Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 8/10/03
"If you bring a grain offering of firstfruits to the LORD, offer crushed heads of new grain roasted in the fire... The priest shall burn the memorial portion of the crushed grain and the oil, together with all the incense, as an offering made to the LORD by fire" (Lev. 2:14,16).
The ancient process of harvesting the firstfruits is taking place in the lives of many Saints today. Peter said about it, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed" (I Pet. 4:12,13, RSV).
The following is from a book entitled, "The Feasts of the Lord," by Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal. The feast of Firstfruits marked the beginning of the cereal grain harvests in Israel. The authors describe in detail this little known feast, which occurs two days after Passover on the 16th day of Nisan (March or April). It begins the countdown to the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), exactly 50 days later. The first grain to ripen was barley, and the temple priests had a special field set aside, where the best sheaves (the elect) were marked by representatives from the Sanhedrin, Israel's ruling religious body. At sundown on Nisan 15 (the beginning of the new Jewish day), the representatives went to the field to reap the selected grain. Since the people were forbidden to use any part of the harvest in any way until after the firstfruits were offered to the Lord (Lev. 23:14), this was a special time in Israel. The ritual for the Firstfruits ceremony is found in Deuteronomy 26:1-10.
The hand picked grain was threshed, roasted over an open flame, and winnowed in the wind to remove the chaff. "Finally the barley was milled and put through an intensive sifting process until sifted very fine. According to the Talmud, this sifting ceremony continued until one of the Temple inspectors could plunge his hands into the flour and remove them without any flour adhering to his hands.
"On the morning of Nisan 16, the firstfruits were presented to the Lord. One omer (about five pints) of the barley flour was mixed with 3/4 pint of olive oil, and a small amount of frankincense was sprinkled upon it. This became the Firstfruits offering. The priest waved it before the Lord in accordance with Leviticus 23:11-13 and burned a small amount upon the altar. The remainder was given to the Levites." End Quote (From pages 75-79).
The firstfruits referred to plant life, all produce grown, but the Law also required that the firstborn of their flocks and herds and children be offered unto the Lord. "Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine" (Ex. 13:2, RSV). As you recall, the Levites were not given any portion of land, for the Lord Himself was their portion (Josh 14:4; 18:7). God arranged for their care and provision, with the gifts and offerings the other tribes brought as an offering to Him. The Lord Had said to Aaron: "Everything in Israel that is devoted to the LORD is yours. The first offspring of every womb, both man and animal, that is offered to the LORD is yours. But you must redeem every firstborn son and every firstborn male of unclean animals. When they are a month old, you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. "But you must not redeem the firstborn of an ox, a sheep or a goat; they are holy. Sprinkle their blood on the altar and burn their fat as an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD" (Num. 18:14-17, NIV).
The offering of the first-born was to remind them that God delivered them from bondage in Egypt: "I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether man or animal. They are to be mine. I am the LORD" (Num. 3:12-13, NIV). This was a powerful symbol of their freedom, the archetype of the coming Redeemer of all men. "In days to come, when your son asks you, 'What does this mean?' say to him, 'With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed every firstborn in Egypt, both man and animal. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons'" (Ex. 13:14-15, NIV).
That's all very interesting, but what does it have to do with us, you may want to know. The Holy Spirit uses scripture to interpret scripture as He plumbs the depths of the deep things of God. As the first-born Son of God, Christ's life was poured out as an offering in fulfillment of the Law of firstfruits; He was the first-born from the dead (Col. 1:18). When He was born, Mary and Joseph took Him to the Temple to pay the required fee. "And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons" (Luke 2:22-24).
As the first-born, "the firstfruits of them that slept" (I Cor. 15:20), Christ IS the WAY home for all of us. The Apostle James said that we, His followers, are "a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (James 1:18). That being true, we should not consider it a strange thing that so many of us are being tried, as by fire, roasted over the flames in order to produce a sweet savor unto the Lord. Our works may burn up, but we ourselves will be saved as through fire (I Cor. 3:15).
We had an e-mail this week from Diana Gallovich (Eighth Day Assembly), in which she pointed out that Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av (a significant date in the Jewish calendar), will begin the evening of Wednesday, August 6, to the evening of Thursday, August 7, 2003. She wrote,
"This particular date is infamous in Jewish history! It is a national day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people many of which have occurred on this date.... It primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, BOTH of which were destroyed on the exact same day, the ninth of Av! The first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE; the second by the Romans in 70 CE" End Quote.
As we talked about this day of mourning for the destruction of both temples, she added an additional thought: "A number of years back, I did a study on the Garden of Eden that states the Garden of Eden was, in fact, the FIRST TEMPLE! There has actually been the fall of 3 Temples, NOT TWO! If another physical temple were to be built in Jerusalem, it would not be the 3rd Temple, but rather the 4th! You can visit the study on the Garden being the First Temple. (See Link at End).
"In keeping with God's purpose that the 9th of Av appears to be the date for the destruction of Temples, I wonder if it could be that the 9th of Av was the date of the FALL OF ADAM AND EVE!??" End Quote.
What hit me forcefully when I read her question was that our bodies are NOW the temple of the Holy Spirit. "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are" (I Cor, 3:16,17, RSV). Will the 9th of Av, this year or next year be the day when our mortal flesh is finally overcome by immortality? I wrote a piece two years ago regarding this date, called "The Third Temple" (See Link at End), in which I showed why it will NOT be rebuilt on Mount Zion the way so many Christians and Jews believe. And to make sure that it would not be rebuilt there, God ordained that the Dome of the Rock, one of Islam's holiest shrines, sits on the very spot where Abraham was sent to sacrifice his first born son Isaac to God (an example of firstfruits predating the Law). The Dome of the Rock represents unglorified flesh to me, the carnal nature, if you will, man's attempt, encrusted in gold, to seek God by the works of his own hands.
When Solomon was preparing to build his magnificent, gold slathered temple, he wisely concluded, "The house which I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to burn incense before him?" (II Chr. 2:5,6, RSV). That temple was destroyed on the 9th of Av, by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE. Herod the Great remodeled and expanded the humble temple built by Zerubbabel and the captives when they returned from Babylon. This pitiful substitute made the old men weep as they remembered the one Solomon built! (Ezra 3:12). It was said of Herod's temple that if you have never seen it, you have never seen a beautiful building, and yet, it was totally destroyed on the 9th of Av by the Romans led by General Titus in 70 CE. As Jesus prophesied, not one stone was left on the other (Lk. 19:44; 21:6).
Our God dwells in a temple "not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (II Cor. 5:1). We are the temple and we are the firstfruits of all creation, which God is harvesting now. The firstfruits are threshed, as in a divine combine, and roasted over fire, then ground exceedingly fine in order to make bread to feed the hungry, in and out of the pews. In the process, the temple is cleansed at the same time. When we look in the mirror, we see corruptible flesh, but when God looks at us, He sees Christ, His first born, the sacrifice for all the other sons and daughters He has, and yet, in some ways, the best is yet to come.
Lenny's comment about Christ's body coming out of the tomb to prove that the flesh will be redeemed really spoke to me, for it is the tension between flesh and spirit which has so many bound up right now. Linda Keith wrote what I consider a prophetic message to me this week. She said, "I will be soooo glad when Father makes you REALLY realize that you are His Christ. The Christ man is not the man we think ourselves to be. It's not us AND HIM. It's just Him, living His life through this flesh vessel of ours. KNOWING that we are HIS CHRIST makes us to know that WE can do all things, simply by being open to allowing Father to actually work through us, and speak through us. We are ONE with Him.... He is waking us up to the real knowing that we are as He is, because we are an expression of Him, an individual MEMBER of Him.... He is going to raise you up into a higher realm in Him. I can't wait. The world won't stand a chance!!" End Quote.
I received this for myself, as from the Lord, but it speaks for ALL the elect in this hour as well. I personally am convinced that the higher realm is the FINAL manifestation of the Sons of God for which the creation is groaning. It's all done in Spirit right now, of course. Christ is all and in all (Col. 3:11). The fulness of Him who fills all things dwells in us right now, today (Eph. 1:23), and yet the creation still groans, meaning there is more glory awaiting us when our flesh comes out of its tomb. This earthly tabernacle in which we dwell is mortal and perishable, but in a twinkling of an eye, we shall all be changed. "For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?"" (I Cor. 15:53-55, RSV).
When this happens, as Linda Keith said, the world won't stand a chance. "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" (Psa. 2:1, KJV). I believe it is because they do not know the Lord's anointed, against whom they conspire to make war. He laughs and scoffs at their plans. Reading this with your natural mind may scare you because it speaks of His anger and wrath (Vs. 5), but by the Spirit, it is a glorious affirmation of His power to redeem all men. Note these two verses: "I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession" (Ps. 2:7-8). The inheritance of the Son are the nations and the ends of the earth His possession. He died for all, and thus, all are His inheritance.
Zechariah prophesied of these raging heathen, "And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth" (Zech. 9:10, KJV). The bible is a seamless whole, from cover to cover, declaring the glory of God in heaven and on earth, in the dry lands, the seas, the cosmos, in all creation.
Kenneth Greatorex sent us a piece regarding trials, God's hidden gifts to us."If you never felt pain, How would you know that I am the Healer?
"If you never had difficulty, How would you know that I am the Deliverer?
"If you never made a mistake, How would you know that I am Forgiving?
"If you never were broken, How would you know that I can make you whole?
"If you never went through the fire, Then how would you become pure?
"If you had all power, Then how would you learn to depend on me?
"If your life were perfect, Then what would you need me for?"
All the difficulties and problems in our lives can be summed up in Jacob's declaration at Bethel: "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I did not know it" (Gen. 28:16). Knowing God sent whatever we must endure in order to bring us through it, enables us to overcome it. Eventually, we will be able to "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials" (James 1:2, RSV).
Father, we thank You that the fire of Your unconditional love purifies our lives, separating the wheat from the chaff, giving us clarity to know the end from the beginning, and everything in between as it unfolds. You have given into our hands eternal life and victory over sin, the flesh and the devil. We rejoice that You will speak peace to the heathen through us, in Your time and in Your way. You alone are worthy of honor and glory and blessing. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Editor's Note: Thanks to Lenny Smith for sharing his songs in midi format. The one in this piece is called Splendor and Majesty. JA
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
Diana's study on The Garden being the First Temple
"The Third Temple"
Hear more of Lenny Smith's Songs at New Jerusalem Music
The Glory Road
We enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 8/7/03
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/27/08.