AM
We often think of this time of the year as the “Harvest Season.” In reality, most harvests are long completed, but it is the time we traditionally count and enjoy the proverbial and literal fruits of the harvest! Or, as FoodNetwork host, Alton Brown likes to say, “Good Eats!”
Of course this year, particularly in the midst of an election, we have heard much, much more about all that we don’t have, have lost or may yet lose than all that we do have and continue to acquire and be blessed by. Beginning today and for the following two weeks, we are going to be focusing our sermon time on what it means to recognize, experience, and reap God’s Harvest Feast!!!
Yes, I know there is a lot of talk about us being in a “financial crisis.” I recognize that some have even flippantly harped on this being the toughest economic crisis since the Great Depression. (Those of us who actually lived through that time can easily tell the rest of us how there is absolutely no comparison). Nevertheless, how are we doing as God’s church when it comes not only to reaping the Harvest but in honoring God through it?
Please consider: In a study released within the past year, and before anybody began predicting an “economic crisis,” it was discovered that on average people are giving 2.3% of their income to Christian/charitable causes. By the way, during the Great Depression, that number was 3%!
Another study that was released in 2007 focused specifically on what church members gave to their churches. In the Empy Tomb Inc. study, “The State of Church Giving Through 2004,” it was concluded that in 2004 church members were giving 2.56% of their income, down from 3.11 percent in 1968. (The Washington Times, 4/2/2007)
Brian Kluth, a financial expert, Christian and author reported that at the average church, 30-50% don’t give anything. Without question, we acknowledge and respect that a person or family’s giving is a matter of personal choice and we personally as pastors, trustees, and as a church do not actively require or ’police’ specific levels of giving.
Nevertheless, Our God and Savior through His Word does clearly communicate His intentions and desires in relation to our harvesting and giving and it is my responsibility before Him and the church to communicate these things. How each one of us chooses to respond to this and the results of those responses are each individual’s to make and live with.
In approaching this subject this morning, we will look at the Biblical record concerning the Harvest Feast that God commissioned Israel to honor and then look at how this may apply to us today.
I.) THE NAMES FOR THE HARVEST FEAST
Both in the Bible and tradition, this festival we just read about has been given various names, all appropriate. To better understand this and to minimize any confusion, let us quickly look at these.
The Harvest Feast: as it accompanies and celebrates the wheat and firstfruits harvest.
The Feast of Wheat: Wheat was the primary grain offering and first one presented.
The Day of FirstFruits: celebrating the first fruits of the main Harvest, but not the same as the Feast of First Fruits celebrated 7 weeks earlier with the barley harvest.
Shavuot: the Hebrew word for “weeks,” referring to God’s designation of the timing of the festival.
The Feast of Weeks: English substitute for Shavuot
Pentecost: A Greek word which literally means “fiftieth day,” again referring to it’s timing in relation to the earlier festival celebrating the barley harvest (which Pastor E. will talk more about next week).
II.) THE PURPOSE OF THE HARVEST FEAST
The Harvest Feast was given by God to the people in order that they appropriately mark the beginning of the summer wheat harvest on an indefinite annual basis.
In the Scriptures we already read, God revealed that appropriately marking this time means specially setting it apart as a Holy Day in honor of the Lord, His goodness, provision, and blessing upon an undeserving people.
It’s tremendous importance is evident by that fact that it was the second of only three pilgrim festivals that the Lord required all adult Jewish males to attend at Jerusalem.
III.) THE WAIT FOR THE HARVEST FEAST
The Harvest Feast was designated to occur on the fiftieth day, or the day after seven weeks had passed since the earlier barley harvest and Feast of First Fruits.
We should all be reminded here of the God-given principle etched into nature and creation itself of the need and value of waiting patiently and faithfully upon the Lord for His provision and blessings.