Summary: The significance to Christians fo the three major Jewish Festivals with regard to Harvest
One day Bill went out hunting in the woods just outside Prince George in British Columbia, Canada.
It had been a slow day and he hadn’t found any game to shoot.
Suddenly, he heard a noise behind him.
He whirled around and saw two ferocious looking bears coming towards him.
He quickly raised his rifle to his shoulder, took aim and pulled the trigger.
Nothing - the rifle misfired. He reloaded and fired again
Click… click… click.
Again, nothing - the gun just wasn’t working.
By this time, the bears were almost on top of him.
In desperation, he threw down his rifle and ran.
But the faster he ran, the closer the bears got.
Finally Bill came to the edge of a cliff.
As there was nowhere to go, he dropped to his knees and began to pray.
“O Lord, I pray that you make these bears Christian bears.”
As Bill looked up, he was surprised to see the bears kneeling just a few feet away from him.
And as he listened, he heard one bear pray;
“For what we are about to receive, may the Good Lord make us truly thankful. Amen”
Harvest Festival is a time when we give thanks to God for his goodness to us.
It is a time to celebrate – to thank God for his good ness in providing for our Harvest.
We live in a society were we have so much that we take it all for granted.
Yet it is important to give thanks and celebrate God’s goodness to us – and to realise how blessed we are.
1. Harvest Festival
The Harvest Festival Service stands in a long tradition for God’s people.
It goes back a good 4,000 years – as our Old Testament lesson this morning reminds us.
And kit stands in the tradition of the three important Jewish festivals.
The first of these Jewish festivals was the Feast of Passover.
It was usually held in March or April each year – at the beginning of what was known as the “Spring grain harvest”.
It was a time for thanksgiving.
It was a time to remember how God himself had brought the Jewish people out of Egypt miraculously.
It was at this festival that God’s people remembered how God himself had been their Saviour.
When we look at the New Testament, this festival takes on a greater significance for Christians – because it was at Passover that Jesus was crucified.
Passover reminds us that Jesus came to this earth to be our Saviour by taking us out of the slavery of sin and bringing us back into a new relationship with God.
That is why we give thanks
2. Feast of Weeks
The second major Jewish festival was the Feast of Weeks
It is also known as the Feast of Harvest in Exodus (Exodus 23:16) and generally occurred at the end of the barley harvest.
It took place 50 days after Passover – and is better known to us today as Pentecost ( a word derived from the Greek for 50 – Pentekostos)
In the New Testament, we see Pentecost having a new significance, because we read in the book of Acts -in Acts 2 - that at Pentecost the power of the Holy Spirit was first released on the disciples.
It enabled them to experience the first fruits of the Jesus’ spiritual harvest
And you may recall that 3000 people became Christians that day as a result of St Peter’s preaching.
The first fruits of the Christian Harvest
3. And the third festival was the Feast of Tabernacles - referred to by one commentator as “the Autumn Harvest” - which occurred after the grape and grain harvest was over.
It was at that festival that the Jews would camp out for a week in tents - recalling the temporary dwellings they had after the exodus.
For us as Christians, the Feast of Tabernacles is a reminder that our dwelling on earth is not permanent – but temporary.
For our final destination is to be with Jesus in Paradise
As we celebrate Harvest today – let us remember that Harvest stands in succession to the three great Jewish feasts.
1. The Feast of Passover – occurs at the beginning of the Spring grain Harvest
2. The Feast of Pentecost – occurs at the end of the Spring Grain Harvest and
3. The Feast of Tabernacles at the end of the Autumn Harvest
But let’s also remember that Harvest has a spiritual dimension too.
1. For firstly Passover – in the past - reminds us of what it cost Jesus to bring us into a right relationship with God. And it is right to have such memories – and remember his death on the Cross for our sakes.